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Now that the 2019 World Championships are over, everyone has already turned their eyes toward the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It is not just wrestlers who have graduated college who have Olympic aspirations; many who still have eligibility left are in active pursuit of a gold medal. For example, Daton Fix made the world team this year and still has three years of eligibility left at Oklahoma State. Nick Suriano still has a year of college remaining but is taking an OLY RS, and Michigan is going all in on freestyle with four guys slated to take one.
Fix failed to qualify the United States for the Games, but both Stevan Micic and Myles Amine placed top-six to secure spots for their countries. Below is a complete list of everyone who has qualified (so far) to take an Olympic Redshirt, as well as a few who have been confirmed as taking them or not.
|Peyton Omania||Michigan State||Yes|
|Mekhi Lewis||Virginia Tech||Yes|
|Matthew Schmitt||West Virginia||Yes|
|Zahid Valencia||Arizona State||No|
|Anthony Valencia||Arizona State||No|
|Cohlton Schultz||Arizona State||No|
|Jacori Teemer||Arizona State||No|
|David Carr||Iowa State||No|
|Trent Hidlay||NC State||No|
|Nick Reenan||NC State||No|
|Gabriel Tagg||North Carolina||No|
|Brady Koontz||Ohio State||Maybe|
|Daniel Gregory Kerkvliet||Ohio State||Maybe|
|Gavin Hoffman||Ohio State||Maybe|
|Kollin Moore||Ohio State||Maybe|
|Aaron Brooks||Penn State||Maybe|
|Mark Hall||Penn State||Maybe|
|Mason Manville||Penn State||Maybe|
|Travis Wittlake||Oklahoma State||Maybe|
|Brady Berge||Penn State||Maybe|
|Jarod Verkleeren||Penn State||Maybe|
|Daton Fix||Oklahoma State||Maybe|
|Tommy Helton||SIU Edwardsville||Maybe|
|Dylan Gregerson||Utah Valley||Maybe|
|Tate Orndorff||Utah Valley||Maybe|
|Taylor LaMont||Utah Valley||Maybe|
There are a number of reasons for and against taking an Olympic Redshirt, with your own personal goals needing to be balanced with the wants and the needs of the coaching staff as they try to field the best team possible.
Each coach has a different perspective on Olympic Redshirts, and of course those opinions are fluid depending upon the makeup of your roster and how important it is for their athletes to be able to try to make the team. Additionally, only three people on this list have already qualified for the Olympic Trials in April, so wanting to actually compete in the Trials is also a huge factor in an athlete's decision.
As you can see, the list of "maybes" is extensive, though the vast majority of them will end up not taking one. However, let's speculate on a few big guns who could take one.
Daton Fix, Oklahoma State
Fix is one of only two on this list who has already made a senior level world team (with Yianni still having an opportunity to become the third). Fix being qualified for the Trials already could make it easier to justify not taking one. Additionally, if he wins a medal in Kazakhstan and is sitting out until the finals, that would potentially help the decision to wrestle folkstyle. Lastly, their incoming lightweight recruits (Trevor Mastrogiovanni and Jakason Burks) may also push him in the direction of competing for the Cowboys this season so they can get in the lineup faster.
Spencer Lee, Iowa
This one seems like a no, for two reasons. First of all, all signs are pointing to Iowa making a big push for the team title this year. Second, although he plans on trying to qualify for the Trials, he said on episode 78 of Ben Askren's Rudis podcast that he is "not really a big fan of Olympic Redshirts."
Mark Hall, Penn State
From an outsider's perspective, it seems like guys in between weights like Mark Hall should take one, to help with the process of bulking up or shrinking their body. However, this would be Hall's final college season, and in all likelihood the Nittany Lions will need him to win another national title. Hall went to PSU for two reasons: to win titles, and to prepare himself for his senior level career. This decision puts him at a crossroads of those two things.
Mason Manville, Penn State
Besides Fix (and potentially Yianni), Manville is the only other collegian who has made a senior world team. His decision will certainly have an impact on Penn State, since he would probably be their option at 174 if Hall decides to take one. However, I believe he is more likely to take one than Mark as he tries to make the Greco team at 77kg.
Aaron Brooks, Penn State
I think he should take one, especially if Shakur Rasheed is healthy this year. Brooks has made it very clear his focus is on the senior level and attaining world and Olympic medals, as has been evidenced by his pursuit of making age level teams and the decision to live at the OPTC for a year after high school. It also gives them some flexibility to use a regular redshirt down the road if for any reason they would need it. However, Brooks is a team player and will help the Nittany Lions chase down another team title if that is what the coaching staff asks him to do.