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Photos: These are the sites of 2021 NCAA Division II Nationals in St. Louis and 2021 Olympic Trials in Ft. Worth that were moved from previous locations.
The NCAA and USA Wrestling announced on Feb. 11 that two of its notable tournaments — the 2021 Division II Championships and 2021 Olympic Trials — have found new homes in St. Louis and Ft. Worth, respectively, this March and April.
The NCAA Division II nationals were supposed to be held as part of the NCAA Division II Festival in Birmingham, Ala. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each championship was decoupled to hold its own independent event to better adhere to NCAA health and safety protocols. St. Louis’ more centralized location for the schools that sponsor Division II wrestling and ability to host on the originally scheduled dates of the championship were contributing factors for the move.
The 2021 event will take place at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, March 12-13 — one week before the NCAA Division I Nationals are held at Enterprise Arena in St. Louis — and will be hosted by Lindenwood University, Maryville University, McKendree University, and the St. Louis Sports Commission.
The Division II Wrestling Championships were previously held in St. Louis in 2015, and will return to Chaifetz Arena in 2022 as part of a previously-announced site selection.
“I would like to thank the St. Louis Sports Commission, Lindenwood, Maryville, and McKendree for stepping up to host the 2021 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships,” said Miles Van Hee, director of athletics at Western Colorado and chair of the NCAA Division II Wrestling Committee. “St. Louis was a great host for us in 2015 and an excellent location for Division II wrestling. This is a city that’s known for providing excellent NCAA championship experiences and our outstanding wrestlers and coaches are looking forward to that opportunity this season.”
Meanwhile, USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee have announced that the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling will be held at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, April 2-3.
The champions from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling will become eligible to represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, August 1-7, 2021.
On February 6, 2021, USA Wrestling, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics and the USOPC announced that the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling, originally scheduled for April 4-5, 2020 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. would be moved.
The competition will be held in the 18 Olympic weight classes in wrestling, which includes six weight classes in men’s freestyle (57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg, 125 kg), women’s wrestling (50 kg, 53 kg, 57 kg, 62 kg, 68 kg, 76 kg) and Greco-Roman (60 kg, 67 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, 97 kg, 130 kg).
Currently, the United States has qualified to compete in the Tokyo Games at 15 of the 18 weight classes, with only three weight classes remaining to qualify (77 kg Greco-Roman, 130 kg Greco-Roman, 65 kg men’s freestyle).
Fort Worth becomes only the 10th U.S. city to host a U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling since USA Wrestling became national governing body for wrestling in the United States in 1983. The only previous time it was held in Texas was in 2000, when Dallas hosted the event.
“USA Wrestling is extremely grateful to the Fort Worth Sports Authority, the incredible Dickies Arena and Texas USA Wrestling for their tireless efforts to host one of the most important wrestling events in the history of American wrestling,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director. “We are excited for not only the wrestling fans all over the globe, but, most importantly, our nation’s very best Olympic hopefuls who will compete on this world class stage for the coveted right to represent the United States of America at the Tokyo Olympic Games. No event in our sport provides more drama and emotion than the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and this year’s event will be no exception. A special thanks to our friends at Penn State University who made a valiant effort to host this year’s event. We are excited to be in Happy Valley in three short years for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.
This will be the fifth straight U.S. Olympic Team Trials in which all three Olympic wrestling teams were determined at the same time, with men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman all featured in the event. The previous U.S. Olympic Team Trials with all three teams determined were in Indianapolis (2004), Las Vegas (2008) and Iowa City (2012, 2016).
Dickies Arena, which is adjacent to the Will Rogers Memorial Center campus, is an exciting, state-of- the-art venue for events of all kinds, including concerts, sports, community events and the Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo performances. Dickies Arena opened in November 2019.