A couple of New Jersey guys will feel right at home in Lincoln on Saturday night.
Jordan Burroughs and James Green, who went to high schools just outside of Philadelphia before becoming wrestling All-Americans for Nebraska, are the main attractions when the Final X: Lincoln event takes place at the Devaney Center.
“It’s really an advantage for Jordan and James to wrestle in their hometown,” said Mark Manning, who coached both since they arrived in Nebraska. “They’re both from New Jersey, but they consider this their hometown. So it’s big for their fans, big for their friends. The comfort of being in the Devaney and competing is great.”
Saturday’s daylong event includes 15 matchups, with the winners earning spots on the United States senior world team. That team will compete in this year’s World Wrestling Championships in Nursultan, Kazakhstan, in September.
Being decided will be five women’s freestyle weight classes, five men’s Greco-Roman and five men’s freestyle. All weight classes are a best-of-three series, with the first session starting at noon and second session at 6 p.m.
Of the 10 men’s freestyle wrestlers, five have combined for 15 Senior World/Olympic medals, including eight golds, three silvers and four bronzes.
The final three matchups of the evening session feature Green, former Omaha Skutt and Iowa star Thomas Gilman and Burroughs.
“For James and Jordan, this is a good step in the process to become a world champion,” Manning said. “But you have to make the world team first.”
Both know how to get that done.
Burroughs is one of the United States’ most accomplished wrestlers, as he looks to represent the United States for the ninth year in a row. He’s a four-time world champion and the 2012 Olympic gold medalist at 74 kg. On Saturday, he will face former Illinois All-American Isaiah Martinez — Burroughs, who turns 31 next month, defeated Martinez last June to qualify for the world team.
The 26-year-old Green, meanwhile, looks to make his fifth straight U.S. world team at 70 kg. He faces Ryan Deakin, who was an All-American for Northwestern in March.
“They’re both tough competitors,” Manning said of Burroughs’ and Green’s opponents. “They’re both going to come in with good game plans.”
In the 57-kg match, Gilman will face a familiar opponent in Daton Fix. This will be their fourth matchup, with Gilman holding a 2-1 lead. Gilman was the World silver medalist two years ago.
This is the third summer Lincoln has hosted this event, and Manning said he’s glad it’s here.
“The last two years, it’s been well-received, and USA Wrestling really likes coming to Lincoln,” he said. “They see the amount of fans that show up, from Minnesota, from Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado. The staff here at Nebraska does a great job of putting this together.”
Match schedule (Best-of-three)
Session I (noon start)
Women’s freestyle (FS) 59 kg: Alli Ragan vs. Lauren Louive; men’s Greco-Roman (GR) 60: Leslie Fuenffinger vs. Ildar Hafizov; women’s FS 55: Jacarra Winchester vs. Dominique Parrish; men’s GR 72: Raymond Bunker vs. Alex Mossing; men’s GR 63: Ryan Mango vs. Xavier Johnson; men’s GR 97: G’Angelo Hancock vs. Lucas Sheridan.
Session II (6 p.m. start)
Women’s FS 62: Mallory Velte vs. Kayla Miracle; women’s FS 53: Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Katherine Shai; women’s FS 76: Adeline Gray vs. Precious Bell; men’s GR 130: Adam Coon vs. Cohlton Schultz; men’s FS 61: Joe Colon vs. Tyler Graff; men’s FS 97: Kyle Snyder vs. Kyven Gadson; men’s FS 70: James Green vs. Ryan Deakin; men’s FS 57: Thomas Gilman vs. Daton Fix; men’s FS 74: Jordan Burroughs vs. Isaiah Martinez