Former Ohio State wrestlers Kyle Snyder and Logan Stieber banked three tech falls for Team USA on the first day of the United World Wrestling Men's Freestyle World Cup on Saturday.
Stieber dropped his second match of the day after taking a nasty headshot in the opening moments of his match against Japan's Takuto Otoguro, but it was a mere bump in the road for the Americans, as the team would reel off seven consecutive wins to finish day one in dominant fashion.
The Freestyle World Cup is the annual international dual meet wrestling championship, and features eight of the top men's freestyle wrestling teams in the world. The University of Iowa is hosting this year's tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Pool action opened with a bang for the Americans, as India proved to be completely outmanned and outmatched in a 10-0 rout. Team USA won six of 10 matches by "technical superiority," AKA tech fall, with Stieber going 12-2 in his opening bout at 65 kg and Snyder going 10-0 at 97 kg.
Japan was not willing to concede defeat quite so easily, it seemed.
In the first match of the afternoon, Yuki Takahashi stunned the home crowd by outlasting Thomas Gilman in a 4-1 decision, and Kazuya Koyanagi made it two in a row by defeating Nebraska assistant coach Kendric Maple on criteria.
With the air out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Japan carried momentum into Stieber's second match of the day, versus 2015 Cadet World champion Takuto Otoguro. Stieber, the 2016 Senior World Champion, went on the attack frequently throughout the match, but took a nasty shot to the head in the opening moments that opened up a cut that bled profusely, and seemed to stun him for a few moments.
Otoguro scored the first takedown in that exchange, and would run out to a 8-0 lead before Stieber appeared to turn the tide in his favor. Continuing to take shots, Stieber scored a nice go-behind on the edge late in the first to cut the deficit.
He would pick up another point for what appeared to be bite marks on his forearm after a defensive exchange on one of Stieber's double-leg attempts. He would narrow the score to 4 points with a push-out, rather than awarding the takedown as the pair rolled out of the circle, but that was as close as the four-time NCAA champ would come to the lead; Otoguro added one final takedown, and the match ended 10-4 in Japan's favor.
In the end, those three losses by Team USA were their only blemishes on the day. The Americans would rattle off seven consecutive victories, including five tech falls in the final five matches of the dual, to lead 2-0 in pool action.
Snyder's match against Taira Sonoda was textbook: five takedowns in the first two minutes and 10 seconds for the 10-0 tech.
"I love wrestling freestyle – it's way easier," Snyder said. "A 10-point tech, five takedowns, maybe a turn ... It's a lot more fun for me."
Snyder said the World Cup is the first step toward defending Team USA's world title. The Americans won their first freestyle team title in 22 years last summer in Paris, and will look to repeat this October in Budapest, Hungary.
For now, his team is squarely focused on winning its first World Cup since 2003. The team will finish pool competition Sunday versus Georgia at 11 a.m. Stieber will face Magomed Saidovi, and Snyder will face either reigning U23 European champ Givi Matcharashvili or Sviadi Metreveli.
The USA is now 2-0 in Pool A. A win over Georgia on Sunday morning would put them into the gold-medal team match Sunday afternoon. There are still three more duals coming this session. See them @trackwrestling— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) April 7, 2018
Streaming is available ($) via TrackWrestling.