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“This has been my favorite year ever of wrestling. I’ve had an opportunity to wrestle at a level well above what I would’ve ever imagined.” - Dustin Kilgore

Olympic redshirts provide big boost for college stars

Focusing full-time on freestyle has provided benefits in development of top wrestlers By Craig Sesker

How valuable can an Olympic redshirt season be for an elite college wrestler? Just ask Dustin Kilgore. Late in the summer of 2011, Kilgore embarked on a 28-day trip halfway across the globe.

Kilgore could have been back in his native Ohio, preparing for his senior sea- son as he looked to defend the NCAA title he won for Kent State at 197 pounds. Instead, Kilgore was on the mat bat- tling some of the World’s top freestyle wrestlers during tournaments and training in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Poland. Kilgore went 3-4 on his first overseas trip, but he earned a win over 2011 World silver medalist Serhat Balci of Turkey in the Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan. Kilgore was among a number of top collegiate wrestlers who were permitted by the NCAA to take an Olympic redshirt season during the 2011-12 school year. Kilgore arrived at the U.S. Olympic

Training Center in Colorado Springs shortly after winning his NCAA crown in the spring of 2011.

The huge gains Kilgore made are just another example of how beneficial the Olympic redshirt can be for a top-level

12 USA Wrestler

Dustin Kilgore downs Russia’s Evgeny Kolomiets in the Dave Schultz Memorial. Kilgore won three international events this past season. Larry Slater photo.


“This has been my favorite year ever of wrestling,” Kilgore said. “I’ve had an opportunity to wrestle at a level well above what I would’ve ever imagined.” The Olympic redshirt provides an opportunity for top college wrestlers to develop in freestyle, and accelerates their transition from college wrestling to the international level.

The athletes can focus full-time on wrestling while taking time away from school without losing any of their college eligibility. A prime example of a wrestler who excelled while following that path was 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert, who took

an Olympic redshirt in 2008. Herbert didn’t make the Olympic Team in 2008, but he came back to win an NCAA title and the Hodge Trophy for Northwestern in 2009. A few months after that, Herbert was

standing on the podium at the 2009 World Championships in Herning, Denmark with a silver medal hanging around his neck.

“The Olympic redshirt was very benefi- cial – it was huge for me,” Herbert said. “That’s one of the main reasons I got to the finals of the World Championships in 2009. One of the guys I beat at the Worlds I had already beaten in the Dave Continued on page 13

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