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The biggest news in recent wrestling memory broke yesterday as world champion J’den Cox announced his move to 97kg to challenge Kyle Snyder for the Olympic team spot at that weight.
The news sent ripples across the wrestling landscape as it added to an already-loaded up 97kg weight class, but had the opposite effect on 86kg by taking away a guy who would almost certainly be the No. 1 contender for the Olympic team bid.
Cox’s decision now opens the door for Alex Dieringer to challenge for the spot at 86kg. The Hodge winner and three-time NCAA champion had his own weight decision to make after competing at the non-Olympic weight of 79kg last year. Dieringer could have opted to cut to 74kg, which would have resulted in him tangling with world/Olympic champions Kyle Dake and Jordan Burroughs. Ultimately he opted to go up to 86kg and compete with David Taylor, Zahid Valencia, and possibly J’den Cox.
It’s still sort of unclear as to whether or not 86kg is the right weight for Alex Dieringer. There’s no doubt that he’s naturally more of a 79kg and really just had to make a pretty tough decision in this Olympic year of what weight to go. Unfortunately he hasn’t had quite the same pop up at 86kg that he had at 79kg.
At 79kg, with the exception of his matches with Kyle Dake, Dieringer looked nearly untouchable. Domestically he dominated everyone except Dake, and even on the international scene he won the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria and the Yasar Dogu without seeing much resistance. At 86kg, he’s dropped some bouts and has definitely been challenged more than he was at 79kg.
With Cox moving to 97kg, it seems as though Dieringer made the right call to move up. Though David Taylor is a world champion and the favorite to take the spot, he is coming off a recent injury. Dieringer’s losses at 86kg are to Zahid Valencia and Myles Martin, both of whom he has beaten before and could reasonably avenge. The prospect of navigating that bracket is seemingly a better one that battling with Jordan Burroughs, who’s one of the greatest to ever lace them up, and Kyle Dake, who knocked off Dieringer at 79kg last year.
What’s been a rough week for contenders at 97kg may have opened up the door a bit for Alex Dieringer and the rest of the field at 86kg.
Seth Duckworth is a Stillwater-based writer who covers Oklahoma State University wrestling for Pistols Firing Blog, the best OSU news and community site on the internet. Follow Seth on Twitter.