Award Season

2017 Comeback Wrestlers of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

After incredible comebacks in 2017, Jordan Burroughs (USA), Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (BLR), and Frank Staebler (GER) have earned the 2017 Comeback Wrestlers of the Year award.

74kg - Jordan Burroughs (USA)
Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs (USA) was coming off an Olympic Games where his hand was only raised once. Leaving Rio, Burroughs was slotted as the ninth best wrestler at the Olympic Games.

After surviving a scare from Ali SHABANAU (BLR) in round one of the World Championships, Burroughs rallied off two technical superiority victories to reach the 74kg semifinals. Burroughs avenged one of his two Rio losses, defeating Bekzod ABDURAKHMONOV (UZB), 6-5. In the finals, Khetik TSABOLOV (RUS) led with one minute remaining, but Burroughs tallied back-to-back takedowns to lock up the 9-6 win.

53kg - Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (BLR)
Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) won the 2012 World Championship at 48kg. Since then, her highest finish at a world championship came in 2014 where she finished in 25th place.

In the world finals, the five-time world team member found herself four points away from giving up a technical superiority victory to 2016 world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN). Kaladzinskaya outscored Mukaida 8-0 to capture her second world title.

71kg - Frank Staebler (GER)
Frank Staebler (GER), the 2015 world champion, went into Rio as one of the favorites to win the 66kg weight class. Staebler’s one win at the Olympic Games was only good enough for a seventh-place finish.

Up a weight, Staebler clearly wrestled with a chip on his shoulder in the 2017 World Championships. He knocked off 2015 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE) in the second round. Staebler regained his world title by winning four additional matches, including an 8-3 win in the finals over Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ).

Award Season

2017 Women's Freestyle Matches of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

The best women’s wrestling matches of the year included two match-ups that pegged previous age-level and senior world champions against each other. The third match featured an ending with quite the proposal.

53kg World Championships GOLD: Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) v. Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN)
Vanesa Kaldzinskaya showed no sign of panicking in the 53kg world finals, even while trailing 6-0. The 2012 world champion used a step out late in the first period to narrow Mukaida’s lead to five points. Her resilience was apparent throughout the match and eventually paid off with 10 seconds remaining as Kaldzinskaya’s four-point move gave her the 8-6 win.

75kg World Championships GOLD: Yasemin ADAR (TUR) v. Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR)
After picking up the first takedown, five-time world team member Yasemin Adar trailed on criteria heading into the second period. With under a minute to go, Adar used a late takedown to take the 4-4 lead on criteria. Adar tacked on one more point and won 5-4.

After Adar’s gold medal celebration, her boyfriend came on the mat, dropped to one knee and proposed to Yasemin.

63kg World Championships GOLD: Orkhon PUREVDORJ (MGL) v. Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR)
In a battle of junior world champions, Orkhon Purevdorj needed three takedowns to defeat Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk. Purevdorj picked up an early takedown in the first and led 2-1 after three minutes of action. Tkach Ostapchuk answered in the second period with a takedown of her own, but it was Purevdorj’s two second-period takedowns that gave her the 6-3 victory.