Penn State’s Rec Hall was picked Friday as one of three sites to host USA Wrestling’s prestigious Final X series, and an official said it was also considering the Bryce Jordan Center as a venue for the team trials for the 2020 Olympics.
Both announcements were made prior to Nittany Lions’ dual meet against Minnesota.
The Final X series, which also boasts FloSports as a partner, will determine the 10 men’s and 10 women’s freestyle World Team Members, who will compete in the 2018 World Championships — and could feature at least one Penn Stater. The location for the team trials remains undecided but, according to Pete Isais, Director of National Events for USA Wrestling, the BJC is on the short list.
Isais said coach Cael Sanderson approached the organization about six years ago regarding the team trials. He said he’s been working closely with the Penn State administration on that for the last two to three years.
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“It’s pretty much, let’s try to make this work and do what’s good for wrestling,” Isais told the CDT. “And, hopefully, it ends up coming to fruition for 2020.”
While the future team trials remain an uncertainty, the Final X Series is already cemented.
FloWrestling will air all of the coverage, with the first event taking place in Lincoln, Neb., on June 9. Rec Hall will be the middle event on June 16, and Lehigh’s Stabler Arena will be home to the final event on June 23.
Penn State’s event will feature three men’s weight classes (65 kg, 78 kg, 86 kg) and three women’s classes (62 kg, 72 kg, 76 kg). That means that two Nittany Lions in Zain Retherford (65 kg) and David Taylor (86 kg) could be competing back in Rec Hall.
“We selected (Penn State) for Final X strictly on venue,” Isais said. “I think that they have great fans and great wrestling out here.”
Wrestlers will have three ways to make the Final X. They can win April’s U.S. Open in Las Vegas, win May’s World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, Minn. — or they need to be a returning world medalist at the same weight.
Those getting free passes to the Final X will be Thomas Gilman (57kg), James Green (70kg), Jordan Burroughs (74kg), Kyle Snyder (97kg) and Nick Gwiazdowski (125kg).
J’Den Cox, who wrestled 86 kilograms, could automatically advance too — if he doesn’t decide to move up to 97 kg.
“I think it’s going to create a better opportunity for our athletes,” Isais said. “We’re excited for the series. I’m excited about coming out to the East Coast because, like I said, we haven’t had a major event besides Beat The Streets on a senior level out in this area, so I think the fans should eat it up.”