Last night multiple outlets in New Jersey reported that 2019 133 lb NCAA Champion Nick Suriano of Rutgers would be taking an Olympic redshirt for the 2019-20 season. This decision was rumored for the past few weeks, but it wasn’t until yesterday that it was confirmed. Suriano is not currently listed in the Rutgers student directory for the Fall 2019 semester.
This decision makes sense for Suriano on multiple levels as his only options to compete in the Olympics are at 57kg (125 lbs) or 65kg (143 lbs). With the US Open in December and various events to qualify for the Trials taking place during the collegiate season, it wouldn’t be in his best interests to make 133 lbs every week, then compete at 125 pounds. Staying at 125 lbs for the entire collegiate season may not be the best path for Suriano either. What also factors into this decision is the time of the Olympic Trials themselves, which is April 4th and 5th in State College, Pennsylvania. This would come only two weeks after the conclusion of the NCAA wrestling season.
Suriano made a splash on the freestyle scene this May when he wrestled at the Beat the Streets NYC event and upset returning world medalist Joe Colon at 61 kg. Aside from that, Nick doesn’t have many accolades on the freestyle side of things. He will have an excellent place to train for his Olympic run as the NJ RTC has two members (Tyler Graff and Patrick Downey) are on the 2019 World Team, just than a year after they opened their doors with head coach Reece Humphrey. The 2019 representative at 57 kg is Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), the opponent who Suriano defeated to claim his national title, so Nick is certainly a legitimate contender for the 2020 team.
At this point, it’s unclear who would replace Suriano in the Rutgers lineup for the 2019-20 season. Redshirt freshman Malcolm Robinson was a strong prospect coming out of Blair Academy, Bucknell-transfer Zach Firestone was 20-4 last season at the weight class while competing unattached, and junior Luke Ecklof was 4-6 at the weight class, also in open competition. We’ll have to keep an eye out to see who emerges as the starter at 133 in Suriano’s absence.
Nick is now the third 2019 NCAA champion that has decided to take an Olympic redshirt, joining Yiannia Diakomihalis (Cornell) and Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech).