Penn State Wrestling

Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar seeks a 6th year of eligibility

Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar talks about medical redshirt plans and life after wrestling

Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar discusses about getting medical redshirt for sixth year of wrestling and plans for 2020 Olympics and mixed martial arts career.
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Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar discusses about getting medical redshirt for sixth year of wrestling and plans for 2020 Olympics and mixed martial arts career.

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.”

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.

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