It is slightly over two months later and getting Brady Koontz‘s (55 kg, tOSU-UA) performance from the Junior World Team Trials out of your head is likely not very easy to do. No, Koontz wasn’t the overall most dominant in Indianapolis — that distinction belonged to Alston Nutter (63 kg, NMU/OTS), who only had two finals matches to work with and still managed to drop some jaws. Rather, it was Koontz’s combined body of work at the Junior Trials deserving of a head nod.
He began his morning by avenging a Fargo finals loss to Rayvon Foley (MSU), tech’ed 2017 Trials champ Elijah Varona (Garage Boyz), and then managed to come up with a fall over another talented upstart in MWC’s Joey Harrison. Koontz put the finishing touches on his outstanding tournament by earning two of the biggest wins of his Greco career thus far. Facing 2017 Junior World silver medalist Cevion Severado (NYAC), the Wisconsin athlete plowed to a 15-5 Match 1 tech fall before wrapping it all up in Match 2 on the strength of gritty 3-3 criteria decision.
Again, it’s not that Koontz won (he was also a Cadet World Teamer in ’15, lest anyone forget), but what he looked like doing so. Adopting a bent-knees-hips-in-posture-up Greco stance thanks to he and his twin brother Dylan’s time working with USA Greco legend Dennis Hall, Koontz was able to remain in solid position in each of his matches at the Trials. He gave off the appearance of a grizzled, savvy “Greco guy” and found opportunities to attack in situations often neglected at the developmental level. A proper stance is pretty doggone important in this sport, and positively required for someone with designs on earning a World medal, regardless of age group.
It also doesn’t hurt that as a competitor, Koontz brings an aggressive, steady-engine approach. If he doesn’t score, he is willing to just try and break you down into a fatigued, withering mess. This is the mindset that allowed him to excel in high school, as well as the reason why he now finds himself in position to eventually fight for a spot in Ohio State University’s starting lineup. Koontz, no matter which style we’re talking about, doesn’t seem very keen on taking any prisoners when he’s on the mat.
This week, Koontz, along with the rest of his Junior World teammates, is in Las Vegas for their first official training camp. After they get done at the South Point Hotel, the group will then converge on Colorado Springs and its Olympic Training Center for a more prolonged series of training sessions. Once that’s through, the focus for everyone will zero in on the Junior World Championships set to begin on September 17th in Trnava, Slovakia.
Brady Koontz — 55 kg, tOSU/UA
5PM: What clicked for you between the Junior Nationals and the Trials a month and change later?
Brady Koontz: From between Vegas and Indianapolis, just working with Dennis (Hall) and focusing on my core position and staying in my low stance, because then it’s really hard to move me. And staying aggressive so that they are always on defense and can’t really attack. Training-wise before the Trials, I was just focusing on using their momentum where they were already going so that I could attack. If I was attacking and they would block, I would attack that so I could score. My brother and I, leading up to the Trials, we didn’t even wrestle live. I think the week leading up we wrestled no live, we just drilled and chain-wrestled from reactions on the feet.
5PM: Your stance is among the best in this country right now. Especially considering your background, your frame, and the fact you’re currently enrolled at one of the best NCAA programs in the US, do you feel comfortable working from that kind of lowered stance and able to get to your entire offensive arsenal?
BK: Yes, definitely. The reason why I feel a lot kids don’t do much Greco is because they see that it is wrestling these higher stances with the one shoulder leaning, and then they try that and feel super uncomfortable. They don’t like it. But when you get in that low stance and are square, and you’re driving your feet into the mat, your opponent can’t move you. They’re not lower than you, and you can just push them all over the mat if they try something. Your whole body is just locked tight and they can’t do anything. You can score off of anything they try.
5PM: You dropped a match to Severado in April and then wrestled him again at the Trials. He had an amazing run in Finland last year and he actually looked improved in certain areas this year. Knowing that to stamp down your spot you had to beat a World silver, does that do a lot for you in terms of your confidence?
BK: Yeah, definitely. If I can beat him and he took silver last year, then I can take gold this year. Going to the Worlds, I just have to train hard, and then once I get there, wrestle my match, dictate the pace, and make them react to me.
5PM: Coming out of a collegiate folkstyle season, was this a switch that was easy to make? Wrestling might be wrestling, but there are definitely differences involved. Did you switch back over effortlessly? Or did it take a few weeks to re-assimilate?
Brady Koontz: I think it took a little bit of time, maybe just a couple of practices because my style is the same. The only thing that really changes is my stance. But I’m still trying to dictate the pace and be aggressive the whole match.
5PM: How have you been spending this interim between the Trials and now these official World Team camps doing your own training?
BK: Basically just spending time at home and training with Dennis as much as possible. The best thing you can do is train with somebody who has already been there and done that, and I think Dennis is the best coach in the country for Greco. He has been through all that I have been through. He knows what to expect.
5PM: Your brother Dylan is obviously an excellent competitor and I think most of us saw that either one of you were capable of doing this. How much does it help having a built-in workout partner who is awesome, and is also someone who understands what this level of competition is all about? I imagine that has to be a significant advantage.
BK: It is. A lot of guys struggle to find good partners, and some kids I know who are really dedicated will drive hours to get a good partner. But having someone like that who lives with you all the time and practices with you all the time makes it a lot easier, a lot more convenient. You can practice together a lot more frequently. It overall makes us both better.
5PM: About two weeks ago you had Dalton Roberts for a couple days out in Wisconsin. Did you work with him at all, and if so, did you pick up anything from him that you can use?
BK: Yeah, we worked with him twice a day the weekend he was here. I think the biggest thing I picked up from him, I know it’s Greco, but he uses his legs a lot on the feet. Not illegally, but he uses them, for say, an inside hip toss or to get the other guy off balance. I never wrestled with a guy like that before in Greco who uses his legs that much. It was weird for me.
5PM: You have camp in Vegas and then camp at the OTC. This is going to bang-bang-bang from here on out and next thing you know you’ll be leaving for Slovakia. How are you viewing this important part of the training phase? Are there specific things you want to work on, and also, have you done any scouting of what 55 looks like at the Junior level internationally?
Brady Koontz: I haven’t done much scouting. It has been more thinking about what I need to do, and then no matter what they do, wrestle my match and dictate the pace and get them to react. But going into the camp, it is basically knowing that I am going to train hard and that there are going to be really good partners there. I’m just thinking about what I need to work on. I think I need to get better at a straight lift. My go-to on top is my gut, but if I can’t get that I feel like it is going to be really hard to turn the other guy, so I feel that I need to widen my arsenal on top.