featured photo of Gable Steveson by Tony Rotundo
It’s almost time to close out 2021 and tap into the loaded 2022 season. But before we do that, before we spend the spring and summer with our developing athletes, let’s take a look back at the run Team USA had during this last championship season.
After an amazing week collecting stop signs and All-American status in Fargo for Team Wisconsin, it felt like the Olympic and United World Wrestling championship portion of the season was nonstop through December. Delegations from the United States rolled out stellar performances across world stages at all age levels.
The Olympic Games—Tokyo, Japan
The first week of August showcased our top-tier athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The United States earned a combination of nine medals and the Living the Dream Fund paid out $950,000 ($250,000 for a Gold medal, $50,000 for silver and $25,000 for bronze). Because of the significance of women’s wrestling in Japan, a women’s freestyle gold-medal match was contested each day August 2nd-7th, giving the women’s discipline an additional spotlight.
Junior World Championships—Ufa, Russia
Later in August, the Junior World Championships in Ufa Russia was another display of talent from the United States, this time showcasing two of Wisconsin’s very own—Gold Medalists Kylie Welker at 76-kilos in WFS, and Keegan O’Toole at 74-kilos in MFS. Amit Alor, Emily Shilson and Kennedy Blades joined Welker as Junior World champions in women’s freestyle, and the U.S. brought home the team title. In men’s freestyle O’Toole, Rocky Elam and Braxton Amos won gold, and the team placed third overall. Braxton Amos claimed a bronze medal in Greco-Roman.
Senior World Championships—Oslo, Norway
September kicked off with the Senior World Team Trials in Lincoln, Nebraska where Wisconsinites Kylie Welker and Ben Provisor won their best-of-three finals series earning spots on the Senior World Team headed to Oslo, Norway. The United States brought home a total of 15 medals as Adeline Gray grabbed a sixth world title, and Jordan Burroughs claimed his fifth. USA Wrestling’s special section has the highlights.
U15 Pan Am Championships—Mexico City, Mexico
In October, the United States swept every team title across disciplines in Mexico City at the U15 Pan Am Championships. For the boys, each wrestler competed in Greco-Roman and men’s freestyle. Haakon Peterson (Hollendale, Wis.) won the gold medal in both styles. In women’s freestyle, Wisconsinite Faith Bartoszek captured a gold medal along with eight of her teammates.
U23 World Championships—Belgrade, Serbia
The first week of November featured the U23 World Championships in Serbia to round out the final world championship event for the 2021 season. Emily Shilson (50kg WFS) and Anthony Cassioppi (125kg MFS) brought home gold medals, and Kylie Welker (76kg WFS) and Jay Aiello (97kg MFS) earned bronze.
Junior Pan Am Games—Cali, Columbia
Team USA sent a 15-person delegation to the inaugural Pan American Games in Cali, Columbia in the first week of December. Kylie Welker won a bronze medal to round out her outstanding performances during 2021—she made every U.S. World team she was age eligible for after wrestling in the finals at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. WFS teammate Aliyah Yates (62kg) joined her with another bronze medal performance. Lukas Chittum (65kg), Rocco Welsh (74kg), Sam Wolf (86kg) and Matthew Cover (125kg) earned gold medals in men’s freestyle. Peter Casale (97kg) earned silver and Richard Figueroa (57kg) earned bronze. Kodiak Stepehns (87kg) led the men’s Greco-Roman team with a silver medal at 87kg. Dominic Damon (67kg), Phillip Moomey (60kg) and Eli Pannell (130kg) were bronze.
Overall, it has been an outstanding year for USA Wrestling and the community.
Shifting back from international results, there is still a lot going on in Wisconsin. The WIAA high school wrestling season and college schedules are in full swing. The WIAA is preparing for its first-ever girls individual state wrestling tournament on January 29th in La Crosse. Additionally, the WWF has hosted three camps in a four-part women’s freestyle series and is preparing for the upcoming spring season. The final camp will be January 9th at Nazar Trained in Madison.
The Wisconsin Wrestling Federation serves as USA Wrestling’s state association, and our state is brimming with hard-working competitors across disciplines in pursuit of world and Olympic titles. Because of that, we hope sharing these top-tier performances will help our growing community see the heights of their pursuits while tracking toward success at the highest level in our sport. If you have any questions about the Olympic styles, please email us at email@example.com and we will get you connected.
Congratulations to Team USA, Team Wisconsin, and thank you to all parents, coaches and athletes committed to the craft and making the United States a stronger contender on the world stage. We are wishing our entire membership community a happy holiday season.