TRIAL BY FIRE: Princeton University wrestler Lenny Merkin gets pumped up with Sebby the Sloth, a mascot that he created, in the Utah Salt Flats. Earlier this month, Merkin competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Fort Worth, Texas, in the 67-kilogram Greco-Roman event. Senior Merkin fell 9-0 to Benjamin Peak in the first round and then lost 12-4 to Calvin Germinaro in a consolation match in his debut appearance at the event. (Photo provided courtesy of provided by Lenny Merkin)
By Justin Feil
Lenny Merkin culminated a rocky year by making his debut at the United States Olympic Trials in Greco Roman style wrestling.
The Princeton University senior was disappointed with an early exit after two matches at the Trials on April 2 held in Fort Worth, Texas, but is using it to fuel his desire to go for a spot in the next Olympics.
“Now that I got my foot in the door, I’m really optimistic about 2024,” said Merkin.
“I’ve seen the stage. I’ve competed with the best guys in the weight class. The guy who’s on the Olympic team, I had a really close match with the last time I wrestled him. He’s beaten me every time, but I think I’m finally starting to understand how to wrestle Greco on the senior level. Now is the perfect time for me to start working on the things that I’m missing. I think not qualifying is going to be my driving force for the following Olympics.”
Merkin is the only Tiger wrestler to qualify for this year’s Trials. Princeton University assistant coach Nate Jackson also qualified and competed at the Trials in Fort Worth, Texas, without winning an Olympic berth.
“It’s an important step in our process,” said Princeton University wrestling head coach Chris Ayres.
“It affirmed to me more than ever we need to get an Olympic gold medal to Princeton. That’s my goal. To have this step where we had two guys at the Trials, it made me more motivated to say we can do this thing.” more