Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar announced Tuesday afternoon that he’s currently seeking a sixth year of eligibility — to help further his push for the 2020 Olympics and a Mixed Martial Arts career afterward.
Cassar, a redshirt senior, told a handful of reporters before practice that the program has been working on attaining that sixth season via a medical redshirt for about the last year. The New Jersey native redshirted in 2014-2015 and did not compete the next season due to a serious shoulder injury.
Even so, Cassar said he’s not 100 percent committed to the idea of returning just yet. But he sure sounded like a heavy lean Tuesday toward staying in Happy Valley.
“Yeah, definitely a possibility,” he said. “So we’ll get this season going, and we’ll make a final decision after March.”
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Cassar finished 16-2 at 197 pounds last season while battling with teammate Shakur Rasheed for the starting spot. Rasheed ultimately won out and earned the nod in the postseason, where he received All-America honors. But Cassar impressed during the regular season with an upset win over Ohio State’s then-No. 1 Kollin Moore.
After moving up to heavyweight this season, where Cassar said he feels most comfortable, the fifth-year wrestler is currently a perfect 4-0 while not being taken down once. He now stands between 233 and 237 pounds.
“This summer I plan to put on another 10, maybe 15 pounds, which I know might be hard to believe,” he said with a smile Tuesday. “But then, in 2020, I feel like I’ll be ready to go.”
Cassar was the 96 kg Junior National Freestyle champ in 2015, before suffering a serious shoulder injury that derailed his 2015-2016 collegiate season. He’ll almost certainly be competing for a freestyle spot at 125 kg in 2020 — which means he’ll be forced to compete against 2018 World Championship bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski, who graduated from N.C. State two years ago.
The Penn State heavyweight — who said he can dead-lift nearly 600 pounds — said he likes the thought of going up against the likes of Gwiazdowski. And, although his eye is now focused on the short-term and weekend tilts against Bucknell and Lehigh, he knows what he’s working toward in the future.
“The long-term goal is 2020 Olympics and, obviously, we’ve had a lot of success from guys coming off their college season,” he said. “So that’s what’s making my choice a little easier if I decide to take that year. And, after that, I want to transition to Mixed Martial Arts.”
His MMA nickname?
“Champ,” he said with a laugh.