Panama’s Eduardo Campbell Cup is next weekend and it is where several wrestlers from Marquette’s Olympic Training Site will be cracking their seasons open.
Seven athletes, including two-time Campbell Cup champ Austin Morrow (66 kg) and 2016 Senior Nationals runner-up Khymba Johnson (98 kg), are heading over for the one-day event, which has traditionally served as the ribbon-cut for the new year. It also comes a little over a month before the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs kicks off the season in full for many full-time US Senior competitors. In addition to Morrow and Johnson, there are five other Northern Michigan wrestlers going, and (nearly) all of them will be entering the first-ever U23 World Team Trials the very next week in Chicago.
The Campbell Cup will mark the first time back on a competitive mat for all of the US athletes, but there is extra intrigue pertaining to both Morrow and Johnson. Morrow, who turns 24 later on in October, was on a roll in 2016 before his right shoulder separated at the World Wrestling Clubs Cup in December. He spent the next four months rehabbing and then returned at the Senior World Team Trials with a 1-1 performance and eventually bowed out due to the area becoming aggravated. Morrow came back again in June for the University Nationals when following that tournament, it was discovered that his left shoulder had suffered a separation, as well. The summer months came and went, and in between, Morrow rehabbed some more and then ran a marathon. He’s now getting closer and closer to full capacity and looking forward to seeing how things shake out after an arduous 2016-17 campaign.
“This is a mental test to see if my shoulder is ready,” Morrow said this week. “I just want to get a competition under my belt before the Dave Schultz and before I go overseas. I want to gain the confidence I need with five or six matches. Panama is really just a test for me to see where I’m at physically.”
Johnson, 24, began making a name for himself on the Senior circuit a few years ago and scored the biggest win of his career thus far in the semifinals of the 2016 US Open with a close decision over two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (85 kg, NYAC). He eventually fell to Kevin Radford (85 kg, Sunkist) in the finals, and then went on to snag a bronze at the Schultz where his only loss of the day came at the hands of Radford yet again. A seventh-place finish at the World Team Trials wasn’t what he was hoping for, but he got back out there for the University Nationals in early June. There, Johnson went up to 98 kilograms and despite coming in sixth, looked every bit the part and competed well. It is not known for sure if 98 kilos is his home going forward, but that is where it is presumed he will be at the Campbell Cup.
2017 Eduardo Campbell Cup
Santiago de Veraguas, Panama — September 30
Aaron Kliamovich (NMU/OTS)
Austin Morrow (NYAC/OTS)
Chris Rodgers (NMU/OTS)
Colby Baker (NMU/OTS)
Corey Fitzgerald (NMU/OTS)
George Sikes (NMU/OTS)
Khymba Johnson (NYAC/OTS)