Stanford’s Nathan Traxler. Image courtesy of Stanford Athletics.
The transfer portal got smaller late Tuesday night as both Austin Gomez (formerly of Iowa State) and Nathan Traxler (formerly of the newly-reinstated Stanford) have both made choices about where they plan to finish the remainder of their respective NCAA careers.
Gomez will head to Big Ten country and suit up for Chris Bono and the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison. At the same time, Traxler will move to Blacksburg, Virginia, and join Tony Robie and the Hokies in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
I’m very excited to announce that I will be transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I feel at home and feel this is the place for me to reach my goals. Time to work! #JumpAround pic.twitter.com/oriGMOtiZe
— Austin Gomez (@AGomez_141) June 2, 2021
In Gomez’s case, last year, in late December, the Iowa State star announced that he would medically retire from the sport. At the time, The 22-year-old from Carol Stream, Illinois, stated that the decision was due to a mounting list of injuries over his last few seasons in Ames.
— Austin Gomez (@AGomez_141) December 28, 2020
“Today, I make the hardest decision of my life, but the right decision for the health and safety of my future,” Gomez wrote in a statement. “I have decided to hang it up and medically retire.”
Fast-forward to 2021, and the former Cyclone isn’t ready to retire the wrestling shoes just yet.
Though injuries have proved troublesome throughout his career, Gomez amassed quite a few notable accolades from his time as an Illinois prep competitor and his lone full varsity season in Ames in 2018-19 under coach Kevin Dresser.
As a prep, he was a three-time Illinois state champion for Glenbard North, a 2016 Junior freestyle national champ, and a 2013 Cadet men’s freestyle world-teamer. As such, he was considered a top-tier recruit in the Class of 2017.
At Iowa State, Gomez’s time on the mat was severely hampered by injury. Still, as a redshirt freshman in 2017-18, Gomez was 8-0 while competing unattached. On the international circuit, he was a 2018 Junior World Team Qualifier.
During the 2018-19 season, his healthiest as a collegiate wrestler, Gomez authored a 24-7 record as a redshirt freshman. He placed third at the Big 12 Championships that year. Those marks were good enough to qualify the then-redshirt freshman for the 2019 NCAA Championships, where he made it to the round of 12. Gomez hasn’t appeared in a match for Iowa State since his showing at the 2019 NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh.
Most importantly, Gomez may potentially plug a hole at a weight (141) that Wisconsin struggled mightily in 2021. Returning 141-pounder Dom Dentino was 0-10 in 2021. While the move would require Gomez to bump up a weight, he has the frame to add a few extra pounds. Staying healthy will be the biggest concern during Gomez’s time in Madison.
On the other hand, Traxler has seen success and has significant experience at the collegiate level, both on and off the mat. He was named an NWCA All-American following the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Championships. He was a three-year team captain for the Cardinal, where he was also a three-time NWCA Academic All-American. The graduate transfer is a four-year qualifier for the NCAA Championships, wrestling at 197 pounds for three years before moving up to heavyweight in 2021. The Illinois native won the Pac-12 championship at 197 pounds in 2019.
After 5 years & 2 degrees I could not be more thankful for my time at Stanford. I had the best coaches and teammates and I’m grateful for every opportunity they gave me. With one last year of eligibility, I am extremely excited to finish my career at Virginia Tech. Go Hokies! 🦃 pic.twitter.com/WYj8j5uOlT
— Nathan Traxler (@nathantraxler4) June 1, 2021
However, in Blacksburg, I’d expect Traxler to return to 197 as VT is pretty well-established with youngsters John Borst and Hunter Catka at heavyweight.
Gomez and Traxler will both crack the starting ten and be instant contributors with a wealth of veteran savvy for their new squads.