The Senior World Team will be decided for Team USA on Saturday at Final X, and two former Huskers are looking to secure their spots on the team.
Jordan Burroughs is looking to punch his ticket to his 12th World/Olympic Team, while Tyler Berger is trying to upset a returning medalist in search of his first World Team.
Burroughs will take on Chance Marsteller in a best-of-three series, and Berger will have his own series against Zain Retherford. With incoming recruit Camden McDanel making the U20 World Team and sophomore Brock Hardy making the U23 World Team recently, a win by either Burroughs or Berger would give the Huskers a member on three of the four World Teams (No members of the U17 World Team are committed to Nebraska, although 5 of the 10 are still uncommitted)
Action starts with the first-round matches at 1 p.m. (CST) and the second matches starting at 5 p.m. You can watch the action live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on FloWrestling (subscription required).
Will Burroughs Stay Gold?
It’s well documented already, but Burroughs is the greatest American wrestler ever. He already has the most World and Olympic gold medals ever by an American with seven, and he’s looking to extend his record to eight with a win at Final X and the World Championships in September. His senior-level record sits at 226-15 as he tries to make his 12th World/Olympic team. In 11 trips to the yearly pinnacle of wrestling, Burroughs has brought home 10 medals in total with three bronze medals to go along with his seven golds.
At today’s press conference, Burroughs was asked what’s motivated him to get this far in the sport and he had a very interesting response about how his motivations have changed over time.
“When I was 16, my goal was to get a varsity jacket and to get my name in the paper — maybe even a picture on the front page of the sports section. (Your motivation) shifts distinctly depending on the time frame that you’re in,” Burroughs said. “When I got to college, I wanted to have my name in the rafters — I wanted to have my picture on the front of the media guide that they passed out to all the recruits. Then when I got to the senior level, I wanted followers and to make money and to make a name for myself.”
“Now, I’ve just gotten back to the purity of why I started this,” Burroughs continued. “I’ve got four little ones in my household that all count on me daily, and they watch me and they get to see the way that I operate and navigate the world — how I train, how I take care of my body, how I treat people. Now, it’s shifted every season in my life. Now I rely heavily on my faith, I rely deeply on my family and the people that encourage and support me. Lastly, I’m just a competitor — I like beating people at stuff. That’s what pushes me daily. My motivation at this point comes from my faith, my family and my competitive nature.”
In his way tomorrow at 79kg is a familiar foe in Chance Marsteller, Burroughs’ opponent at last year’s Final X. Burroughs beat Marsteller to advance to Worlds and won his record seventh gold medal, but not before Marsteller became one of the few Americans ever to get a win over Burroughs. Burroughs won the series 2-1 with Marsteller taking the second match in a razor-thin 2-2 criteria win.
In the first match at last year’s Final X, Burroughs beat Marsteller 4-0 before dropping the second match. In the third match, Burroughs shut down Marsteller for a 5-0 win. You can watch all three matches below.
Wrestling in his home state of New Jersey for the first time since a college dual against Rider in 2008, Burroughs has a tough test in front of him. Marsteller was a two-time All-American at Lock Haven but he’s really improved in the last few years on the freestyle circuit.
A stout wrestler with incredible defense and strength, Marsteller is incredibly hard to score on. He beat Alex Dieringer in the US Open final this year to get back to Final X for another crack at Burroughs.
In addition to their three matches at Final X last year, Burroughs and Marsteller have wrestled two other times. Burroughs beat him 4-1 at the 2021 World Team Trials then got an 8-0 win at the 2022 Yasar Dogu. In their five matches, Burroughs has outscored Marsteller 23-3, showing not only Burroughs’ offensive prowess against one of the best defensive wrestlers in the country but also his own defensive ability. For all the attention Burroughs gets for his offense, especially his patented double-leg takedowns, he is just as good at not giving up points.
While Marsteller has beaten Burroughs before, it’s hard to imagine him doing it twice more tomorrow. This series won’t be easy for Burroughs, but it’s one in which he’s the heavy favorite to win and secure that 12th World/Olympic team spot.
Can Berger Dethrone Zain?
Wrestling in his first Final X, Berger has a very tough opponent in his way in Zain Retherford at 70kg.
Retherford was a three-time NCAA Champion for Penn State where he went 93-0 in his final three years of college, winning the Dan Hodge Trophy twice. Since then, Retherford has made three World Teams. In 2017 and 2019, Retherford made the team at 65kg but failed to medal at Worlds. In 2022, he made the team at 70kg and finally broke through for a silver medal at Worlds, giving him a bye to tomorrow’s Final X as a returning medalist.
This year has been Berger’s best on the senior level. He not only finished second at a difficult Kunayev International Wrestling Tournament in November, he also won the Bill Farrell Open at 70kg. Berger then went on to win the US Open title, punching his ticket to Final X.
At the Open, Berger started with three wins via tech fall before earning two one-point wins over Hayden Hidlay in the semis and Sammy Sasso in the final. You can watch his match against Sasso below.
Retherford and Berger have met just once in their careers with Retherford defeating Berger via 11-0 tech fall in the 2021 World Team Trials 3rd-place match. That was a couple years ago and both men have improved a lot.
This will be a very tough series for Berger who has been getting closer and closer each year to earning a World Team spot. It’s time to find out if he’s improved enough to knock off Retherford. If he can beat the former Penn State star, then he can absolutely go to Worlds in September and bring home a medal.