Jordan Burroughs defeated Zahid Valencia at FloWrestling's event on Nov. 14 (Photo/Justin Hoch, JHoch.com)
2020 was a year like no other.
And the wrestling community certainly felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with the cancellation of the NCAA Championships and the postponement of the Olympic Games.
High school wrestling is back in full swing, the college season is about to start and big international events are set to start happening in early 2021 leading into the Tokyo Olympics.
Here are my thoughts and reflections with the holidays just around the corner:
Jordan Burroughs is 32 years old, but the four-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist is still really good. He likely will have to beat two-time world champion Kyle Dake to make his third straight Olympic team, but Burroughs is still wrestling at an extremely high level. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
Kudos to FloWrestling, Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and so many others for holding these live wrestling events during the pandemic. These events have given the wrestlers an opportunity to compete in live matches and also provided the fans with a chance to watch some top-level wrestling.
I can't wait for the college season to start, in all three levels. The Iowa Hawkeyes missed out on an opportunity to win the NCAA title they were expected to win in 2020. The Hawkeyes, led by superstar Spencer Lee, will be favored again. But Penn State may have something to say about it.
I'm also looking forward to seeing Wartburg, Augsburg, Loras and others battle for supremacy in Division III. And I want to see how DII plays out with St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Kearney expected to make a run at the gold trophy in March.
Is this the year the U.S. Greco-Roman team returns to the medal podium at the Olympic Games? Don't be surprised if it happens in Tokyo.
I wish there would have been a way for the U.S. to compete in the Individual World Cup event that was recently held. There was some great competition with some of the world's elite wrestlers taking part.
The Olympic Trials are going to be incredibly competitive. With only six weight classes, and with the U.S. doing so well at the World Championships in recent years, there are going to be some unbelievable battles in almost every weight class. I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. Hopefully, wrestling can add more weight classes at the Olympics in the future.
Five-time world champion Adeline Gray was dominant at Senior Nationals (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Five-time world champion Adeline Gray is ready to make a run at Olympic gold. She has come back from a setback at the 2016 Olympics to win her fourth and fifth world titles. Look for her to make a run at the title in Tokyo.
David Taylor has always been one of my favorite wrestlers with his wide-open, relentless style. The 2018 world champion is back now, and he's bigger and stronger. I'm eager to see how he fares as he pursues Olympic gold.
I miss the atmosphere, excitement and electricity of a packed venue for a wrestling event. Hopefully, we will be back to that soon. For now, let's just appreciate the fact that competitions are able to be held. And athletes once again have an opportunity to pursue their hopes and dreams.
Girls' wrestling needs to be sanctioned at the high school level in every state. Women's wrestling has been in the Olympics since 2004 and there is no reason that females shouldn't have the same opportunities as males. More states continue to sanction the sport, but states like Iowa and Nebraska need to follow suit. What are you waiting for?
Needing to get your wrestling fix? Get your hands on one of the great books on the sport that are available now. My personal favorite is the book -- AFSOON -- that I collaborated on with wrestling trailblazer Afsoon Roshanzamir Johnston on her remarkable journey. We have received excellent reviews and feedback on the book. The newly released book -- Wrestling the Alphabet -- also has generated a great deal of interest. It is a quick, interesting and historic read for parents to share with their kids. And a book on legendary Wartburg coach Jim Miller is coming out soon. Ohio State coach Tom Ryan also has an interesting book -- Chosen Suffering -- that came out in 2020. Check any or all of these out if you can. And look for more awesome books on wrestling to be released in 2021.
What a tremendous honor for Dan Gable to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He not only is arguably the best wrestler and coach of all-time, Gable is still the biggest name in the sport. And he remains an incredible ambassador for wrestling. It was an honor that certainly was well-deserved. Dan Gable personifies everything that is so special about wrestling. He's a good, decent, hard-working man who is a phenomenal person. In a rough year like 2020, it was amazing to see it end with Coach Gable receiving such a high honor at the White House. He personifies greatness in every way, shape and form. He's the best.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Stay safe and let's hope for plenty of memorable moments in 2021.
Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games, written 10 books and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.