As most realize by now, the USA Greco schedule for February is pretty packed. There are five events for the Seniors not counting training camp(s) and a substantial contingent of athletes from NMU (and elsewhere) are headed overseas for the Austrian Open, which will actually take place the first weekend of March. The point is, if you are locked into this sport and follow what goes on regularly, February has a lot to offer.
USA Greco-Roman — February 2018
February 3rd — Grand Prix Zagreb Open — Zagreb, Croatia
February 11th — USA vs. Serbia — Boise, Idaho
February 17th-18th — Granma Cup — Havana, Cuba
February 23rd-24th — Thor Masters Invitational — Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
February 24th-25th — US Armed Forces Championships — Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Thor Masters Camp
The international training camp that immediately follows the Thor Masters Invitational in Denmark goes from February 26th to March 7th. It’s the usual prescription. Camps which accompany overseas events are held either the week before or the week after. We discuss the importance of these training opportunities a lot on this platform as the US athletes and coaches like to share their experiences and lessons learned upon their arrivals back home.
But you never really hear from the folks in other countries who help put international training camps together and how it all actually unfolds. Given Thor Masters’ popularity and the US’ good working relationship with Denmark, we felt this was a good opportunity to change that, so we reached out to former Danish Senior competitor Thor Hyllegaard. US fans might be familiar with the name, as it was Hyllegaard who took in Alston Nutter (66 kg, NMU/OTS) and Benji Peak (60 kg, NMU/OTS) when the pair traveled to Denmark over the fall. Hyllegaard also organizes Thor Masters and its camp, and he was kind enough to offer some insights as to its goings-on.
The first order of business to get out of the way involves numbers. According to Hyllegaard, between 140 and 150 wrestlers from 16 nations are converging on Nykøbing Falster for the camp, as the Thor Masters itself is capped at about 120 wrestlers. In other words, the US guys will have a lot of options in terms of foreign partners.
As for what a day at the camp will look like, attendees should expect a high degree of intensity. “A typical day consists of two practices — train, eat, sleep, and repeat,” Hyllegaard says. “For a camp like this, our main focus is a lot of live wrestling to best take advantage of the many different high-level sparring partners. Danish head coach Szymon Kogut will run the practices. It is pretty common that the host nation coach(es) runs the practice. Before he makes the final schedule, he collaborates with the other head coaches.”
Hyllegaard, who is now involved in coaching himself, understands the value wrestlers place on international training camps, specifically those held on a large scale such as this one. There will be plenty of visiting wrestlers from outside of Scandinavia shelling out 65 € (or $80 USD) per day to participate. With over a week to absorb productive, difference-making training in and a wide assortment of athletes, Hyllegaard wants to make sure everyone gets their money’s worth. When asked what he sees as the most important component to the training camp, it was a combination of finances and opportunity he immediately pointed towards.
“To take full advantage of the high level of participants so that everybody gets max value!” Hyllegaard noted. “We think this is key. We have wrestlers and coaches coming in from all over the world who spend a lot of time and resources, so we want to make sure that they get what they came for.”
Finally, perception makes its way into the conversation. So much of the talk surrounding US Greco-Roman athletes going over to international camps is how it is vital for them to increase their exposure to foreigners, to become immersed in the different feels associated with training overseas. Undoubtedly, that is the primary benefit Americans seek out across the Atlantic. But it’s a two-way street. The US guys have something to offer, as well, and it is recognized by others.
“For us Danes, we love having US wrestlers at our competitions and in the training room,” says Hyllegaard. “They have a strong training and competition culture, they never give up. This is something we also want to develop some more of, so it’s great that our guys gets to experience this firsthand.”
87 will be missing a vital piece, but it’s still the nation’s deepest weight class
With the news that Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) will be deploying to Afghanistan sometime in the next month or so, the US is going to be missing a serious contender for the 87 kilogram crown at the 2018 World Team Trials. The multi-time Trials runner-up and six-time National Team member had been on an impressive run after having to patch together his training cycle for the big event last April and looked just as viable at the autumn edition of the Schultz. But duty calls, as they say, and hopefully Anderson will be able to hit the ground running once again when he resumes his career as an athlete. All the best to he and his family in the meantime, as well as to all of our servicemen and women.
