USA Greco

Junior WT Members In Finland Answer Some Questions

engel with 2019 junior world greco-roman team in finland
Photo: Nate Engel

Last week, 2019 Junior World Team coach Nate Engel provided personal insights and individual overviews of each athlete’s performance from Finland’s Kuortane Duals that saw four World Teamers plus sizzling prospect Tommy Dantzler (82 kg, Front Range Twisters/OTC) participate.

The gathering a week ago in Scandinavia was a big deal. Age-group World Team members usually don’t find themselves overseas prior to their respective World events, but it had been a priority of Engel’s to make that happen this year. Just as important is the timing: with the Juniors set for one more joint training experience before heading over to Estonia in what is now just a few weeks, the fact a few of them were able to freshen up on the so-called “foreign feel” could very well pay dividends once the festivities finally arrive.

In effort to raise more awareness pertaining to the Junior Team — and to illustrate for the audience the benefits his fearsome fivesome have gleaned from traveling abroad — Engel has taken it a step further. On his own accord, Engel decided to conduct brief Q&A’s with the athletes on their last day in Finland so that all who read their words come away with a more complete understanding of their task at hand.

Dylan Ragusin (55 kg, Izzy Style)

5PM: What has been the most important thing you’ve gained from this pre-World trip that you will be able to carry with you onto the mat next month?

Ragusin: Wrestling is a raw sport, it’s a battle between two men who try to take each other’s wills, and at the end of the day, winners try to find a way to win. This trip made me realize what a universal sport wrestling is and that just because we don’t speak the same language, we can come train together to achieve the same things.

5PM: Has there been anything about this tour that has surprised you?

Ragusin: No, not really, when you are prepared you don’t get surprised by too many things. I really feel like my preparation for Worlds has been going according to plan, and this is just another stepping stone in the right direction. Getting a feel for these foreigners is important, necessary, to find success at the highest levels of wrestling.

5PM: How long did it take/and does it take to get used to the different feel foreigners have to offer?

Ragusin: At the end of the day, wrestling is wrestling, and even though they have different feels, everyone you ever wrestle will have a different feel. It’s all about imposing your will and breaking these dudes so that their feel, technique, and experience don’t come into play when they are dog ass tired.

5PM: Timing usually plays a role in these training camps. Do you feel the timing of this trip syncs up well with the remainder of the training block before leaving for Estonia?

Ragusin: Yeah, of course, I always train very hard for any tournament and it’s easy to find the motivation to get up every morning and give 100% effort when in a month you could be the best wrestler in the world. If someone can’t find motivation in that, then you are delirious. I don’t have to worry about being sore or tired or worn down because I train this hard all the time, and when you do something day in and day out, it becomes as easy as brushing your teeth in the morning. It just happens, it’s there.

Tyler Eischens (72 kg, CARTC)

5PM: What has been the most important thing you’ve gained from this pre-World trip that you will be able to carry with you onto the mat next month?

Eischens: I would say getting a sense for how the international wrestlers feel because this is my first time wrestling people outside of the United States. Also, being able to identify the areas that I need to work on and being able to improve on those areas has been big.

5PM: Has there been anything about this tour that has surprised you?

Eischens: The way that people are content on scoring 1-2 points and not scoring anymore over here; also getting scored on like a four-point move and they just give up, whereas in the United States it’s still a winnable match.

5PM: How long did it take/and does it take to get used to the different feel foreigners have to offer?

Eischens:  I don’t think it took too long to get the feel for a foreigner down. After my six matches I feel like I have it down. Obviously, every wrestler is different, but each of them I felt would score and then sit back. So, I need to get after it when the whistle blows, and not wait for them to come to me.

5PM: Timing usually plays a role in these training camps. Do you feel the timing of this trip syncs up well with the remainder of the training block before leaving for Estonia?

Eischens: I think it was a really good spot, it’s not too far out that you will lose what you learned here — but also not super close that it will burn you out before you compete. I got to see for the first time the way they compete before heading over to Estonia. I think it was good to see that and be ready each match in Estonia.

