Who are the favorite men’s freestylers to become Olympic hopefuls?

Updated: April 15, 2024

The following is a look at what wrestlers will be making the biggest impact at the six weight classes in men’s freestyle at the 2024 Olympic Trials, held April 19-20 in State College, Pa. A Challenge Tournament will take place on Friday with the top two finishers advancing to Saturday’s Best-of-3 Championship Series. The exceptions will come at weights where 2023 World Championship placers automatically earned a spot in the Best-of-3 Championship Series.

Also, the two lightest weights still need to be qualified for the United States. The Olympic Trials winners at 57k and 65k will have one last chance to qualify the weight May 19-21 in Istanbul, Turkey.

WIN Magazine will provide updates from State College as well as present a comprehensive look back at the Trials in the next issue of WIN, which will be printed on May 1. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.

57/125.5 pounds

  • Zane Richards (Titan Mercury/Illini WC) The 30-year-old native of Carbondale, Ill., was a two-time AA at Illinois. He earned a spot on the 2023 World championship team when he bested Thomas Gilman at Final X. Richards went 0-1 in the 2023 Worlds.

    Thomas Gilman (right)

  • Thomas Gilman (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion) — Now 29, the former three-time All-American from Iowa and native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Nebraska state champ from Omaha, made the move to train with the NLWC three years ago. He proceeded to represent the United States in the 2020 Olympics, held in 2021 in Tokyo, where he earned a bronze medal, and then captured a gold medal in the 2021 World Championships.
  • Spencer Lee (Titan Mercury/Hawkeye WC) The former three-time NCAA champ and two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner returned to freestyle following his college career in 2023 and won the 2023 Senior Nationals last winter. The 25-year-old native of Murrysville, Pa., had excelled in freestyle before his college career, winning a Cadet and two Junior World championships.
  • Nick Suriano (SoCal RTC) — The former NCAA champ from both Rutgers and Michigan qualified for the Trials by winning the 2024 Pan Am Games. The New Jersey native also returns to State College, where he represented the Nittany Lions in 2017-18, but an injury prevented him from competing in the NCAAs, then transferred to Rutgers.
  • Daton Fix (Titan Mercury/Cowboy RTC) — The five-time All-American and four-time national runner-up, now 26, from Sand Springs, Okla., has competed in two Worlds; finishing 12th in 2019 at 57k and earned a silver medal in the 2021 Worlds at 61k. He also earned a bronze medal at the 2015 Cadet Worlds and 2016 Junior World Championships.

Other Notables: A trio of high school wrestlers have also qualified: Marcus Blaze from Perrysburg, Ohio; Luke Lilledahl from Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) and Penn State signee; and Jax Forrest from Bishop McCort HS in Pennsylvania.

65 kilos / 143.5 pounds

  • Zain Retherford (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion) – The former three-time NCAA champion and two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner for Penn State earned a spot in the semifinals of the Challenge Tournament when he won the non-Olympic weight of 70k in last fall’s World Championships. Now 28, the native of Benton, Pa., has wrestled in four previous Worlds; two at 65k, finishing 11th in 2017, 26th in 2019; and two at 70k, claiming a silver in 2022 and gold last fall.

    Zain Retherford (right)

