Going on to compete in a sport like wrestling at the college level is something only a fraction of high school athletes ever get to experience. For one thing, colleges can draw from a much larger prospect pool, so making the team in the first place is significantly tougher than in high school. For another thing, eligibility requirements for remaining on the team are generally much stricter than the standards applied to grades 9-12.

But that’s not to say a college wrestling career is completely out of reach. If you’re unwilling to retire your singlet and hang up your Cliff Keen headgear for good after high school, consider this advice about how to wrestle in college and for the NCAA:

  • Don’t expect recruiters to come to you unless you’re legitimately one of the best wrestlers in the country. Instead, be proactive about contacting coaches at the schools you want to attend.
  • Be mature, respectful, and formal when communicating with scouts, coaches, and other staff members associated with the athletic department.
  • Pay attention to the general admissions requirements for any school you wish to attend, not just the eligibility requirements for athletes.
  • Have a trusted friend or family member record all your matches so you can put together a highlight reel to send to prospective schools.
  • Enter as many well-known tournaments and competitions as possible to gain exposure to the best wrestling talents out there. Even middle school wrestlers can get noticed by registering for events such as the PSAL Thanksgiving Dual Meet Invitational.
  • Understand that NCAA Division I teams are comprised of the nation’s most elite grapplers. If you’re not quite at that level yet, be prepared to take a look at Division II schools, Division III schools, or junior colleges.
  • When you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, consider trying out for the team as a walk-on.
  • Keep your parents involved in the whole process so they can offer you the guidance and support you’ll need along the way.

Wrestling competitively beyond high school, whether for a top-tier NCAA Division I team or for a local junior college, is not in the cards for everyone. But with enough hard work, determination, and skill, you might be able to use your Suplay wrestling gear for a few more seasons. Just follow the advice above, keep your grades up, and continue doing everything you can to improve on the mat.