As has been the case the last few years, athletes from Northern Michigan University’s Olympic Training Site kicked off their season at Panama’s annual Eduardo Campbell Cup on Saturday. And as has been the case the last few years, most of those involved brought back some hardware. Austin Morrow (66 kg, NYAC/OTS) returned to action following a summer crammed with painstaking physical therapy on his shoulder(s) to win his third Campbell Cup gold medal. Right there with him was Khymba Johnson (NYAC/OTS), who took the top spot at 85 kilograms. Johnson’s weight class was a question mark going into this weekend, primarily because he made a detour up to 98 for the University Nationals back in June. 85 kilos becoming 87 at the Schultz and then from 2018 onward may mean Johnson sticks around that neighborhood if the two extra kilos prove enticing enough to do so.
Corey Fitzgerald (75 kg, NMU/OTS) earned his second straight silver at the Eduardo Campbell Cup, winning three matches and losing two in his round-robin pool. Both of Fitzgerald’s losses came at the hands of 2015 Pan Am Games silver medalist Alvis Almendra (PAN). Almendra is a tough competitor who has some recent traceability to US wrestlers. Two-time World bronze medalist and current NMU assistant coach Andy Bisek defeated Almendra on a few occasions, including in the finals of the ’15 Pan Ams. Kamal Bey (75 kg, Sunkist, world no. 18) also tangled with Almendra, at the 2016 Dave Schultz Memorial, coming away the victor via fall. Chris Rodgers (66 kg, NMU/OTS) and George Sikes (85 kg, NMU/OTS) checked in with bronzes for their first international Greco-Roman medals.
Inside the numbers
- NMU wrestlers scored a combined 112 points on Saturday (not counting points scored before falls were recorded). Morrow was responsible for 44 of them.
- Winning medals is great, but it’s the number of matches why head coach Rob Hermann brings his guys to Panama each year. No wrestler had fewer than three matches and the average number of bouts among the seven wrestlers came in at just under 4.3.
- OTS wrestlers picked up 18 total wins on Saturday with 11 arriving via technical fall, though six of those matches pitted OTS teammates against one other. Of the 11 tech’s, eight were of the 8-0 shutout variety.
U23 World Team Trials
The first-ever US U23 World Team Trials begin this weekend in Rochester, Minnesota. The country has plenty of top prospects eligible for competition in just about every weight class, but some names might stand out more than others. At 59 kilos, NYAC-OTS wrestlers Dalton Roberts and Randon Miranda are set to go, as is newly-minted Olympic Training Center resident athlete Luis Hernandez. Alex Sancho (NYAC/OTS) figures to be the top dog at 66 kilograms, but there may be other contenders at that weight to pay attention to, as well, like former University World Team member Sahid Kargbo (Patriot Elite). Kargbo and Sancho have met before, most recently in the quarters of April’s World Team Trials where Kargbo raced out in front before Sancho emerged on the strength of a couple nice throws.
Two of the most talented Greco-Roman wrestlers at the event will be Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC) and Jesse Porter (NYAC/OTS), and both are registered at 75 kilograms. Chavez defeated Porter in the consolation semis at the Trials in an entertaining bout. Chavez took second to Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets) at the University Nationals and then made the trip over to Georgia for the Tbilisi Grand Prix. He wrestled well there, winning his first bout before getting jiffed by the officials in a dodgy 2-1 loss to Nikolizi Kelasov (GEO).
2017 Junior World Champion Kamal Bey (Sunkist, world no. 18) will apparently be up at 80 kilograms for the U23 World Team Trials. 2016 Fargo Junior National champ Tommy Brackett (TN) is also registered at 80. 85 kilograms could be a bracket fans will likely want to hone in on, with Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm), 2017 Junior World Team member Wyatt Koelling (MWF), and 2015 Pan Am Championships silver medalist Gabe Dean (NYRTC) strutting in as the headliners.
You get the picture. The U23 Trial tournament offers a lot to look forward to and no matter who prevails at each weight, the US should have a very strong team heading into the World Championships later next month in Poland. We will have more on this event as the week progresses.
Support USA Greco-Roman if you can
From now on, readers will be able to find a link to donate directly to the United States Greco-Roman program included in each “Coach Lindland’s Report” and at the bottom of all articles under the “USA Greco” category. 100% of all donations go directly to support the Greco program — there is no in-between. Whatever you choose to give goes straight to where it is needed.
Funding plays an enormous role in the success of the athletes. It is what provides them with the opportunities and resources to travel, compete, and train. Greco-Roman in the United States does not receive the funding or bevy of sponsorship dollars the other styles do. That probably isn’t a secret. Even without all the perks, the program has begun to once again blossom thanks in large part to the National coaches, the countless volunteer coaches, and of course, the wrestlers who devote their livelihoods to becoming World Champions. So if you’d like to throw some dollars their way, fantastic. No matter how much or how little, it will all make a difference.
What’s Coming Up Here
- A featured perspective piece with multi-time World Team member and Marine Corps officer Bryce Saddoris is on the horizon. Saddoris represented the country with integrity and class before he stepped away from competition following the 2016 Olympic Trials, and his life off the mat has a direct correlation with what he accomplished on it. His is a story certainly worth telling.
- Our U23 previews, which will be consolidated for easier viewing.
- News on an event that is coming from practically out of nowhere.