At Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, 18 Team USA wrestlers won their respective weight class at the 2021 Olympic Team Trials, April 2-3. For 15 of those 18, it means that these competitors have successfully earned the opportunity to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this summer.
However, for three others – Jordan Oliver (Men’s Freestyle at 65 kg), Jesse Porter (Greco Roman at 77 kg), and Adam Coon (Greco Roman at and 130 kg) – Team USA still needs to qualify a representative in these weights.
Those three athletes will have to punch their tickets to Tokyo via the Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, which takes place May 6-9.
In Bulgaria, each competitor must place in the top two spots of their weight class among a pool of the world’s best international grapplers, all of whom have yet to qualify for Tokyo 2021.
“It’s always good to get that monkey off your back,” Oliver said to the media after claiming the 65 kg gold at the Trials. “I’ve never got to compete in the Trials and win the whole thing. It just so happens that the first one is for the Olympics.”
“It’s an honor,” Oliver continued. “For 27 years, I’ve been wrestling. For 27 years, I’ve had this goal in mind to be an Olympic Champion, and this is a big stepping stone toward that direction.”
Oliver’s path to a 2021 Team Trials title was a challenging one. Oliver earned big wins over Joey McKenna, Yianni Diakomihalis, and Nick Lee.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy will look to qualify for the Olympic Games and then attempt to win the first World or Olympic medal for the United States at the weight since Bill Zadick brought home gold from the 2006 World Championships.
The Greco Roman rep for the US in Greco Roman at 77 kg is Jesse Porter of the New York Athletic Club. Porter earned the right to be in Fort Worth at the Trials by way of his efforts at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier, and now he’ll look to clinch a spot for Team USA at the final Olympic Games Qualifier in Bulgaria.
Porter, the No. 10 seed at Trials this weekend, was overlooked by many, but that didn’t faze or surprise him.
“I didn’t really have a good performance before, but I was sick last time,” Porter said of his previous showings leading up to the 2021 Trials. “I had homework, so much homework, it was ridiculous. I had finals literally the week before I went to the tournament.”
“The timing wasn’t right for that tournament, and I had a terrible performance there, and they just seeded me off of that, so not really surprised how they seeded me.”
In the best-of-three finals, Porter’s second match was as close as it gets. Porter won 7-7 on criteria over Peyton Walsh of the All-Marine Wrestling Team.
“These tournaments are great for learning, great for technique because they bring out all your holes [as a competitor],” Porter said after his finals win. “That’s another thing I need to be more cognizant of.”
Porter will look to build on the momentum he’s created the last two weekends in Fort Worth as he tries to qualify the weight for Team USA next month.
Adam Coon will join Porter next month in Bulgaria as he attempts to also qualify the 130 kg Greco Roman class for Team USA for Tokyo. The big man out of the New York Athletic Club/Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club took out youngster Colton Shultz in the Trial finals.
While bout one was a 10-0 tech in favor of Coon, bout number two was far closer, with Coon winning 3-3 on criteria.
“Obviously, I wanted to score more points; that’s how I was raised, [that’s] how I train,” Coon said after his second win over Schultz. “It’s kinda cutting it close with a 3-3 match, I wouldn’t say disappointed, but I wanted to put more points up and put on a show.
“But that just kinda goes to show you how tough pf a wrestler Cohlton is getting teched in that first match and then coming back and beating me for a good portion of that match.,” Coon continued. “I had a great opponent; I hope we put on a great show for the fans.”
Coon will have a chance to put on a show next month in Bulgaria as he attempts to represent the country well and ultimately qualify his weight for Team USA.
“I have another step that I gotta go,” Coon said regarding the Olympic Games Qualifier in May. “I’m happy that I won this match, but at the same time, I got more work to do. And I’m going to be increasing the workload again to make sure I can represent the United States as best as possible.”