Jack Ervien (77 kg, Takedown Express)

5PM: What has been the most important thing you’ve gained from this pre-World trip that you will be able to carry with you onto the mat next month?

Ervien: Wrestling the different styles, the styles international wrestlers have. Also feeling the different techniques and attempts they use while wrestling. I also felt the fight that they bring to the matches. I will be able to use this experience to impact my chances at the World Championships.

5PM: Has there been anything about this tour that has surprised you?

Ervien: The different techniques that I am able to use in America do not work as well against the foreigners. I really have to focus on setting up my attacks and being diligent about pummeling hard and working to get to my attacks to score. They are all really good in par terre, so I need to work on that from now until I step out on the mat in Tallinn.

5PM: How long did it take/and does it take to get used to the different feel foreigners have to offer?

Ervien: When we started at the tournament, the first few matches did not go super well, but as I started to feel out their styles, I was able to execute my attacks and gain a few wins. Throughout the camp, I have been improving on my attacks, and I feel more confident than ever.

5PM: Timing usually plays a role in these training camps. Do you feel the timing of this trip syncs up well with the remainder of the training block before leaving for Estonia?

Ervien: Yeah, I think the training camp was perfect for me, I was training at Campbell and got to go home and take a little break before leaving for Finland. Now we are back on the grind to train for a World medal. I am excited to get better in Colorado Springs, and then represent the United States at the Junior World Championships.

Zac Braunagel (82 kg, IRTC)

5PM: What has been the most important thing you’ve gained from this pre-World trip that you will be able to carry with you onto the mat next month?

Braunagel: The most important thing I have learned on this trip is that I need to work on my par terre defense. Most of the guys I have been wrestling with here have been lifters, reverse or straight; where in the States they only try to gut you. In the States, I have only been lifted once in a match. Whereas here I have been lifted three times during three matches.

5PM: Has there been anything about this tour that has surprised you?

Braunagel: Everybody over here speaks the language, so that was very surprising because on my last trip overseas we could not talk to anyone. I was also shocked by the different styles of wrestling over here than in the States. Over here, they stay in such good position and try to score a few times and then hold onto the lead. In the US, people try to keep scoring. It’s tougher over here to get to my offense if I can’t open a guy, so I have been working on that.

5PM: How long did it take/and does it take to get used to the different feel foreigners have to offer?

Braunagel: It didn’t take as long as I thought, because at the end of the camp the opponents I have been wrestling at camp and it showed me exactly what I need to work on to get to Worlds. It didn’t take that long; it is just a matter of where I need get to in order to become a World champ. The foreigners wrestle the same way I feel like; they all try to lift, they all stay in good position — so it’s not to change back and forth and get to my attacks.

5PM: Timing usually plays a role in these training camps. Do you feel the timing of this trip syncs up well with the remainder of the training block before leaving for Estonia?

Braunagel: I think this was perfect timing before Worlds so we can see what we need to prepare for. It’s also good because we have enough time to get home and get with our coaches to work on what it is going to take to win one match at a time at the World Championships.

Tommy Dantzler (82 kg, Front Range Twisters/OTC)

5PM: You had been overseas before this tour of Finland. What have you found to be the most important thing you pick up from coming over here?

Dantzler: The most important thing I have learned was to stay positive and keep my head up, not to be negative and hard on myself. I need to learn from my mistakes and just get better daily.

5PM: Has there been anything about this tour that has surprised you?

Dantzler: I think learning to train on my own without my coaches that I am used to back in the states. Also, without my dad and maturing on my own as an athlete and an adult.

5PM: How long did it take/and does it take to get used to the different feel foreigners have to offer?

Dantzler: It took a couple of days, but once I got used to it, I was able to adapt and overcome their wrestling. Really just for me it was just getting use to the feel and seeing how long they can last and how tough they are.

5PM: Does this trip set you up for the next season, especially since this is a time of the year when there typically aren’t a lot of solid opportunities?

Dantzler: I think it does. If I wasn’t here, I would have been back in the States, so it’s good to get out of my comfort zone and then come back to the OTC (Olympic Training Center) and get ready for what’s next. It’s always good to get out and get a change of scenery.

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