Going on right now over in Zagreb, Croatia is an international training camp for age-group Greco-Roman wrestlers. The camp comes on the heels of the 2017 Croatia Open which took place just this past weekend. There, two American Cadets came away with medals — surging prospect Cohlton Schultz (100 kg, NYAC/CO), who at only 16 years old is already a two-time Cadet World Team member and a Junior World Team member this year; and Camden Russell (54 kg, MWC/NE), an under-the-radar athlete compared to Schultz but carries perhaps just as much potential. Schultz won the event in dominant fashion, a seeming custom as of late for the teenager. Russell fought hard for gold himself but ultimately settled for silver.
The US Cadet Greco-Roman wrestlers in Croatia on this tour are part of the maiden voyage for the newly-instituted “Go Greco USA Developmental Program.” Conceived by Combat Wrestling Club founder and 2017 Cadet World Team coach Lucas Steldt, the program aims to provide increased opportunities for this country’s most devoted Greco-Roman youngsters to train and compete overseas. This has long been a need for American competitors. With most of the world practicing both international styles of wrestling exclusively, US wrestlers are often behind the curve when it comes time for the bigger tournaments. One of the surefire ways to narrow the gap for the future generations entering the sport is to allow for more foreign exposure, and that’s exactly what Steldt envisions.
“I am trying to create something people can go to and say, This is something we have to do,” said Steldt. “Maybe there is a competition in Norway, maybe there is a competition in Croatia, and we can say, We’ll help you get there and here is a coach who can take you. I think that is how we develop, when there is a central location where you can go to get information, find out how to make arrangements, how to get UWW cards, all of that stuff, even if we’re not directly involved with that tour.”
Following the camp currently taking place in Croatia, the Go Greco USA delegation will next head to Serbia for the Refik Memišević–Brale Tournament on Saturday. So as to bring everyone up to speed, we thought it might be a good idea to ask Steldt for further insights on the roster and what he’s noticed about this crop of athletes so far.
2017 Go Greco USA Developmental Program Roster — June 2017
38 kg-42 kg
Nathan Rubino (MWC/Nebraska) — “Nate is our small guy at 42 kilos. A great kid, always smiling, and is here to grow in Greco. He also works hard and is very coachable.”
Conor Knopick (MWC/Nebraska) — “Conor has the athleticism and idea of Greco. This tour is definitely what he needs along with the rest (of the team). But he holds position well and is even-keeled.”
Camden Russell (MWC/Nebraska) — ““Russell could be a great Greco competitor if he continues down this road. He’s just an incredible wrestler and (fellow 2017 Cadet World Team coach) Zac Dominguez has these awesome athletes in Nebraska. Russell needs to be on a watch-list for both Gary (Mayabb) and Matt (Lindland).”
Raiden Johnson (SWAT/Florida) — “Raiden is a quiet kid but he is here for the right reasons. It’s great he’s here and focused on training.”
Austin Almaguer (Tri-Cities Club/Washington) — “This kid is a sleeper. I’m not sure if even he knows his available potential. I hope he opens up more in Serbia, Austin was very close to a medal here in Croatia.”
Dominic Damon (Tri-Cities Club/Washington) — “Dominic has a great physical anatomical body for Greco Roman in my opinion. He showed some really nice Greco-specific technical skills at the Croatia competition. His Serbia showing will be better with a week of training and acclimation.”
Frankie Tal-Sharer (SWAT/Florida) — “Shawn Sheldon’s star athlete really has it all. Shawn has done a great job with the developmental process with this athlete. He’s definitely going to be someone’s problem on the mat.”
Cayden Robson (Combat WC/Wisconsin) — “He was at 69 kilos in Croatia. He’s going 63 kilograms in Serbia after realizing the power of these foreign athletes. He’s dangerous, but needs these competitions and training camps to take that step to the next level.”
Damion Smith (Combat WC/Wisconsin) — “Damion is a developmental athlete. He is young, but he understands there’s a method to the training and plan. He’s also not even a high school athlete yet and he’s already making the right choices to get better.”
Bryson Alsteen (Combat WC/Wisconsin) — “Is on the cusp of getting on the podium. Bryson has all the athletic tools — it’s just confidence that this tour needs to provide for more growth.”
85 kg-100 kg
Chase Thompson (SWAT-Florida) — “Chase just here to train and prepare himself for the future since he is a Schoolboy-age class athlete and is too young to compete. But he can train and improve his Greco. That is why we are here. Medals are nice, but Senior World medals are nicer.”
Cohlton Schultz (COTC/Colorado) — “Cohlton is becoming a true Greco guy. He put on a very dominating performance and along with his athletic abilities, he is also showing true leadership.”