Growing Wrestling

Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan breakdown team performances and preview the 2020 season for the top teams. Askren starts by asking Dernlan to give some insight into the growth of RUDIS and the expansion of the athlete program. Dernlan talks about potential athletes that are graduating this year as well as speaking about growing RUDIS’ presence in women’s wrestling. It’s incredible that senior-level athletes have different opportunities to support themselves and their families and allow them to focus on wrestling. Before regional training centers and sponsorships, athletes were forced to take on coaching jobs or side jobs in order to fund their Olympic dreams.

Other countries have state-sponsored athletes and other ways to allow wrestlers to have laser focus on training and competing. The United States has only recently within the last 10 years gained the luxury through RTCs and growing athletes platforms to allow athletes to put all their efforts into wrestling.

Sarah Hildebrandt | Beat The Streets (5:30)

Dernlan says Sarah Hildebrandt will be competing in an event on March 31st at the Wiltern Theatre called Beat The Streets L.A. This dual will feature U.S.A. vs India women’s freestyle wrestling. As many know, Beat The Streets is a wonderful cause and program. Their mission is to empower/transform the lives of youth through wrestling by creating sustainable wrestling programs accessible to all youth.

Next Year’s NCAA Champions (6:48)

One of the main focuses of today’s podcast is what next years collegiate teams will look like. One of Askren’s absolute favorite parts of the NCAA Wrestling Championships is the team race. It’s really exciting when the team race is close and every single matchup matters during the finals. This year as suspected from the very beginning of the season, Penn State ran away with championships. Askren drops a hot prediction, “Iowa Hawkeyes will be the 2020 NCAA Champions.” Askren breaks down Iowa’s returning wrestlers, seven of whom were All American this year. Another factor that goes in the Hawkeyes’ favor is Ohio State graduating three of their best wrestlers as well as Penn State graduating multiple National Champs.

Bonus Points are Not an Option (14:40)

Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli, and Jacob Warner had a combined 19 matches at the NCAAs and only put up 2 bonus points. Iowa needs to work on adding bonus points if they want to compete for the elusive NCAA Title. Bonus points are what separates teams in the NCAA Tournament. This year Penn State had bonus point machines in Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal. If you only used Penn State’s bonus points they would have placed 21st out of 63 teams. Next year, returning wrestlers will need to put an emphasis on bonus points to make up the gap that Nolf and Nickal are leaving.

Ohio State (20:38)

In the past two years, Ohio State lost six multiple time All Americans. Askren and Dernlan attempt to break down next year’s Ohio State lineup. Luke Pletcher at 133 lbs, Quinn Kinner at 141, and Kollin Moore at 197 to name a few. Overall, they have a few All Americans coming back, a few high-level freshmen, and a handful of big-time recruits who could potentially fit into their lineup.

Penn State (25:52)

Penn State has Nick Lee, Vincenzo Joseph, Roman Bravo-Young, Mark Hall and potentially Anthony Cassar returning next year. Nick Lee at 141 lbs could really benefit next year from other wrestlers in his weight class taking an Olympic Red-Shirt. Wrestlers like Yianni Diakomihalis and Jordan Eierman would be out of the way for an NCAA Championship run. Askren and Dernlan are assuming Brady Berge will move up to 157 and allow Jarod Verkleeren to step in at 149. There is also speculation Mark Hall will move up to 184 lbs.

Cornell (34:13)

If Diakomihalis doesn’t take an Olympic Red-Shirt then Cornell is Dernlan’s pick to win it all next year. Askren breaks down the talent Cornell has returning next year. They have Max Dean who will be ranked No. 1, Ben Darmstadt who had suffered a spinal injury returning and ranked No. 1 or 2, and Vitali Arujau ranked in the top five. With these top wrestlers, they have the potential to shake things up next year.

Oklahoma State (40:35)

Oklahoma State also has a great potential heading into next season. Daton Fix will return at 133 lbs. Askren says Kaid Brock will benefit from others taking an Olympic Red-Shirt and definitely make the quarterfinals. While Oklahoma has a stacked lineup, they do have some holes to fill at 165, and 197 and heavyweight.

Michigan (42:45)

Askren says Michigan will Olympic Red-Shirt everyone they can. Including Stevan Micic and Myles Amine. By saving those guys and the rest of the roster being young, Askren says they’ll “punt to 2021”. This will give them an opportunity to not just be good in 2020 but great in 2021.


RUDIS Gear in this Episode Ben is wearing a Schultz Tbilisi Champion Adult T-Shirt in Blue:

Matt is wearing a USA Merit Men’s Cadet Soft Shell Jacket in Black:


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Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan host the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast. Askren, World Champion, and Olympic Wrestler joins in official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from years of experience in D1 college coaching at Binghamton, Clarion, and Penn State University.

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