IOWA CITY, Iowa — They train together daily, so it was fitting Saturday afternoon that James Green and Jordan Burroughs had to dig out of a hole together.
With the U.S. team trailing 3-0 after three matches against Japan in Session II of the United World Wrestling Freestyle World Cup on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the former Huskers gave the Americans two much-needed victories.
Green’s 8-5 win over Kirin Kinoshita at 154 pounds got the U.S. team on the board, and Burroughs (163 pounds) followed with a 7-1 victory over Yuhi Fujinami to spark a 7-3 comeback victory by the Americans.
“They really got us back on track,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. “James did a great job of really coming out and establishing himself and getting a good lead. We’re down 3-0 in the matches, things weren’t going our way, but he got us going, and then Jordan wrestled super-hard against a really good opponent.”
Burroughs said he was excited to see Green, who had hip surgery in November and only recently returned to the mat, wrestle well.
“James is a beast,” Burroughs said. “I always count on (Green) to win. I see James every day and I know the hard work he’s putting in, so I can always vouch for him. … I know he’s capable of being the best in the world.”
It was smooth sailing in the last five matches of the session for the U.S. team. Kyle Dake, David Taylor, J’den Cox, Kyle Snyder and Nick Gwiazdowski each won their matches via tech fall.
The Americans finished the day 2-0 — they beat India 10-0 earlier Saturday — to top the standings in Pool A (USA, Japan, Georgia and India). They enter Sunday’s matches with a good chance to earn their first World Cup title since 2003. The U.S. will face Georgia at 10 a.m. Sunday in Session III, and with a win will advance to the gold-medal match later in the day against the winner of Pool B (Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Cuba and Kazakhstan).
Burroughs trailed 1-0 early in his match against Fujinami and had to take a lengthy injury timeout after he appeared to hyperextend his knee trying to get a takedown.
“I think I put myself out of position going really hard for that (takedown),” Burroughs said. “My left leg just straightened out and he was trying not to let go, so it just pulled my leg a little bit. I’ll be OK tomorrow.”
He regrouped and dispatched Fujinami with a flurry of takedowns in the second half of the match.
“I just wrestled hard,” Burroughs said. “The best defense is a good offense. The more I shoot, the less chance he gets to shoot. In the second period, I was just going crazy on him and he had no chance to shoot.”
In Burroughs’ first match of the day, an 11-1 win against India’s Vinod Kumar Omprakash, he injured his nose, and it was still bleeding after his match against Fujinami.
“If I’m not bleeding, I’m not working hard enough,” he joked.
“I don’t know if he broke it, but it’s not good,” Manning said. “It’s super sore, but he’s got to wrestle two more times, and he’s a warrior, so we’re not worried about it.”
* Nebraska assistant coach Kendric Maple sat out the first session against India because U.S. coach Bill Zadick wanted to give Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native Joe Colon a match in front of his home crowd (Colon defeated Sandeep Tomar 6-4).
Maple was back on the mat in Session II, but lost to Japan’s Kazuya Koyanagi on criteria. Maple nearly scored a takedown in the final seconds that would have given him the match, but after a review it was determined he got the takedown after time had expired.
“Kendric was super-disappointed,” Zadick said. “We thought we had the takedown there, that was really close. He thought he could have scored more and could have gotten more offense off, but he’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
* U.S. heavyweight Dom Bradley, a former Missouri wrestler who now trains in Lincoln with Burroughs, Green and Maple, won his match over India’s Pushpender Singh 10-0. Bradley didn’t find out until about an hour before the first session that he would be wrestling.
“Just to get to wrestle today, I was very excited,” Bradley said.
He didn’t wrestle in Session II, and it wasn’t yet decided whether he would wrestle Sunday.