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Free the Brackets!

The Olympic Trials will be held on April 9th & 10th in Iowa City, and if you aren't excited for this you need to check your pulse. The field will be finalized the week before as qualifying isn't complete yet and then pre-seeds will be released shortly there after. Weigh-ins for each style will be done the night before competition (weight classes are wrestled to completion on one of the two days) and brackets will be released each night. In short, Saturday's brackets will be released about 6pm central on Friday and Sunday's brackets will be released about 6pm central on Saturday. In my opinion, this is a mistake for the growth of wrestling. 

These brackets are going to be incredible. Brent Metcalf, via not winning a medal at the 2015 World Championships, will have to navigate his way through a 14-16 man bracket fraught with peril. I (very amateurishly) drew up the 65 kg bracket with just my idea of what the seeds and draws could look like (don't worry folks I have nothing to do with the seeding or draws). I had Kellen Russell, Reece Humphrey, James Green, Zain Retherford, Jason Chamberlin, and Jimmy Kennedy just on that side of the bracket! Meaning Metcalf has to beat two or three of those awesome guys, with over 10,000 Iowa fans loudly cheering for him, just to reach the best two of three finals. My heart rate is elevated just thinking about it!  

We also have the ever popular Jake Herbert trying to make his 2nd Olympic team, and also does not get the luxury of sitting till the best 2 of 3.. His bracket will include Kyle Dake, David Taylor, Ed Ruth, and more! Where they will appear on the bracket won't be posted until Saturday night. 

The key quality, in the idea of promoting the event, of this is the depth at each weight. That's why having brackets out the week before would be such a boost (that and brackets are always fun to look at). Podcasts and articles detailed the NCAA brackets for a solid seven days leading up to the first round. Richard Immel & Jason Bryant went line by line through the whole thing throughout a nearly 2-hour episode. Our downloads for the Bloodround podcast was about 40% higher in that week as well. Brackets ahead of time is imperative to help build the anticipation and portray the grandeur of the event. We can all make our picks, see the road our upsets would have to take, and have a lot of fun while building up anticipation for the highest level of wrestling tournament American fans will see on their soil this year (and for the next four years for that matter). 

There is a seeding meeting that does take place after weigh-ins where coaches can make their cases, but this is 2016. We can do this via conference call the week before as there is very rarely change from pre-seeds to final seeds. Scratches really shouldn't be much of an issue either. This is the Olympic Trials. If people are qualified and have confirmed they're coming the week before, they're probably coming. No need to redraw a bracket because of one scratch. This isn't a tournament with team points and top 8 finishes to mean something. This is winner take all. 

This is not an article to bash USA Wrestling. I write this to detail why this should seriously change. USA Wrestling has an amazing product in the Olympic Trials. Brackets out the week before would help expose how this tournament features name after name of the biggest stars in our sport. I'll be there and am extremely excited for it! Free the brackets and grow wrestling!