From Estonia to Kazakhstan to Budapest, college and senior level wrestlers have been traveling the world this summer and early fall, representing the United States at the junior, senior and U23 World Championships. Now that the U23 World Championships have officially come to a close, college wrestlers can refocus on the folkstyle season ahead and start to prepare for the long journey to Minneapolis in March.
Twenty athletes competed in the 2019 U23 World Championships across freestyle and Greco-Roman, and of those twenty wrestlers, just six are expected to compete this college season. Gabriel Townsell and Chas Tucker returned home from Budapest without a medal but will quickly shift gears and be set to represent Stanford and Cornell for one more year. Brady Berge and Chase Singletary are in a similar situation, but they each have three years of eligibility left at Penn State and Ohio State. Chad Porter and Tate Orndorff are the two representatives from the Greco-Roman team who have college eligibility remaining and are not taking an Olympic redshirt this season.
Jaydin Eierman and Max Dean, the U23 representatives at 65kg and 86kg also both competed in Budapest and could compete for Missouri and Cornell this season but have opted to take an Olympic redshirt. University of Buffalo graduate Muhamed McBryde, NCAA All-American Alec Pantaleo, and three-time NCAA champion Bo Nickal rounded out the freestyle team. Utah Valley's Taylor LaMont, Michigan State's Peyton Omania, Princeton's Lenny Merkin, Cornell's Andrew Berreyesa and Duke's Matt Finesilver are the five Greco-Roman representatives still in college, but all five are taking Olympic redshirts. Dalton Roberts and Jesse Porter, both who competed or are competing for Northern Michigan, filled out the Greco-Roman U23 World Team at 63kg and 77kg
The only U.S. gold medal of the tournament came from Penn State graduate Bo Nickal, but here's what you need to know about the World Team members who will be competing collegiately this year.
Townsell and Tucker missed out on medals but will look to close their college seasons on the podium
A three-time NCAA tournament qualifier, Gabriel Townsell will start his senior year at Stanford looking for one more chance at the national podium. The veteran lightweight wrestled at 57kg at the World Championships in his second international tournament and despite going 0-1 during the event, Townsell left motivated, writing on his Instagram page, "I know firsthand that I can beat anyone in the world, and I love and appreciate everyone who has learned that alongside me..We'll be back, whatever this has to take us." Townsell is expected to start at 125 pounds for Stanford during his final year and could be a threat but will need to avenge some losses from the list of returning 125-pound contenders.
Chas Tucker, like Townsell, has been a consistent point-scorer at the conference level for Cornell and will look to end his career with All-American honors at 133 pounds. He also went 0-1 at the World Championships, but the experience marked his first time competing on the international stage. His first match against 2018 Yasar Dogu champion Mohammadbagher Yakhkeshi of Iran ended 6-4 but now all the focus will be on freestyle.
Injury forces Berge out of bronze medal match, but he's expected to come back and make some noise for Penn State at 157 pounds
Brady Berge of Penn State had the chance to wrestle for bronze after being pulled back into the repechage, but was physically knocked out during his match and taken to the hospital. He is making a full recovery and is expected to be the starter for the Nittany Lions at 157 pounds, a spot held last year by three-time NCAA champion Jason Nolf. A sophomore, Berge will look for his first All-American honors this year as well.
Despite going 0-1, Chase Singletary is likely to start for Ohio State and seek All-American honors
Chase Singletary should be the solidified starter for the Buckeyes now that fellow World Team member Daniel Greg Kerkvliet has announced his decision to transfer from Ohio State. He did, however, go 0-1 in the tournament. Singletary wrestled at 97kg while Kerkvliet competed at 125kg, but both athletes anticipated competing at heavyweight this college season. Singletary finished last year as an NCAA qualifier with a 21-9 record and could battle for a spot on the podium this year after finishing the Round of 16 last season.
STORYLINES TO WATCH THIS SEASON: Can anyone challenge the Nittany Lions in the 2020 NCAA team title race?
Kerkvliet finished fifth in the tournament after a controversial third-place match. Coming into the tournament, Kerkvliet had won the 2017 Cadet world championships and finished second in 2018 in the same tournament. He’s an expected heavyweight in college, but his current school is still unknown. He also put up dominating performances to start going 10-0, 13-2, 10-0 before falling in the medal match.
Redshirt sophomore Greco-Roman reps looking to build on international experience
Only three of the ten U23 Greco Roman World Team members are expected to compete this year in college, and all three will start their redshirt sophomore campaigns with a plan to likely focus on Greco Roman wrestling during the season along with traditional college folkstyle matches, as they have done the previous two years. Utah Valley heavyweight Tate Ordnoff, who went 1-1 at Worlds is perhaps the most likely to make an All-American run, given the reps that he's put in as a redshirt freshman and the experience he gained as an NCAA tournament qualifier last year. He also took second at the Cliff Keen Invitational last year and third at the Big Ten tournament as Utah Valley's starting heavyweight.
Earlier in the summer, we predicted that Utah Valley would make school history and crown two conference champions for the first time. Will Ordnoff's international experience help him become one of the two?
WRESTLERS TO WATCH: 7 breakout candidates who could become All-Americans this year
Chad Porter of Arizona State rounds out the U23 representatives who could set on the mat this college season, and the redshirt sophomore has shown in previous years that his focus in on Greco Roman. Porter has wrestled in just 14 matches in his two seasons with the Sun Devils, posting a 6-9 overall record. The tournament in Budapest marked his second straight World championship appearance.
He's no longer in college, but Bo still knows wrestling
Bo Nickal, a 2019 graduate of Penn State University and a three-time NCAA champion, won the 92kg division at U23 Worlds to earn the first senior world title of his career. The win qualifies Nickal for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials where he will have to compete at either 86kg or 97kg. Nickal was the only U.S. wrestler to win gold across all of the weight classes in freestyle and Greco Roman.