Five Penn State Wrestlers Already Eligible For Olympic Redshirt Year For 2020 Games
At least five Penn State wrestlers will be eligible to apply for Olympic redshirts and train for a chance to make the 2020 games in Tokyo next season under the new criteria introduced by USA Wrestling.
Thanks to the meticulous work of one commenter on an Iowa message board, FloWrestling reported Mark Hall, Brady Berge, Jarod Verkleeren, Mason Manville, and Aaron Brooks all meet the eligibility requirements.
Wrestlers typically take Olympic redshirt years to take a break from classes and focus on training full-time. Olympic redshirts also free up a portion of the 9.9 scholarships allotted to their teams. To apply for an Olympic redshirt, wrestlers must meet at least one of the criteria for eligibility:
- Past national team members (top three from the World or Olympic Team Trials)
- Top eight at the 2019 Senior U.S. Open
- Top three at the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championship; or NCAA champion from a previous year AND top two from the 2019 U23 World Team Trials (must accomplish both)
- Previous Cadet, Junior, U23 world medalist
Manville qualified under the first criterion as a member of the 2017 Greco-Roman World Team. Hall, Berge, Verkleeren, and Brooks all earned their eligibility under the fourth criterion. Hall, Verkleeren, and Brooks won gold medals at the Cadet World Championships, while Berge finished third this year.
Hall and Brooks seem to be the most intriguing cases regarding Olympic redshirts. Hall will have one year of eligibility remaining following this season after winning a NCAA title at 174 lbs. as a true freshman. After entering the Olympic Team Trials as a high school year at 76 kg, he is sure to be a contender at the 2020 trials. Him taking a year off would then free up some space in the middle of Penn State’s crowded lineup.
Conversely, Brooks has yet to even step foot on a college mat. The top 182-lb. recruit in the 2018 class, Brooks is spending a “grayshirt” season at the Olympic Training Center and could potentially defer his admission another year if granted an Olympic redshirt. He then wouldn’t enroll at Penn State until the fall of 2020 at the age of 20. For those following along at home, if he chooses to redshirt that season, he wouldn’t run out of eligibility until age 25.
Two-time national champion Vincenzo Joseph has yet to qualify for an Olympic redshirt, but he could get in under the third criterion if he is a finalist at the 2019 U23 World Team Trials. Another wrestler to watch is Anthony Cassar, who is applying for a medical redshirt and additional year of eligibility. Cassar has expressed interest in competing in Tokyo in 2020, so if the waiver is granted and if he qualifies for an Olympic redshirt, he could return to the team during the 2020-21 season. He would turn 25 around the time of the NCAA Championships that season.
With plenty of student athletes eligible to redshirt next season and a logjam of a lineup, there’s sure to be at least one Penn State wrestler who steps away to train during the 2019-20 season. However, you still might be able to watch whoever it is wrestle in Happy Valley next season — as well as greats Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal, and Jason Nolf. Penn State has been in conversations with USA Wrestling about hosting the Olympic Team Trials at the Bryce Jordan Center since 2012. Trials would likely take place in April 2020, four months before the Olympics.
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