Platte County could produce a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, possibly as many as three.
Starting next weekend, three wrestlers from area high schools will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials with a chance to earn a spot in the sport’s most prestigious field. Jake Fisher (2002 Platte County graduate), Brian Graham (2006 Park Hill graduate) and Alan Waters (2010 Park Hill graduate) have qualified for the trials and have a chance to make Team USA.
All three have uniquely different paths to take the weekend of April 9 and 10 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa in an effort to make it to Rio this summer.
A four-time state medalist, three-time finalist and two-time Class 1A-2A state champion who helped Platte County to three team state championships in high school, Fisher qualified for the 75-kg Greco-Roman competition and will compete at the Olympic trials for a third time. The United States already locked up an Olympic spot at that weight and discipline through Andy Bisek’s bronze medal finish in the 2015 World Championships.
Fisher would need to win Part I of the trials, a single-elimination tournament with a one-match final. The winner of Part I advances to face Bisek in a best of three final round to determine the Olympic qualifier.
A four-time state medalist and two-time state champion at Park Hill, Graham is at 66 kg for Greco-Roman, which the United States does not currently have a spot for at the Olympics. The winner of the trials tournament would advance to compete at one of two or both upcoming World Olympic Games qualifying tournaments — the first scheduled for April in Mongolia and the second scheduled for May in Istanbul.
The United States could also receive an at-large committee spot for the Olympics that would be determined in July.
Park Hill’s only four-time champion and a two-time All-American at the University of Missouri, Waters will be in the 57 kg freestyle division, which will have an Olympic spot. Tony Ramos earned the place as runner-up at the Pan-American qualifier, but unlike World Championship medalists, he does not receive a bye to the final series.
Instead, the tournament will produce two finalists, who will wrestle in a best-of-three format for the Olympic spot.
Graham and Waters will both be competing at Olympic Trials for the first time. In addition, 2005 Platte County graduate Julian Gunnels, a former state champion, will compete this weekend with a last chance to qualify for the Olympic trials at 66 kg in Greco-Roman.
Currently, the United States has Olympic qualifiers in 7 of 12 weight classes for men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman and 2 of 6 weight classes for women’s freestyle. Only one wrestler from the United States can qualify in each weight class of each discipline.