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Olympic wrestling medalist says no to football

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Olympic wrestling bronze medalist J’den Cox reportedly chose not to pursue football for the University of Missouri in the fall.

Cox, 22, was announced Thursday as a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at Missouri, where he won three NCAA titles and exhausted his NCAA eligibility this past season.

Cox, who is still an active international wrestler, chose to join Missouri’s wrestling staff rather than attempt to supplement his wrestling training with one season of college football. The all-state linebacker in high school is eligible to play one year of college football because he didn’t use a redshirt season in wrestling.

Cox met several times with Missouri football coach Barry Odom after winning his last NCAA title in March before telling Odom this week of his decision, according to the Kansas City Star.

Cox said in August that he planned to play football at Missouri. He was less emphatic after winning his last NCAA title in March, saying that night he would discuss it with Odom.

Cox is expected to compete in the world championships team trials next month, vying for the one U.S. spot in the 86kg freestyle field at worlds in Paris in August.

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Devon Allen: Football on hold to pursue Olympic gold medal, world record

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Oregon wide receiver and Olympic hurdler Devon Allen is turning professional in track and field and doesn’t expect to return to football until after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“That will give me the best opportunity to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the future, and that is winning a gold medal and holding the world record in the 110m hurdles,” Allen said Wednesday.

Allen, a 21-year-old junior, said his decision was more the result of finishing fifth in the Olympics — lower than he hoped, but motivating — than suffering a second torn ACL playing football on Sept. 17.

Allen had previously torn an ACL in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, and came back faster to win the Olympic Trials 110m hurdles on July 9 in a personal-best time.

“I was kind of balancing between going professional or not after the Olympic Trials [in July],” Allen said. “I ran in the Olympics, kind of was a little disappointed with my finish. So I was like, you know, maybe I’ll just play this football season out since I didn’t win a gold medal, and see how that goes. I think, either way, I would have turned professional pretty soon.”

Allen expects to return to track training in January and repeated Wednesday that he’s eyeing a return at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento from June 22-25.

“My ideal scenario is to run track for the next couple years, and then 2020 Olympics, win a gold medal, have the world record, put that to the side and try to play football,” Allen said. “My mind changes a lot, too. So you never know. Next year, I might not want to do track anymore. But I think, for right now, I want to focus on track for the next three to four years.”

One of Allen’s goals is very realistic — the Olympic gold medal. He finished 2016 ranked No. 2 in the world in the 110m hurdles behind Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica.

The world record would require a hefty improvement. Allen’s personal best is 13.03 seconds. The world record is 12.80.

Allen is optimistic he will continue to speed up. He was the only man in the Rio 110m hurdles final who had never previously competed internationally.

“If I had spent my full time focusing on track, like a lot of the other guys do, I think it gives me a better opportunity to perform well on that kind of stage,” Allen said. “I think that will give me the best opportunity to win a gold medal.”

Allen also said he wanted to move into other events, the 100m, 200m, 400m hurdles and maybe even the decathlon.

Allen tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game Sept. 17.

It’s the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. Allen returned from that injury to play in 12 of 13 games for the Ducks in the 2015 season.

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Devon Allen: I can still be a two-sport athlete

Devon Allen
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Devon Allen hopes to return to track and field competition next spring after suffering a major left knee injury playing wide receiver for the University of Oregon on Sept. 17.

Allen, who finished fifth in the Rio Olympic 110m hurdles, said Wednesday that one of his goals is to compete in the U.S. Championships in Sacramento from June 22-25.

He also said it’s possible he could race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on May 27.

Allen, a 21-year-old junior, tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return Sept. 17.

He said it’s the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. Allen returned from that injury to play in 12 of 13 games for the Ducks in the 2015 season.

“I still think I can be a two-sport athlete,” said Allen, who had surgery on Oct. 7 and is currently on crutches. “I’ve come back from it once already. I pretty much competed at the pinnacle of our sport coming off a knee injury, and I’m pretty sure I can do it again.”

Allen expects to be able to run in three or four months after the surgery, but being able to compete in the 2016 NCAA track season “is kind of pushing it.”

Before this injury, Allen said his NCAA track career may be over. On Aug. 25, he expressed a desire to turn professional in track and field (while keeping his football eligibility) and pursuing a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While Allen believes he could be back on the track by May, he also said the recovery could end up being so extended that he misses the next college football season.

“Maybe I don’t play football for the next year or so,” Allen said, “but I definitely want to try and play at the next level.”

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