Experienced Cadet and Junior Greco-Roman wrestlers looking to get a head start on their summer seasons have a unique opportunity to do just that next week under the direction of the US National Team.
The first-ever USA Wrestling National Greco-Roman Workshop will take place prior to sessions I and III of the 2018 NCAA Division I Championships at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio, site of the tournament’s Fan Fest. Conceived by US Greco-Roman Operations Manager Gary Mayabb, this latest developmental endeavor is intended for athletes who are both comfortable and familiar with the intricacies of the classical style. And if these wrestlers just so happen to be in town to check out the biggest college tournament of the year, then all the better.
“We’re looking at multiple pathways trying to bring more athletes into Greco and the NCAA Championships tend to be a magnet across our country,” Mayabb explains. “It’s a great time because wrestlers are coming out of folkstyle and moving into the international styles as the spring and summer come into view.”
As Mayabb mentioned, timing is of the essence. High school state tournaments are wrapped up and the US is about to hit that phase of the year when age-group competitors will be practicing throws again. Part of Mayabb’s vision for youth development involves expounding on what athletes have been working on throughout their scholastic seasons and morphing those techniques into useful Greco-Roman attacks. But in order for his plan to work, he feels opportunities like the National Greco-Roman Workshop are necessary for motivated wrestlers and coaches because they can provide an important leg-up before the action really heats up.
“We want to use this as a possible kickoff point and next year we want to expand it,” says Mayabb. “Andy (Bisek) did a nice clinic for athletes up at Michigan State this year for the Big Ten’s. We want to keep that one going and then add to it. This past weekend I was at the NAIA’s talking to and recruiting athletes. This coming weekend I will be at the NCAA Division II tournament doing the same thing, and next year I hope to run a full clinic there, as well. We want to expand this time as we’re coming out of folkstyle, take the very best wrestlers we can possibly get our hands on, and work with them to find where we’re headed that year.”
While Greco-Roman in the United States is always focused on inclusiveness, the National Greco-Roman Workshop is not for just anyone who wants to go. Only Cadet and Junior age-group wrestlers are being brought into the fold for 2018, and that is primarily because of the clinic’s structure. The techniques that will be shown are coming down from the National Team and high reps will be a major focus of the curriculum (as many as 100 per session). In other words, this is not a traditional seminar environment where wrestlers are expected to sit in a circle and be introduced to a variety of starting positions. If you’re going, a firm grasp of Greco-Roman fundamentals is vital just so you don’t wind up being left behind. The way Mayabb lays it out, understanding the vernacular runs just as much in concert with the workshop’s objective as the physical work itself.
“This is an accelerator, not a sit-down clinic type of situation,” he briskly points out. “Instead, it is Come in, put the shoes on, and let’s go. That’s why it isn’t geared towards beginners. It is geared towards age-group athletes who have been wrestling Greco for a while. Then one of our main goals as we start down this road to create an American Greco system is to try and make sure we’re all speaking the same language. It is about trying to get all of us on the same page, or as close to the same page as we can get.
“We want to look at lead management skills and boundary skills, what we call red ring offense,” continues Mayabb. “You get in that zone, what’s going to happen now? What is the smartest decision to make? What are some of the things we do if we’re close to a lift and the lift goes bad? Those kinds of issues are what we want to talk about and also offer tons of reps on some of the skill-sets we’re sure they know.”
Of course, one of the attractions for attendees will likely be the environment. Wrestlers are going to take to the mats just as a huge national event is about to unfold. But that also plays into the workshop’s scheduling, at least in a roundabout way. Mayabb was only able to grab mat space for Thursday and Friday morning even though he would have preferred to run both clinic sessions on Thursday (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). A single-day workshop could be in the cards for 2019, but for this first go-round, participants will have the chance to take in a full day of NCAA tournament action in between. So it’s not such a bad deal — especially considering the material being presented.
“Our real key is not to get caught up in anything that looks like a show-and-tell,” notes Mayabb. “It is going to be very structured and based on their reps. This is the plan Coach (Matt) Lindland and staff are working through as far as these are the skill-sets we want to see at age-group. All of it is coming through the National Team. I’ll be directing it, but at the same time, everything we will be going over is coming straight from the National Team’s directive for age-group development and what our Cadet and Junior World Team coaches have put down for us.”
Interested parties beware: the deadline is fast-approaching. Registrations must be in by noon on Monday, March 13th to reserve spots. And if we’ve learned anything in recent years about special Greco-Roman camps and clinics, space at these things tends to disappear quickly. For fast registration please contact Gary Mayabb via email or phone (816) 838-5950.
2018 USA WRESTLING NATIONAL GRECO-ROMAN WORKSHOP
Huntington Convention Center, Hall A — Cleveland, Ohio
Thursday, March 15th: 7:00am-7:45am — check-in; 7:45am-10:00am — technical workshop
Friday, March 16th — 7:15-7:45am — athletes & coaches meeting; 7:45am-9:45am — technical workshop