The anticipated Cox-Snyder matchup in Saturday’s final was the first story to go to the test, and Cox’s failure to gain weight became big news in the opening hours of the event at the Dickies Arena, Fort Worth.

Cox, three-time NCAA champion in Missouri, had to fight his way to the 2016 Olympic team after dropping to 86 kg and receiving a ninth seed in the spring trials. Although Cox had said goodbye in the semifinals of this year’s exams, he seemed annoyed that he had to fight his way back into the team and promised to use the situation as a motivation for this weekend.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘I’m angry’ or ‘p —– off’, but after that no one will have proven to me that they should be on these teams more than I. Said Cox during one last week Video press conference. “I have a lot to prove to myself for these upcoming tests. I have a chip on my shoulder for that. I have a target and something to aim at, which I try at this level. I am not giving up my place anymore What is mine is mine. I deserved it. I fought for it. I represented this team and this country for it. I did it over and over again. This place is mine. I sit. Period. The end . That’s the role; that’s the goal. “

Cox’s disqualification lessened the challenge for Snyder, the only American man to win a freestyle gold medal in 2016. Snyder, of Woodbine, Md., Took bronze at the 2019 World Cup but has since won 16 straight caps. As the top seed in the tests, he will meet again in the final on Saturday evening.

It remains unclear Friday is Cox’s future. He is 26 years old, has spoken openly about battles with depression, and sees himself as a mental health advocate speaking to others about their struggles. Last week he spoke of the joy he had from training with neighbors who saw him train in a local park in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. He said her training successes inspired him to practice his own.

Even so, he sounded most focused on making it back to the Olympics, which made the missed weight so surprising on Friday.

“I am here to destroy everyone,” he said.