Although USA Wrestling documents hinted toward it months ago, Penn State finally announced Saturday that, yes, the Bryce Jordan Center will host the 2020 Olympic wrestling trials April 4-5.
The announcement was made on the Beaver Stadium Jumbotron after the Nittany Lion wrestlers were recognized Saturday afternoon for winning the 2019 national championship.
The process of bringing the Olympic trials to Penn State has been years in the making. USA Wrestling official Pete Isais told reporters at a January 2018 dual meet that Nittany Lions head coach — and Olympian himself — Cael Sanderson first approached the organization with the idea six years prior. Since then, Isais said he’d been working closely with the Penn State administration to bring the idea to fruition.
At that time, Isais said Penn State was “on the short list” to host the trials.
More than a year later, at this year’s NCAA wrestling championships in Pittsburgh, Penn State legend and world champion David Taylor told a group of alumni — perhaps prematurely — that the trials were headed to Happy Valley. USA Wrestling, however, told the CDT that nothing was official at that time.
On Saturday, however, Penn State publicly announced the trials to the 108,661 fans who showed up to watch the Nittany Lions take on cross-state rival Pitt.
The success of of Penn State’s wrestling program collegiately, as well as the success of Nittany Lion Wrestling Club members on the international stage, makes Penn State the prime location for the trials. Several former and — possibly current — Nittany Lions are likely to pursue their Olympic dreams this spring.
Perhaps the most obvious is Taylor, who told the CDT in August that he expects to be healthy and ready to compete, after rehabbing the injury that’s keeping him from competing alongside fellow Penn State alum Zain Retherford at next week’s World Championships in Kazakhstan.
“Being able to come back and make my first Olympic team in State College, representing the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, that’s exciting to me,” Taylor said last month. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I just take one day at a time and try to be the best prepared I can be in April.”