Jordan Burroughs enrolled at the University of Nebraska as a skinny, wide-eyed freshman with plenty to learn.
Ohio State’s Logan Stieber and Penn State’s David Taylor arrived at their respective schools with lofty expectations.
And none of them ever left.
United World Wrestling has designated May as World Wrestling Month. UWW is focusing its social media campaign in part on #WhereITrain, which is designed to take a closer look at where wrestlers train to achieve their goals of being Olympic champions.
Many top American wrestlers train at schools that not only feature top-flight collegiate programs but have regional training centers where athletes can continue to train internationally after college. So when stars like Burroughs, Stieber and Taylor finish college, they can transition full-time to international wrestling while continuing to train in the same place.
Here is a look at where 13 of the top American wrestlers train and why:
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Tony Ramos, University of North Carolina
Ramos was an NCAA champion for Iowa before making two straight world championship teams while continuing to train in the always strong Hawkeye room. Ramos lost in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials before moving to North Carolina, where he now trains with and is coached by Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott. The move appears to have paid off with Ramos learning from a new coach and winning the U.S. Open this year.
Jordan Oliver, Arizona State
Oliver, a two-time NCAA champion, also switched training locales. He went from Oklahoma State, where he won two NCAA titles, to Arizona State. He is now coached by former U.S. national coach Zeke Jones, ASU’s head coach. Oliver trains with Canadian Olympian Haislan Garcia and recently won the U.S. Open.
Kyle Dake, Cornell University
A four-time NCAA champion in four different weight classes, Dake has been unable to break through internationally while being stuck behind studs like Olympic medalists Jordan Burroughs and J’den Cox. Many think this is Dake’s year, but he suffered a criteria loss to Burroughs at the U.S. Open. They likely will meet again next month at the World Team Trials. Dake trains in a beautiful state-of-the-art facility on the sparkling Cornell campus where he wrestled in college.
Ellis Coleman, U.S. Army, Fort Carson, Colorado
The U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program has a long history of success, particularly in Greco-Roman. Coleman, a 2012 Olympian who earned national attention for his famous “flying squirrel” move, is among the top athletes for WCAP. Coleman just made the U.S. world team after being slowed by injuries in recent years. The Army program is very deep and has produced numerous Olympians and world team members. It’s been one of the world’s top training programs for decades.
Alli Ragan, Robby Smith, U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado
World silver medalist Ragan and Olympian Smith are among the many women’s freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman wrestlers who call the OTC in Colorado Springs, Colorado home. While many of the top freestyle stars train with regional training centers on college campuses, most of the women and Greco stars are in the Springs. The newly renovated wrestling room at the OTC is an elite facility. And there is no shortage of top quality practice partners. An added bonus is all the amenities available at the world-class training complex.
David Taylor, Penn State
Taylor is part of the loaded Penn State room that has won six of the last seven NCAA titles. Taylor recently won the U.S. Open. Two of his mentors and training partners are Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and assistant Jake Varner, a pair of Olympic champions. He also trains with reigning NCAA champion Bo Nickal. PSU has built an outstanding post-college program with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.
J’den Cox, University of Missouri
Cox was a surprise bronze medalist at the 2016 Olympics before he capped his college career by winning his third NCAA title in 2017. He grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and has never left his hometown affectionately known as CoMo. He will continue to train at Mizzou, while coaching as well. Missouri has been a top place to train, going back to when two-time NCAA champion Ben Askren made the 2008 Olympic team after wrestling at Mizzou.
Helen Maroulis, New York RTC
An Olympic and world champion, Maroulis has trained in Maryland, Michigan, Canada, Colorado and California before moving to the new regional training center in New York City. World champion and two-time Olympian Elena Pirozhkova also is there now, along with their coach, Valentin Kalika. Maroulis has made huge gains the past few years until Kalika’s tutelage.
Jordan Burroughs, James Green, University of Nebraska
Burroughs went from not placing at his first NCAAs to winning two NCAA titles, three world titles and an Olympic gold medal. He developed at Nebraska under coaches Mark Manning and Bryan Snyder, who still coach him. Snyder, a two-time NCAA runner-up, has been his long-time training partner. Green is another training partner now. He’s a former Husker as well, who won a bronze medal at the 2015 world championships. Nebraska also has a recently built, and very plush, wrestling facility in Lincoln.
Kyle Snyder, Logan Stieber, Ohio State
Snyder and Stieber led the Buckeyes to their first national title in 2015. Snyder became the youngest world champion in U.S. history in 2015 and the youngest Olympic champion in 2016. He’s done it internationally while also wrestling collegiately, where he’s won two NCAA titles with one year to go. Stieber won four NCAA titles before earning a world title in 2016. The room is loaded with college studs and post-college athletes with gold-medal dreams.
Craig Sesker is a sportswriter based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has covered three Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.