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Jordan Oliver’s home-grown mat talent came full circle this past year
By Willie Saylor
Easton, Pa., natives have gone on to coach in the NBA (Bob Weiss) and MLB (Dave Van Horne). Chuck Amato was the long-time assistant of Bobby Bowden at Florida State before taking over at North Carolina State. The longest tenured heavyweight champion of the world, Larry Holmes, lives in this community located 75 miles north of Philadelphia.
Easton has also produced a fair share of wrestlers. Bobby Weaver won gold in 1984. Jack Cuvo won two national titles at East Stroudsburg. JaMarr Billman and current Nebraska assistant, Bryan Snyder, racked up a combined seven NCAA medals.
And it wasn’t long before Jordan Oliver was a sensation. Every so often a kid comes through the Easton High School program and is billed the next big thing. But Jordan made good on that reputation, proving it every step of the way.
Oliver was a four-time state finalist and three-time champ; a rarity in Pennsylvania. He won Fargo. He won for the Dapper Dan and Dream Team squads. He was considered one of the most highly coveted recruits for the Class of 2008. But like all emerging talent, don’t guarantee success. He had to keep working.
When Oliver selected Oklahoma State, Eastonians applauded, thinking the slick-ish Jordan would develop perfectly under the tutelage of perhaps the greatest takedown artist in American history, John Smith.
Becoming a starter in 2009-10 at 133 pounds, Jordan led the Cowboys in takedowns and technical falls. With a season record of 32-4, he captured a Big XII title and a fourth-place finish at NCAAs, where his two losses came to Hodge Trophy winner, Jayson Ness, and recent World silver medalist, Franklin Gomez.
As a freshman All-American, the future seemed bright. But Oliver wasn’t pleased with his season. He had admittedly struggled with maintaining weight that season, and wrestled at a slower pace than what anyone who saw him previously were used to.
Many that followed his season assumed that he’d move up to 141 the following year. So, it came as a surprise when, still in the Quest Center in Omaha watching the finals, Jordan boldly announced he’d return to 133 next year with the goal of winning the title that eluded him hours before.
“Some people might have been happy with (fourth place),” Oliver said. “I guess All-American as a freshman is an accomplishment. But second through eighth isn’t what I wrestle for. There’s only one champ, and it really hurt not winning a title that year.”
Jordan says he used every practice after Omaha as motivation to get better; to make sure that the mistakes he made his freshman year wouldn’t be made in his sophomore year, particularly in top and bottom, and in his weight management.
And boy, did it work.
Oliver turned in one of the most dominant seasons in the country by posting a perfect 29-0 record and winning his first NCAA title in nearby Philadelphia.
He had 24 bonus point victories for an 83 percent rate and finished as second in the Hodge voting to eventual World champion Jordan Burroughs.
(The rest of this story can be found in the November 3, 2011, issue of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine. Click on “Subscribe to WIN” button or contact our office at 1-888-305-0606 to receive this issue and a one- or two-year subscription to WIN.)