Wrestling at the collegiate level is usually more challenging and competitive than wrestling in high school. The best university programs enlist intense wrestling breeding grounds, drawing top-ranked amateurs and champions from various states. Colleges at the NCAA Division II and Division III levels recruit the best high schools athletes in their region, as do NAIA and junior college programs. Incoming freshmen practice and sometimes go up against more experienced and mature wrestlers.

Training and Practice

College wrestlers spend many long seasons in their wrestling singlets working out and practicing. Many coaches demand constant, year-round dedication to the sport. Strength-and-conditioning coaches plan rigorous programs for each team member. This time and dedication is a huge step up from many wrestlers used to competing in high school. Incoming freshmen have to get used to the amount of work that is required to wrestle at the collegiate level quickly.

Team Members and Competition

College recruits are typically the cream of the crop of their high school and amateur teams. Once they join a team in college, however, the playing field quickly changes and many of them find it a lot tougher to compete in meets, struggling for an opportunity. Many wrestlers start their college careers being ‘redshirted’ which basically means practicing with the team without being on the active roster.

Opponents and Experience Level

A typical incoming college freshman is 17 or 18 years old. Because many colleges use redshirt years to keep players for five years, freshman may contend with opponents who may be 23 years old. Even for wrestlers used to “wrestling up” against older people, this can be a steep match.

Besides wrestling, many incoming college athletes also face the challenge of adjusting being away from home, school work and a change of environment. However, no great challenge is void of an award. College athletes can be a great way to spend time in college, and if it’s something you are passionate about, it can be an incredibly amazing experience.