But even with Anderson not around, 87 kilos is still projecting to be just as dangerous of a place to be as it was in 2017. All of the placewinners from the Trials will be in the mix — and improved — plus, there should be a couple of other guys entering the fray who determine how all of this shakes out in Tulsa.
(Listed according to placing at 2017 World Team Trials)
Ben Provisor (NLWC, WT member) The two-time Olympian moved out east to State College for a change of scenery, improved financial backing — and although not Greco — a room full of killers.
Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm, ’17 runner-up) Coming back from his second knee surgery in as many years, but is starting to move around more and more. His uber-competitiveness cannot be overstated.
Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP, ’17 4th) Another guy coming back from an injury, but he wasn’t out that long and the tournament he put together last spring was his best yet.
Patrick Martinez (NYAC, ’17 5th) A summer spent sizing up and working on technique resulted in two consecutive overseas tournament wins to close out the year.
Khymba Johnson (NYAC/OTS, ’17 7th) Was having himself a fine Schultz before Anderson got to him; his day also included a victory over the man below in surprisingly dominant fashion.
Kevin Radford (Sunkist, ’17 6th) The reigning US National champ still possesses immense overall talent and should eventually turn the corner. Cuba will matter.
Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm, ’17 4th at 80 kg) The U23 World Teamer looks even better at 87 than anyone could have hoped and very easily could be in the argument at the Open.
Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm, ’17 5th at 80 kg) Like teammate and U23 Trials finals opponent Stanghill, Carlson is up a weight (seemingly) and presents too many problems for the others to mention.
Ryan Hope (Cliff Keen) Was starting to hit his prime when a knee injury sidelined him for almost a year. Too experienced and analytical not to come back stronger than ever.
There are others, too. Easton Hargrave (CWC), Jeff Palmeri (NYAC), and Vaughan Monreal-Berner (Marines) might not have the seasoning the guys above do, but they also won’t be lacing them up at the US Open to merely take up bracket space. So just in case you were worried, 87 is still going to be overwhelmingly stacked from top to bottom. Should be fun.
WRESTLERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Your weekly dose of inspiring words, knuckleheaded antics, or thought-provoking questions from your favorite US Greco-Roman athletes and coaches.
Yep, we talked about this.
I am proud to announce that I have committed to further my academic & athletic career at Northern Michigan University. I’ll also be transferring and moving to Marquette, MI for my senior year where I will finish high school and will wrestle for the Olympic Training Site. #GoGreco pic.twitter.com/usFzHLu7vo
— Delon Kanari (@DelonKanari) January 27, 2018
Okay, makes sense?
If you’re gonna be dumb yah gotta be tough
— Dalton Roberts (@DRoberts59kg) January 26, 2018
Hancock with his weekly appearance on this list.
Great photo, good caption.
The headband game is strong, too.
It seems many retire too early, that’s for sure.
“Wrestle as long as you can, as long as you love it beause you can learn so much those last few years and you can have a lot of fun.” —Brandon Paulson
— The Quoter (@WrestlingQuoter) January 29, 2018
Should have made the list previously, including it now.
Not from the US, and definitely not correct.
These shall always be celebrated.
Good ole Daytona! https://t.co/ypvy6aMIZi
— Andrew Bisek (@Biseks_Stache) January 26, 2018
Couture and actor Chris Pratt, whatever, whyever.
A couple weeks ago I had the great privilege of training with UFC Hall of Famer Randy “the Natural” Couture @xcnatch at #unbreakable in Hollywood. Luckily he took it very easy on me. Randy first coached me when I was 17 at Oregon State University wrestling camp. After a greco roman training session consisting of throws he invited teenage me to come up and demonstrate the three throws we’d learned that day: the underarm spin, lateral drop and head and arm. It was such an honor. Everyone cheered as I slammed Coach Couture to his back. Not once, not twice… but three times. A few years later I was one of millions watching on TV as Randy entered The Octagon for the first time and dominated, eventually winning and defending the heavyweight title for years. He is a Pacific Northwest native and all around great dude. Gotta love the wrestlers mentality and work ethic. It’s a great sport which helped keep me out of trouble when I was younger and taught me to grind. I’ve always said it, wrestling made me who I am today. I dedicated years of my life to grappling. I still love it. Take your sons and daughters to a wrestling practice! It’s important our kids have adults to look up to outside of their parents. Here’s a shout out to all the coaches out there making a difference. Big thanks to Randy! #unbreakable #UFC #RandyTheNaturalCouture