Stillwater junior LaDarion Lockett excited to wrestle at U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Apr. 17—LaDarion Lockett feels no pressure for the first time as a wrestler.

The Stillwater High School junior will compete to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team on Friday and Saturday at the team trials in State College, Pennsylvania.

Lockett is the lowest-seeded wrestler (No. 13) in the 74-kilogram bracket, the most loaded weight class at this year's trials and the most successful weight class in American freestyle wrestling history. He qualified by winning the U17 World Championships this past summer.

His first match will be against Quincy Monday, a three-time All-American, NCAA finalist and the son of Olympic gold medalist Kenny Monday. Lockett is expected to be one-and-done, and he's glad to be the ultimate underdog.

"Usually, I'm the 1- or 2-seed and they're expecting me to do real well. It's the first time I've ever been the very last seed," Lockett said. "I'm really excited. I'm looking to take somebody out and try to make it to the big stage."

If Lockett were to advance past the first round, he would then need to beat Mitchell Messenbrink, the reigning Big 10 champion and NCAA runner-up out of Penn State. Then, he would likely find himself against Jordan Burroughs, who holds the record for most Olympic and World Championships in American history.

"That would be crazy," Lockett said. "He won his first Olympic title when I was 5 years old."

If Lockett represents the United States at the 2024 Paris Olympics, that would mean he then beats Jason Nolf, a three-time national champion from Penn State, and Kyle Dake, a four-time World Champion and the bronze medalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In short, Lockett would need to go on one of the greatest runs in freestyle wrestling history.

But no one expects that out of him. It's an incredible achievement to even be there among the best wrestlers in the country, and Lockett has a long career ahead of him.

Right now, it's the process that's most important to him — working hard to develop his body and skills.

"I've been training every day besides Wednesdays," Lockett said. "I've been with the chiropractor and I'm in the sauna and the cold tub. And I'm getting conditioning every morning at 8 a.m."

When it's time to wrestle, Stillwater coach Ethan Kyle said he expects Lockett to be "cool as a cucumber."

"He'll enjoy himself. He'll wrestle really hard," Kyle said. "If anybody is not on top of their game, even though he's 17 still and a high school junior, he's going to be prepared to wrestle his best. I really feel confident."

Cowboys to compete at Olympic Team Trials

Oklahoma State redshirt freshman Christian Carroll and graduates Daton Fix and Alex Dieringer will also be at the team trials.

Carroll was a late addition to the 97 kg bracket, earning his spot with a first-place finish at the Last Chance Qualifier on April 7. The No. 1 pound-for-pound recruit in the class of 2023 outscored his four opponents 42-7 and picked up three technical falls.

Carroll is the ninth-seeded wrestler in his bracket and will face Tony Cassioppi in the first round. Cassioppi is a four-time All-American from the University of Iowa and won the gold medal at the 2021 U23 Men's Freestyle World Championships.

Carroll credited his first year in OSU's wrestling room for his "day and night" development compared to where he was in high school.

"How do you not get better in that environment?," Carroll asked. "We're on the rise and we're coming."

It has been less than a month since Fix wrestled for the last time in an orange singlet. And in that time, he has needed to cut about eight pounds to compete in the 57 kg bracket.

"It's not an easy cut, but I really don't have a choice. I could go up, but I'd be undersized. I think being at 57 kilos, that gives me the best chance to accomplish my goals," Fix said. "I feel that at 57 kilos, I can beat anybody in the world."

Fix has a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed and will wrestle the winner between No. 6 Nick Suriano and No. 11 Marcus Blaze in the second round. Suriano controversially defeated Fix in his first of four NCAA finals losses.

The other top-five wrestlers in Fix's bracket are Zane Richards, Thomas Gilman, Spencer Lee and Nico Megaludis.

Dieringer, arguably the greatest Cowboy of the 21st century, is the No. 4 seed at 86 kilos. He underwent hip surgery in September 2022 and won the Senior Nationals in December 2023.

The 30-year-old is set up for a likely quarterfinal match against Aaron Brooks, who is coming off his fourth straight NCAA title. David Taylor, the gold medalist at the 2020 Olympics, has a bye to the finals.