  • Nick Lee (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion)The former two-time NCAA champ (2021 and ’22) from Penn State represented the USA at the 2023 Worlds Championships (placing seventh) after beating Yianni Diakomihalis in last year’s Final X. He is a 26-year-old native of Evansville, Ind.
  • Yianni Diakomihalis (Titan Mercury/Spartan Combat) — The former four-time NCAA champion (2018-19, 22-23) from Cornell has represented Team USA in two Senior Worlds; placing 12th in 2021 and earning a silver in 2022. The 25-year-old native of Rochester, N.Y., also won a gold medal in the 2016 Cadet Worlds.
  • James Green (Titan Mercury/Nebraska WTC) — Now 31, the former Nebraska All-American returned to Lincoln to train for freestyle after taking a few years off. Overall, he has wrestled in six Worlds, all at 70 kilos, earning a bronze in 2015 (Las Vegas), finishing 7th in 2016, capturing a silver in 2017, settling for 13th place in 2018 and 2019, before finishing 7th again in 2021.
  • Joey McKenna (Titan Mercury/Penn RTC) — Now 28, the native of Ridgewood, N.J., earned All-American honors at both Stanford and Ohio State, and has earned a pair of bronze medals at the U20 Worlds in 2014 and U23 Worlds in 2017.
  • Andrew Alirez (Titan Mercury/Northern Colorado RTC) — A 23-year-old native of his hometown college team in Greeley, Colo., the 2023 NCAA champion took an Olympic redshirt this season. The 2019 Junior Hodge Trophy winner qualified for the Trials by winning last December’s Senior Nationals (after also winning the U.S. Open in 2020).
  • Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez qualified for the Trials after winning 2024 NCAA championships at 133 pounds. Mendez, who defeated Penn State’s Bartlett (also a Trials qualifier) for the crown in Kansas City, earned a silver medal in the U20s in 2023.

74k/163 pounds

  • Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion), who won a silver medal in last year’s Worlds, earned a spot in Saturday’s Best-of-3 Championship Series. The 33-year-old native of Ithaca, N.Y., where he won four NCAA titles for Cornell, represented Team USA at the Tokyo Games, where he earned a bronze medal. He also has appeared in four other Worlds and won gold in each: 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022.

    Kyle Dake

  • Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids/Penn RTC), now 35, this native of Camden, N.J., once dominated this weight class for Team USA, including the 2012 Olympics where he won one of seven World/Olympic championship, before losing to Dake in the 2020 Trials. Four of his other titles came at 74 kilos in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, while the other two World titles came at 79 kilos in 2021 and 2022. The 10-time World/Olympic medalist has claimed bronze in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
  • Jason Nolf (Nittany Lion WC) finished second to Dake in last year’s Final X. The 28-year-old native of Yatesboro, Pa., ended his college career at Penn State in 2019 with a third national championship.

Other Notables

            There are five wrestlers who recently competed in the 2024 NCAA Championships, including a trio of champions: Penn State’s Levi Haines (157), Iowa State’s David Carr and Penn State’s Carter Starocci. Haines competed in the 2021 Cadet Worlds, finishing seventh. Carr won a Junior World title in 2019. Starocci won a fourth NCAA title, despite suffering a knee injury before the postseason.

            Meanwhile, a pair of former childhood teammates from Wisconsin, Penn State’s redshirt freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink (165) is coming off a second-place finish while Missouri’s senior Keegan O’Toole (165) claimed third in Kansas City. The Nittany Lion has earned a gold and silver medal in the last two U20 World Championships. The Tiger, who will return for one more college season, won a gold medal in the 2021 Junior Worlds.

86 kilos/189 pounds

  • David Taylor (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion), who won a third World championship last fall, earned a spot in the Best-of-3 Championship finals. Now 33, Taylor also won a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021) to go along with World championships in 2018, 2022 and 2023 and a silver medal in 2021. As a collegian, the former Penn State star won two NCAA titles and two Hodge Trophies.

    David Taylor (top)

  • Zahid Valencia (Sunkist Kids) moved up to the non-Olympic weight of 92 kilos, where he earned a bronze medal, which also earned him a spot in the semifinals of the Challenge tournament. The 26-year-old native of Bellflower, Calif., who won two NCAA titles for Arizona State, also won a silver medal in the 2017 Junior World Championships.
  • Aaron Brooks (Nittany Lion WC), who recently won a fourth NCAA title for Penn State, has also excelled in freestyle, winning the U23 World championship in 2023 and also finishing second to David Taylor in last summer’s Final X. He also has competed in three other age-group Worlds, winning a gold in the 2017 Cadets and silver in the 2018 Junior Worlds.
  • Chance Marsteller (Titan Mercury/NYC RTC) competed in last year’s Worlds — where he split two matches — after he beat Jordan Burroughs in last summer’s Final X at 79 kilos. A native of New Park, Pa., wrestled first at Oklahoma State before transferring Lock Haven, where he won two All-American honors.
  • Trent Hidlay (Wolfpack RTC) recently earned his fifth AA honor when he settled for second place to Brooks at the NCAA. In freestyle, the native of Lewistown, Pa., earned a silver medal in the 2022 U23 Worlds and bronze in the 2019 Junior Worlds.

