Michigan Wrestling: Myles Amine will continue wrestling after Olympic bronze
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Michigan Wrestling: What's Next For Olympic Medalist Myles Amine?

It might seem like a foregone conclusion that Olympic bronze medalist and Michigan All-American wrestler Myles Amine is going to continue wrestling. But even recently that wasn’t a sure thing once the Tokyo Games ended.

In March — his sixth season in college — the Brighton, Mich., native became the eighth Michigan grappler ever to earn four All-America honors, after placing third at 197 pounds — his third time finishing the NCAA Championships in third, after redshirting as a true freshman and then taking an Olympic redshirt in 2019-20.

However, going into Tokyo, he wasn’t sure how much longer his wrestling career would continue.

Michigan Wolverines wrestling All-American Myles Amine won an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo
Amine (right, with U-M head coach Sean Bormet) captured a bronze medal in Tokyo for San Marino, who he competes for thanks to his family heritage. (Twitter.com/Sean_Bormet)

“I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to take my wrestling career after this Olympic cycle,” he admitted. “I have an undergrad business degree from University of Michigan Ross, which is a great business school, and I didn’t necessarily know how long my wrestling career was going to play out.

“I always had big goals in the business industry, and I wanted to get my career started.”

A historic performance that ended with him claiming a bronze medal for San Marino — a roughly 24-square-mile country that is enclaved by Italy and is where his mother’s grandfather is from — has changed things.

“It’s convinced me to stick around the sport for longer,” Amine told The Wolverine last week. “That’s for sure, and that says a lot. I was really torn, so I’m just really excited about the future — my wrestling and our program’s wrestling is only going to sky rocket from here.”

Now, the question everybody wants to know is, will he take advantage of the NCAA’s decision to make last season a free year of eligibility? Does he wrestle again for the University of Michigan, with his sights set on not only becoming the program’s first-ever five-time All-American but its 23rd NCAA champion, and or does he turn his focus from college to freestyle competition for U-M’s Cliff Keen Wrestling Club?

Amine and fellow Wolverine Olympian Stevan Micic both have to make that decision soon. It’s worth pointing out the Wolverines will co-host the NCAA Championships at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit next March. In addition, it will be 100th year of Michigan wrestling, which has posted three straight top-five NCAA finishes.

With the extra year of eligibility, there’s also likely going to be a record number of All-Americans and NCAA champions in the field, which could in U-M head coach Sean Bormet’s eyes create “the most exciting NCAA Tournament we’ve ever had.”

“We’re hosting and it’s the 100-year anniversary for our program. There’s a lot of neat factors, so I’m making sure Myles and Stevan are fully aware of these things,” he said with a laugh.

What’s next in the immediate future for Amine is some well-deserved relaxation and reflection in San Marino. He left last Wednesday from Michigan to head back overseas and “go have a little celebration before I get back to work.”

There will be time spent with family, a parade and awards celebration, and even a meeting with the President of the country, but Amine also expects to make some big-time decisions during his week-plus in San Marino.

“This is going to be a celebratory trip, but it’s also going to be a decision-making trip, where I’ll have some more time on my own to think, whether that’s on the plane or over a cup of morning coffee in San Marino,” he said. “I’ll have some important decisions to make when I get back, so stay tuned, because they’re going to be coming pretty soon.”

“I’ll have some important decisions to make when I get back [from San Marino], so stay tuned, because they’re going to be coming pretty soon.”
— Amine on if he'll wrestle for U-M in 2021-22

Never Giving Up

Amine doesn’t come off as cocky, but there is no doubting his confidence. Bormet says that is thanks to all of the preparations his star pupil went through leading up to Tokyo.

“When you really know you’re prepared, you’re confident,” the coach explained.

Despite being injured at FloWrestling’s RTC Cup, held in December — he suffered a skier’s tear and broke his thumb, which required surgery to repair — once Amine returned to the mat, it was non-stop with an eye on Tokyo.

The coach noted Amine “hustled back” from surgery to compete for U-M up at 197 pounds — he had previously wrestled at 174 pounds, and 184, which is where Amine expects to compete if he returns to college, seems like a more natural weight class — in order to stay as big as possible for Tokyo, where he wrestled at 86 kilograms (189.6 pounds).

Not all Olympians with college eligibility decided to compete for their schools this past winter, but Amine wanted to be “all in for Michigan” per Bormet and compete.

And compete he did. After wrestling two duals in the rugged Big Ten, he upset the nation’s No. 1 197-pounder to claim U-M’s first individual conference title since 2018. Before he even made the finals, he had to prevail in a pair of overtime matches against All-Americans from Penn State and Iowa.

Michigan All-American wrestler Myles Amine has placed third at the NCAA Championships three times
Amine entered the NCAA Championships last year as the No. 1 seed despite wrestling up at 197 pounds, but battled his way to third place after what he called a heart-breaking loss in the semifinals (USA Today Sports Images)

He earned the No. 1 seed for NCAAs and faced eventual NCAA champion AJ Ferrari of Oklahoma State in the semifinals and lost 5-1. Amine won’t deny it — he was devastated following that bout.

