Aaron Brooks ousts David Taylor to make first U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The U.S. Olympic Team for wrestling is set. The Olympic Trials wrapped up Saturday night in the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus.

On the men’s side, the U.S. has already qualified for the Olympics in four of the six weight classes in freestyle. It’s qualified in three of the six weight classes in Greco-Roman. The U.S. women have all six weight classes qualified.

While Spencer Lee and Zain Retherford are both Olympic Trials champions, they both still must qualify the weight class by finishing among the top three during the World Olympic Games Qualifier which runs May 9-12 in Istanbul.

Men’s freestyle

57 kg: In the competition of four-time Iowa All-America honorees it was Lee who defeated Thomas Gilman in two consecutive matches. Lee won 6-3 and then pinned Gilman, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, in the second match in 5:58. In order to wrestle in Paris, Lee must now qualify the weight.

65 kg: Retherford swept his training parter and former Penn State teammate Nick Lee, 2-1 and 5-0. He called the win “bittersweet” because he had to beat his close friend to do so. Retherford said he wasn’t sure he was even going to wrestle this cycle as he eyes a future in New York working with a financial firm. In January, Retherford decided he wasn’t ready to walk away and now has the chance to qualify the weight by finishing among the top three in Istanbul.

74 kg: Kyle Dake defeated Jason Nolf in two consecutive matches, 4-1 and 3-1. Both are members of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. Dake was wrestling for the first time after the passing of his father, Doug. The emotions of doing so without the person who helped get him into the sport came pouring out minutes after the match.

“This was kind of our journey together,” Dake said. “I’m still carrying the torch. I want to give myself another chance.”

Dake, a four-time NCAA champion at Cornell, took bronze in Tokyo.

86 kg: In the stunner of the night it was Penn State’s four-time NCAA champion Aaron Brooks who defeated fellow former Nittany Lion and 2020 Olympic gold medalist David Taylor. Brooks did so by winning two consecutive matches against Taylor who had the automatic bid into the finals. Brooks won the first match 4-1 and returned for the evening session where he record a 3-1 victory. Taylor is 33 years old and spoke openly this week about wanting to live in the moment and said he felt better than ever headed into competition. Brooks, 23, regularly wrestles in the same room at Penn State with Taylor.

“He’s one of the first guy who made this (Penn State) program what it is,” Brooks said. “It’s been a blessing being around him and watching what he does. He definitely changed Olympic wrestling.”

97 kg: Kyle Snyder is heading to his third Olympics. The 28 year old has represented the U.S. in every Olympics and World Championship since 2016. Snyder swept Isaac Trumble, 5-0 and 4-0. Coached by Cael Sanderson and Jake Varner, Snyder joined the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in 2019. Snyder is the 11th American wrestler to qualify for three Olympics.

125 kg: Mason Parris beat Hayden Zillmer in consecutive matches by a score of 7-0 each time. Parris is the 2023 Hodge Trophy award winner and four-time NCAA All-America honoree at the University of Michigan.


Parris was the NCAA heavyweight champion in 2023. (Photo: Brett Rojo / USA Today)

Greco-Roman

60 kg: Dalton Roberts beat Ildar Hafizov after it went three matches. Roberts, who has beaten Hafizov now 10 times out of 17 matches on at the senior-level, will have to qualify the weight in Istanbul.

67 kg: Ellis Coleman, also a member of the 2012 Olympic team, defeated Alejandro Sancho 3-2 in the third match to win the best-of-three series. This is the Chicago native’s first return trip to the Olympics since doing so as a 20 year old. Coleman now must qualify the weight in Istanbul.

77 kg: Kamal Bey swept Aliaksandr Kikiniou with a 9-1 tech fall and a 6-0 victory. Kikiniou, at 44 years old, was the oldest competitor at the Trial. Bey must now qualify the weight in Istanbul.

87 kg: Payton Jacobson was seeded seventh headed into the trials. He beat Spencer Woods in the first bout, 8-2 and would beat him again in the third match, 3-1.

97 kg: Joe Rau has been close to competing at the Olympics the two previous cycles and has now broken through. Ray defeated Alan Vera two matches to one. Rau won the Trials but failed to qualify the weight in 2016 and then qualified the weight but lost in the Trials the next cycle.

130 kg: Adam Coon beat Cohlton Schultz two matches to one. Coon was a three-time All-America honoree at the University of Michigan.

Women’s freestyle

50 kg; Sarah Hildebrandt is heading to her second Olympics. The 2020 bronze medalist swept Audrey Jimenez with a pair of 10-0 technical falls. As Hildebrandt stepped off the mat she screamed, “I’m going back to the Olympics!”

53 kg: Dominique Parrish secured her spot by sweeping Haley Augello, 2-1 and 5-2. Parrish, the 2022 World Champion, will make her Olympic debut in Paris.

57 kg: Helen Maroulis is a three-time Olympian and is the first U.S. woman to do so. Maroulis claimed Olympic gold in 2016 and took bronze in 2020. Maroulis defeated Jacarra Winchester by fall and in a 6-0 decision to sweep the best-of-three.

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Maroulis has won seven total world championship medals, three of which are gold. (Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

62 kg: Kayla Miracle defeated Macey Kilty in consecutive matches, 8-5 and 3-1. The 27-year-old was the 2022 World Silver medalist and has now made her second consecutive Olympic team.

68 kg: Amit Alor will make her Olympic debut. The 20-year-old sensation defeated Forrest Molinari, 6-0 and 2-1. Alor is already a two-time senior world champion.

76 kg: Kennedy Blades will make her Olympic debut in Paris. Blades swept two-time Olympian and six-time world champion Adeline Gray 11-6 and 8-3. Blades, the 20-year-old, had her sights set on making this team since she was a kid. Gray, at 33 years old and a mother of twins, said she’ll take time to think about her future. She wants part of her legacy in the sport to be about showing other female wrestlers that they don’t have to put their lives on hold for their careers.

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(Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)





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