By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
There is no rest for the weary. Especially when you are a champion.
Jordan Oliver didn’t take any time off after winning his second NCAA national championship in his final season at Oklahoma State. Instead, he started gearing up for the international stage — which has led him back to Stillwater to participate in the U.S. World Team Trials this weekend at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I think it’s unbelievable that the world team trials came here in Stillwater. It definitely gives you a sense of being comfortable, but also at the end of the day I still have to go out there and perform my best at the top level,” Oliver said just a few months removed from his last collegiate match in the historic arena. “I think it’s a benefit to me to walk out and have the hometown crowd behind me and my supporters who have been with me the last five years that I’ve competed here at Oklahoma State.”
There may be some logic behind the quick turnaround from college to professional. The window isn’t the largest for wrestlers looking to make the highest level in the sports — the Olympics. And with uncertainty of wrestling’s place in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, the sooner Oliver gets there, the better.
“My ultimate dreams and goals are to be a world champion and an Olympic champion, so this weekend, everything is on the line,” Oliver said.
It may be important for the Easton, Pa., to have the support behind him this weekend. Though Oliver finished second at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas in April, he will face a daunting task with a loaded field at 66 kilograms, which will wrestle Saturday.
First Oliver will likely have to go through Brent Metcalf, who Oliver narrowly defeated in the semifinals at the U.S. Open. Metcalf, a former Iowa Hawkeye, was a heavy favorite going into the Open and will likely be a favorite again this weekend.
If the two-time NCAA champion can get past him, standing in his way of a spot on Team USA will be Kellen Russell, who defeated Oliver in the U.S. Open final to earn a spot in the world trials best-of-three series final. Russell won two NCAA championships while at Michigan and already has one year of experience wrestling on the circuit.
“I just approach it the same, it’s always fun getting out there and wrestling the best. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Oliver said. “I’ve always lived by the motto and I love getting out there and competing against the best guys in our country and the best guys in the world. It’s exciting. This is what you train for.”
While Oliver will be back in Gallagher-Iba competing, he hasn’t quit calling Stillwater home. The recently former Oklahoma State wrestler has continued his professional wrestling training under his college coach, John Smith, and has continued training with Olympic medalist Coleman Scott.
And that amount of experience can do wonders, even more so for a talent like Oliver.
“It’s a very tough weight class. He’s going to have to have his best day,” Smith said. “And he’s been known to give us some great days.”