“I dealt with some serious heartbreak,” he said. “When I think back to that moment, the night of the semifinals, I think that really defined a big moment in my wrestling career. A lot of what I’ve been taught growing up is we’re not defined by our greatest moments, we’re defined by our biggest failures and how we respond.

“I remember being in the hotel room that Friday night and I was at the low of lows. … Just to think back to that and then to get that bronze medal, it made that moment that much more special for me. I think that’s a perfect way to define my career — I just keep fighting, and I’m going to continue to keep fighting.

“Eventually, it’s going to pay off — and it’s already starting to — but in even bigger ways.”

From Third In The NCAA To Third In The Olympics

Amine faced plenty of challenges at the Olympics as well. After taking a loss, his fate actually rested in his opponent’s hands. Once David Taylor of the U.S. made the finals, Amine was pulled back into the repechage, the Olympics’ version of a consolation bracket.

Following a 2-0 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, Amine wrestled for the bronze medal. At the end of the first period, he trailed the runner-up from the previous World Championships, 2-1.

“I went into that second period knowing I had to make something happen,” he admitted. “… I was in a flow state for that whole second period, especially that last minute.”

With 30 seconds left, Amine shot a single deep enough to grab his opponent’s leg. After a back-and-forth battle on the edge of the mat that lasted about 20 seconds, he secured the winning takedown.

“Once that leg was up in the air, I wasn’t letting go of that leg,” he said. “I was going to make sure I did everything in my power to come out with that takedown and win that match. The amount of work I put in for this Olympics was summed up in that 30 seconds.

“I knew I didn’t want all my hard work to go to waste, so I had to find a way to make it happen.”

Not Done Yet

Although his Michigan wrestling legacy is secured as the program's first-ever freestyle Olympic medalist, there are plenty of reasons to think Amine isn’t done accomplishing his lofty goals on the mat just yet.

And he has a not-so-secret weapon in his corner in three-time NCAA champion and former Hodge Trophy (wrestling’s Heisman) winner Alex Dieringer, who is now a member of the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club and Amine took to Tokyo as his training partner.

Although Dieringer has been with Cliff Keen since last April, injuries — to both Amine and Dieringer — and COVID-related shutdowns had prevented the two training together much until this past May.

Amine makes it clear, he’s had great training partners in the past that have helped and taught him a lot. But Dieringer, who he remembers watching dominate in college at Oklahoma State as a high-schooler, is a game-changer.

Michigan wrestling All-American Myles Amine is still young in his freestyle career
U-M head coach Sean Bormet noted Amine in still young in his freestyle career and therefore "has a lot of upside." (USA Today Sports Images)

“It was great because he’s a guy that’s not necessarily a Michigan man, but he brought a new, fresh perspective into our program,” Amine said. “He’s a winner. The guy’s a Hodge Trophy winner and three-time NCAA champ.

“… I’ve really only had a few months [training] with him, but he’s made a world of difference for me.”

Amine knows he has a target on his back now as an Olympic medalist whenever he steps on a wrestling mat now. He’s also more motivated than ever to continue checking off wrestling goals.

“This has been a life-long goal of mine. I know how hard I worked to get here,” Amine said. “I visualized myself doing it time and time again, but it’s still a little bit different when it comes to fruition. … I get to sit back and relax for a couple weeks, then for me it just makes me more motivated to get back to it.”

Unlike many of the international competitors he saw on the Olympic stage, Amine is still young in freestyle wrestling, which has some distinct rule and scoring differences from the folkstyle wrestling typically done in America.

No matter the style, Bormet has seen Amine — somebody he has known since birth — continue to advance his wrestling and sees no end in sight for that aspect of his game.

“I’ve seen Myles consistently improve year after year, since he came to Michigan,” the coach said. “That’s just how he’s wired. It’s part of how he’s driven, how he pushes himself in training. In a positive way he’s critical of his performances and training, in terms of his technical ability and where he needs to make gains.

“Even within five minutes after that match for the bronze medal, he was already talking about some of the things he identified from the Olympic games that he knows he needs to start working on right away.

“… He’s got a lot of upside, especially in freestyle. He really hasn’t had a ton of freestyle competitions; he wasn’t a guy that grew up doing freestyle his whole life. Most of his freestyle experience has been towards the end of his collegiate career these last few years.”

Amine stopped short of calling the Olympic medal his greatest accomplishment, and there is a simple reason for that approach.

“I would definitely say it’s among the best moments,” he said. “I don’t know if I could name it the top moment, but it’s definitely in my top five. Especially just being at the Olympic Games, it kinda transcends wrestling to what a lot of people consider the pinnacle of sport.

“I knew that the wrestling world was watching, but the rest of the world was watching too. It obviously ranks among the highest of my achievements, but I don’t want to put it at the top, I want to say my best achievement is the next one.

"I want to stay hungry. I think I still got a lot more in me, so I want to strive for more. … I look forward to continuing my international career and picking up where I left off. I’m excited for what the future holds.”

So is the wrestling world, now that Amine will officially be sticking around on the mat a little longer.

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