IOWA CITY — Jordan Burroughs is the old man for Team USA, the cagey, wily, veteran leader for a team full of young, rising stars.
On Sunday, it was Burroughs who righted the ship for Team USA, and young stars Kyle Dake, David Taylor and Kyle Snyder delivered the World Cup to the United States for the first time since 2003.
With the scored knotted a two matches apiece, Burroughs — one of the most decorated wrestlers in history — came through with a pin over Gasjimurad Omarov of Alzerbaijan in 3 minutes, 15 seconds at 74 kilograms.
Dake (79 kg) and Taylor (86 kg) followed with successive wins before Snyder, arguably the best pound for pound wrestler in the world, sealed the 6-4 win for Team USA with a 14-3 technical superiority win over Roman Bakirov, 14-3 on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
While the youth movement is taking Team USA back to the top of the wrestling world, it was Burroughs who pointed them in the right direction.
"I'm almost 30. I'll be 30 this summer. But I still feel good. They still can't stop me. They're still coming out here just to keep the score close and not trying to beat me. I'm excited about what I'm able to do today physically. I feel good. My body feels healthy. I'm in a good place right now," Burroughs said. "This is my sixth World Cup. I've finished second a couple of times and third a bunch of times. This is really meaningful to me. I've won at every single tournament I've competed in except this one. I'm 26-0 over the six years I've competed in this, but I've never brought home this Cup. It's not about how I perform. It's about how these guys perform."
"It's tough when you go out and you know somebody and the fans are expecting these huge fireworks. I felt bad a little bit. I went out and tried my best. Sometimes you just have to grind it out," said Dake, who was 4-0 in the tournament. "That was a big match for the team. That was a big swing match that Azerbaijan probably thought they were going to win. We expected to win it here for Team USA, so I went out and did my job and wrestled hard."
"I'm very thankful to be with the teammates that I have right now.I'm surrounded by really amazing people and that's what has allowed me to learn and allowed me to step into the leader role that I'm in. Really I'm just being myself and these guys are just being themselves. Everybody is motivated on our tea. We have 10 guys who are going to make the World Team. I don't have to lead any of them. I just have to be myself," said Snyder, who also went 4-0 in the two-day event.
Team USA completed a 3-0 run through pool competition with a 9-1 rout on Sunday morning, setting up the gold medal dual against Azerbaijan.
Thomas Gilman, a three-time All-American for Iowa, lost an 8-7 decision to Giorgi Edisherashvili to open the dual at 57kilograms. Gilman earlier posted a 6-4 win over Georgia's Teimuraz Vanishvili in the opening dual. Gilman went 1-2 in his three matches, receiving a forfeit in the opening dual on Saturday.
"It's one at a time. You watch Burroughs and Snyder, those are the two best guys on the team. I've seen Snyder get down 4-0 on a four-point move and it's just one point at a time on pushouts and these guys start falling down because they're tired. I just have to open up the match instead of trying to get back in it with one move," Gilman said. "Just being in the room with them and watching them internationally and just picking their brains. It can't get any better than that."
Burroughs gave Team USA the spark it needed against Azerbaijan at a crucial point in the dual. His pin brought the crowd to its feet in a thunderous ovation of "USA! USA!" and sent the team on its way to victory.
"I'm like Bo Nickal, right? I've been doing that since I was six-years old. That's what we do here. You want to win a World Cup? You come wrestle for America. That's what we do here in the United States of America," Burroughs said. "It's been a long time. I'm not a pinner. It's an art form to be able to pin. I couldn't see the ref because of my head position, so I was like, 'Please slap the mat before this guys gets off of his back.'"
Dake, arguably the most dominant wrestler of the tournament, beat three-time World champion Jabrayil Hasanov, 5-3, to give Team USA the lead for good.
"Jabrayil and I have some history. I went over there in 2012, 13 and 14 and he was always training, so we kind of know each other a little bit, more than most opponents. He's a really tough competitor, obviously. He's an Olympic bronze medalist. I just went out there to compete to the best of my ability and that's what I did," Dake said. "I felt all right. Obviously I don't like giving up takedowns, but that's something you learn from. That's one of my goals every time I step on the mat is to learn something. If I have to fail to learn, that's OK."
Taylor followed with a 12-2 win over Aleksander Gostiev at 86 kilograms, setting the stage for Snyder, who delivered the World Cup with another magnificent performance.
"I feel good. He's pretty good, so it was pretty nice to tech fall him. It's another opportunity to seal it up for the United States. I would always pick myself to go out there and wrestle when it comes down to the team and we have a lot of good guys. I just feel real confident in my ability to wrestle in those type of circumstances," Snyder said.
Team USA sent a message — loud and clear — to the rest of the world: Team USA is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
"We are the best team in the world. This is the best team that planet Earth has. We're just going out to put on a show. We have the firepower," Dake said.
"I wish Iran and Russia could have been here. It was very important for us to have those guys here, especially with Iran being the reigning champion. They've won it five years in a row. But we did what we can. We were prepared and ready for this moment," Burroughs said. "We're the best team. We're the world champions. If they wanted to beat us, they should have prepared and been here to wrestle us. We're prepared. We are here and we're ready."
"I think it's fair to say this is the best team the United States has ever had and I think we're only going to get better. This is the best team we've ever had, but I don't think it's even close to the teams were going to have in the Olympic Games and World Championships in the future," Snyder said.