By Jeremy Rubin
Five Stanford wrestling student-athletes will enter the transfer portal due to the university’s decision to discontinue wrestling and 10 other sports at the varsity level. The student-athletes are redshirt senior Nathan Traxler, redshirt junior Haydn Maley, redshirt sophomore Shane Griffith and redshirt freshmen Jaden Abas and Logan Ashton.
The five student-athletes will do so “with the full support and encouragement of their coaches, teammates, and families,” Keep Stanford Wrestling, a group dedicated to maintaining the sport’s varsity status, wrote in a statement yesterday.
All five have committed to remaining at the University through this academic year and intend to retract their names from the transfer portal and wrestle for the Cardinal this upcoming NCAA wrestling season. Following the 2020-21 academic year, in what the statement calls “a worst-case scenario,” they hope to earn their undergraduate degrees before becoming graduate transfers elsewhere.
However, if Stanford were to reinstate the program, “all will stay at Stanford through the conclusion of their academic and athletic careers,” according to the statement.
“The resolve and optimism that our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, supporters, and families continue to feel toward keeping Stanford Wrestling remains unchanged,” the statement says. “Our students are simply executing our plan. They enter the portal today so they can receive information from schools they would consider should Stanford maintain its uncharacteristic course.”
The latest Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine preseason national rankings show Stanford Wrestling tied for 13th nationally and first in the Pac-12 entering the 2020-21 season.
A two-time team captain, Traxler is ranked ninth in the nation in the 197-pound weight class. He finished last season 20-5 and qualified for the NCAA Championships as a No. 12 seed prior to its cancellation.
Maley was a 2020 team captain and finished with a 5-2 record in an injury-shortened season. As a redshirt freshman, he had a 23-12 record and was runner-up at the 2019 Pac-12 Championships.
Griffith is currently third in the country in the 165-pound weight class entering the upcoming season following his finish with an unblemished 28-0 record last season. He was a Hodge trophy finalist and was one of three All-Americans on the team in 2019, along with Traxler and fellow redshirt sophomore Real Woods.
Abas won three tournaments in his first year on the Farm — the Reno Tournament of Champions, Southern Scuffle and California Collegiate Open — and ended with a 23-4 record which includes a 17-match win streak to finish his season. In high school, he was a two-time California state champion and was the best 149-pound prospect out of California following high school.
Ashton competed in just 13 matches last season, finished with a 6-7 record, but was a four-year captain and four-year letterwinner of his high school team. The Buford native is a two-time Georgia state champion and had a career record of 188-11 throughout high school.
“Should any student-athlete choose to continue their collegiate athletic careers at another institution,” Stanford Athletics commented, “the department will do everything that it can to support them in their decision.” The department also reaffirmed its commitment to honor all existing scholarships.
Since the University’s decision to discontinue the wrestling program in July, Keep Stanford Wrestling has raised more than $10 million to save the sport. Multiple op-eds have been published in response, including three written by parents of Traxler, redshirt junior Ethan Woods and freshman Kyle Rowan.