This weekend, Team USA will find out who will wrestle for the chance to represent their country on the world stage.
The 2022 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament will take place in Coralville, Iowa at the Xtream Arena May 21-22.
If you’re unfamiliar how the process goes in choosing Team USA’s World Team members, I’ll break it down.
There are a number of wrestlers who have qualified for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament this weekend, which will decide one or both of the wrestlers that will advance to Final X in early June. There are two Final X events, with an event in Stillwater, Okla. on June 3 and in New York City on June 8. Final X is a best-of-three series that decides Team USA’s World Team member at each weight class in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.
There are two ways to make it to Final X. Any returning Olympic or World medalist from the year prior receives a bye into Final X and gets to bypass the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. In weight classes where someone has a bye to Final X, the winner of the WTT advances to face that wrestler in a best-of-three at Final X. But if there is no returning World medalist at a weight, the WTT bracket is stopped after the semifinal round and the two finalists will decide things at Final X in a best-of-three series.
If that’s confusing, here’s two current examples:
- As the returning World Champion at 79 kg, Jordan Burroughs gets a bye to Final X. Therefore, the 79 kg bracket this weekend will play out normally with the winner (a best-of-three final on Sunday night) facing Burroughs at Final X in a best-of-three series.
- With former Husker James Green retiring from competition, the 70 kg weight class is wide open with nobody sitting in Final X. Therefore, the bracket will play out up until the final, but the two finalists will decide things with a best-of-three series at Final X.
Nebraska is led by former O-lineman Tanner Farmer in Greco-Roman at 130 kg (286 pounds), but there is a trio of former Husker wrestlers competing in freestyle in Tyler Berger, Collin Purinton and Christian Lance.
2-seed Tanner Farmer
After winning the Bill Farrell Open in early April, Farmer qualified for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.
The former Husker football player also won the 2021 Last Chance Olympic Qualifier.
With no returning World or Olympic medalist, the two finalists this weekend won’t meet until Final X. And with the 2-seed, that means Farmer won’t have to face 1-seed Cohlton Schultz until then.
Last year’s World Teamer at 130 kg in Greco, Schultz dropped his only match at Worlds to an Olympic silver-medalist. He then went on to make it to this year’s NCAA final as a redshirt freshman where he fell to Olympic Champion Gable Steveson 6-2 (video below).
If Farmer can take car of business on the bottom side, it’s exceedingly likely he’ll face Schultz at Final X for a chance at a World Team spot.
5-seed Collin Purinton
After earning a berth into the WTT with a third-place finish at the US Open earlier this month, Purinton has improved by leaps and bounds in his freestyle game.
The 5-seed this weekend, Purinton is in a weight class where the winner of this weekend’s tournament will face defending World Champion Kyle Dake at Final X.
At the US Open, Purinton went 7-1 to finish third and avenged his only loss to Andrew Cerniglia.
He’s a wrestler to watch this weekend.
8-seed Tyler Berger
As the 3-seed at the US Open, Berger fell in the semis to Jordan Oliver and forfeited out of the tournament. Considered a contender, Berger slipped all the way down to the 8-seed this weekend at the WTT.
Berger has consistently been among the Top 4 at 70 kg the past year or so, highlighted by his title at the Bill Farrell Open. But at the Open, Berger fell to Oliver 6-2 before Oliver lost in the final to the favorite to earn the vacant spot at 70 kg in Alec Pantaleo.
This weekend, Berger will have some tough matches if he wants to make it to the final and advance to Final X.
10-seed Christian Lance
After finishing sixth at the US Open, Christian Lance earned a spot at the WTT this weekend.
Lance earned All-American honors for the first time in March before going 3-3 at the US Open to qualify for WTT again. As the 10-seed, Lance will face some stiff competition early on.