It’s true: if the Tokyo Olympics were never postponed for an entire year — and the handful of age-group World Team Trials originally scheduled for this past spring weren’t put back on the shelf for a later date — the recent string of Senior camps would not be receiving the same brand of attention.
There would be coverage, because, of course. Any time a collection of top athletes converge on one location, it gets talked about. But after one or two mentions, material would be capped with whatever is next on the agenda taking over as the primary focus.
That is not the story for the Senior camp going on at MWC in Nebraska this week, however. It has become too big of a deal. It would get “Greco mainstream” attention even if things were “normal”.
After the Senior camp at Suples in Boise wrapped earlier this month several names attached to the goings-on in Nebraska had already been announced:
Sammy Jones (60 kg, NYAC/NTS) — US National Team; 2014 University World bronze
Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) — US National Team; ’17 Junior World Champion; 4X National Champion
RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC) — US National Team; ’18 World Team ; 2X National Champion; ’16 Olympic Trials Champion
Ben Provisor (77 kg, NYAC) — US National Team; 2X Olympian; 3X National Champion
Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC/FLWC) — US National Team; 3X World Team
Joe Rau (87 kg, TMWC/IRTC, world #7) — US National Team; 2X World Team; Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier gold
Alan Vera (87 kg, NYAC) — ’16 Pan-Am Championships gold; multi-time Granma Cup gold
G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #8) — US National Team; 3X World Team; ’16 Junior World bronze
Then more athletes were confirmed:
Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Sunkist/UVRTC) — US National Team; 6X age-group World Team; ’16 Junior World bronze
Dylan Gregerson (67 kg, UVRTC) — ’19 U23 World Team Trials runner-up; ’18 Junior Pan-Am Championships gold
Jesse Porter (77 kg, NYAC/NTS) — 3X U23 World Team; ’16 Nationals runner-up
Fast-forward seven days hence, and MWC has six additional athletes joining the party:
Hunter Lewis (60 kg, WI) — ’18 Cadet World Team; ’19 Junior Trials runner-up
Corbin Nirschl (60 kg, UA)
Morgan Flaharty (67 kg, NYAC)
Austin Morrow (67 kg, NYAC/NTS) — ’16 University National Champion
Kendrick Sanders (77 kg, NYAC/NTS) — 2X US National Champion
Marcus Finau (87 kg, NYAC) — ’13 World Team Trials runner-up; 2X Junior World Team
Rau — who got married over the weekend — will actually not be heading to Nebraska later today. But even without him in the lineup, attendance among top Seniors is more than substantial. Count them all up and what you have are 16 wrestlers (over a third of whom are currently on the US National Team), 12 combined Senior Open titles, and 10 World Team appearances. It should be noted that MWC head coach Zac Dominguez is also planning on involving several of his more well-known charges, such as ’19 Fargo champ Camden Russell (60 kg) and ’19 Cadet World Team member Conor Knopick (60 kg).
Who’s missing is easy for which to account — athletes from both Army/WCAP and the All-Marine Team. The two powerhouse programs are beholden to orders from the Department of Defense and thus far still not permitted to participate in organized training (with contact). Last year, Army and Marine athletes were responsible for a combined six spots on the World Team (and 12 on the National Team).
Items of Potential Interest
What will transpire at MWC beginning on Thursday is a joint training camp, not a competitive endeavor. Although a portion of the Seniors who will be in attendance have been able to train more regularly as of late, that is certainly not unanimous, especially for those from states observing stricter guidelines. Therefore, it is a safe bet that for however intense live situations might become, ultimately, participants will be glad just to be on a mat.
But when you glance up and down at the roster (divided in three chronological sections with regards to declared involvement), you may notice that two weight classes stand out the most: 60 and 87 kilos.
Martinez, Vera, and Finau comprise the group at 87. Over the course of the quad, Martinez has been one of the US program’s most consistent all-around performers, and Finau’s return to Senior competition down at 87 has had no choice but to offer immediate intrigue. That said, the one name caught in everyone’s mouth will be Vera’s. A former representative for Cuba, Vera first became eligible to compete with “USA” on the back of his singlet two seasons ago — but not in World/Olympic events. That could change early next month (in other words, less than a week). If, when, Vera is officially recognized as an American competitor, he will be considered a very legitimate candidate to emerge out of the Last Chance Qualifier — and beyond.
In case the breadcrumbs aren’t obvious enough, another look at 87’s viability in the US will be coming up here quite soon.
60 kilograms is set as the most stacked camp weight category, something that is likely to put a smile on LaMont’s face. He had been fortunate enough to continue training with Gregerson during lockdown but it was just the two of them. Listed for Nebraska at 60 kilos are four athletes — plus the MWC duo of Russell and Knopick. LaMont specifically brought up working with Jones as a main incentive due to the latter’s par terre ability from top; and with a group that also includes Lewis and Nirschl, all of the 60-kg attendees this week couldn’t be in a much better position given the current circumstances.
We will have updates, insights, and general coverage of the MWC camp throughout the week.