97 kilos/213.5 pounds

  • Kyle Snyder (Titan Mercury/Nittany Lion) also earned a spot in Saturday’s Best-of-3 Championship Series by earning a bronze medal in last year’s Worlds. That marked the ninth overall World/Olympic medal for the 28-year-old native of Woodbine, Md. Among his gold medals was a 2016 Olympic championship in Rio in 2016, while his three other World championships came in 2015, 2017 and 2022. The three-time NCAA champ from Ohio State also appeared in the 2020 Games, where he settled for a silver medal. His other medal performances were silvers in the 2018 and 2021 Worlds and another bronze in the 2019 Worlds.

    Kyle Snyder (right)

  • J’den Cox (Cliff Keen RTC) has already wrestled in one Olympics, earning a bronze medal in 2016 in Rio when he competed at 86 kilos … shortly after winning a third NCAA title for Missouri. Since then, the 29-year-old from Columbia, Mo., has earned five other World medals, including gold in 2018 and 2019 at the non-Olympic weight of 92 kilos. He also won a silver in 2022 and two bronzes (2017 and 2021). Unfortunately, he failed to make weight in the 2020 Trials.
  • Isaac Trumble (Wolfpack RTC), 22-year-old native of Springfield, Neb., won a gold medal in last October’s U23 World Championships. He took an Olympic redshirt this season after appearing in two NCAAs for NC State.
  • Michael Macchiavello (Titan Mercury/Lehigh Valley RTC) is another former NC State wrestler who won an NCAA title in 2018. The 29-year-old native of Charlotte, N.C. competed in 2023 Final X, where he lost to Zahid Valencia.
  • Kollin Moore (Titan Mercury/Ohio RTC) is former All-American from Ohio State and 2019 U23 World silver medalist. The 26-year-old native of Burbank, Ohio, reached the finals of the 2020 Olympic Trials, where he lost to Kyle Snyder.
  • Nathan Jackson (New York AC), the former Indiana All-American who was an assistant coach at Princeton until 2022, won a Pan Am Games championship this past year at 92 kilos.

125 kilos/275 pounds

  • Mason Parris (Titan Mercury/Cliff Keen) earned a spot in Saturday’s Best-of-3 Finals when he earned a bronze medal in last year’s Worlds. The former NCAA champ and Dan Hodge Trophy winner from Michigan earned a spot in the 2023 Worlds, when 2020 Olympic champion and 2023 Final X champ announced that he would not compete in the Worlds. The 24-year-old native of Lawrenceburg, Ind., also won a gold medal in the 2019 Junior Worlds.

    Mason Parris (left)

  • Hayden Zillmer (Gopher WC RTC) represented the United States at the 2022 Worlds, where he placed seventh. The 31-year-old native of Crosby, Minn., has grown in many ways in this sport, literally. After wrestling at 84 pounds in middle school, he later become an All-American at 184 pounds for North Dakota State in 2016.
  • Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury/Spartan Combat), also 31, has won a pair of bronze medals at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. The native of Duanesburg, N.Y., also won consecutive NCAA titles at NC State in 2014 and 2015.
  • Dom Bradley (Sunkist Kids), 35, is an assistant coach at Missouri where he earned All-American honors for the Tigers. The former Junior World champ also won the 2023 Senior Nationals.

Other Notables: A pair of 2024 NCAA All-Americans could make an impact on this weight, including Penn State’s national champion Greg Kerkvliet, who won a Cadet gold medal at 100 kilos in 2017 and placed fifth in the 2019 U23 Worlds. The other is Wyatt Hendrickson, who settled for third the past two Nationals for Air Force after winning a gold medal in the 2023 U23 Worlds.