photo courtesy of Richard Immel
This afternoon two-time World Champion J’Den Cox released a video through USA Wrestling informing the world of his weight class plans for the2020 Olympic year. Cox won both of his world titles at 92 kgs, which is not an Olympic weight, so he’ll need to either go down to 86 kg or down to 92 kg. J’Den won bronze at the 2016 Olympics while competing at 86 kg and duplicated that feat the following year at the 2017 World Championships. Since the inception of the 92 kg weight class, Cox has not made 86 kg and he has expressed the difficult measures in which it took to make 86. Despite this, J’Den was underweight for Final X intending to possibly drop down to the weight. Instead, he’ll move up to 97 kg, which set up a massive match with three-time World/Olympic champion Kyle Snyder. Since Snyder won a medal at the 2019 World Championships, he’ll have a bye to the best-of-three finals at the Olympic Trials, while Cox will have to settle for a bye to the semis of the challenge tournament. Looking ahead, if Cox were to get by Snyder and the rest of the domestic competition, it would set up an even bigger battle with Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev. Sadulaev is a five-time World/Olympic champion that suffered his only loss at the Senior level to Snyder in the 2017 World finals. He would avenge that defeat the following year in the 2018 finals.
With J’Den confirmed at 97 kgs, the weight class becomes even more stacked domestically. In addition to Snyder, Bo Nickal, Hayden Zillmer, Kollin Moore, Michael Macchiavello, Ty Walz, Kyven Gadson, and Jacob Kasper have all qualified for the Trials. Two others will earn a spot at the Last Chance Qualifier. Additionally, another collegiate wrestler will earn a place if they win the 197 lb weight class (provided its not Kollin Moore).
Cox and Snyder will have the opportunity to renew their rivalry-of-sorts. The pair last met in the 2015 NCAA semifinals in a match that Snyder won 3-2. They also battled many times as high schoolers on the freestyle/Greco circuit, with both earning victories at various times.