The United States Greco Roman program was 1 for 8 in terms of medals at the Paris International Tournament over the weekend. In total, it was seven US Marine Greco competitors along with Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) who competed in Paris. The Marines made the trip all the way from the US while Smith had already been in Europe studying and training in Sweden. Daniel Miller (98 kg) came away with his second international bronze medal thanks to his frighteningly-quick destruction of 2015 Cadet World silver medalist Robert Ersek (HUN). There is no denying Miller’s overall wrestling ability. He’s plenty strong and has a certain fluidity about his transitions that when he does score, makes it all look very natural. Even if it doesn’t feel that way for him just yet.
No one else from the US came all that close to earning a medal. JayShon Wilson (71 kg) was pulled into the repechage before being defeated by Evrik Nikoghosyan (FRA), Eric Fader (130 kg) competed in a light bracket and reached the bronze medal match but ran into 2016 Junior World bronze medalist Ferenc Almasi (HUN), and that just isn’t a match he is expected to do much in currently.
But until further notice, this is the medicine some of the more inexperienced wrestlers will have to take. As a new quadrennial continues to unfold, there are going to be weekends just like this one and that is all understood. Development is sometimes an ugly business, but there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, especially for a few of these guys provided they keep at it.
The 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International takes place this Wednesday in Colorado Springs and there are several compelling storylines to follow. Conversation will likely center around the fact that three of the country’s finest Greco-Roman wrestlers will be making their long-awaited returns: 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (NYAC), RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC), and Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets). It looks like at least for this tournament, all three might very well be up a weight from where they usually are, although Perkins going to 71 kilograms has been public knowledge for quite some time. Speiller himself announced to the world that he would be moving up to 80 kilos, but just the fact he is competing almost makes his weight class a non-issue, given his ability.
Thielke, who is likely to be wrestling at 66 kilograms, is no stranger to that weight class. If you remember, Thielke entered the 2015 US Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier at 66 and put in a couple of strong performances overseas at the weight before coming back down to 59 for the Trials. That seems like the route he is going to take this time around, as well. Unless of course he is staying at 66, which could also be possible.
Perkins hasn’t had a match since the 2nd World OG Qualifier back in early-May. He was on-pace to return for the 2016 Non-Olympic Weight World Team Trials this past November, but the spinal fracture he endured had not healed in full, resulting in a setback. It’s quite the lay-off for Perkins and while he may or may not have his “A game” Wednesday, he wants to get some mat time in before he travels overseas come March. This is what he said about coming back for the Schultz earlier this month: “I believe I am ready and even if I’m not, I can’t just go over to Denmark without having some matches first.” Sounds like he has a plan.
Thielke is also coming back from injury. The 24-year old had a labrum issue in the fall and was forced to deal with the subsequent recovery time associated with that. Since he is no longer a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center, Thielke has been preparing for his return back home in Wisconsin. Provided he is healed up and ready to go, it’ll be interesting to see how he performs without forced par terre for the first and perhaps only time he will get a chance to do so. There might be fireworks. (Note: Thielke is apparently competing at 59 kilograms)
If you want to talk lay-offs, Speiller rules the discussion. He hasn’t been in a dust-up since the Olympic Trials and because he is such a talent, you’re almost tempted to dismiss the inactivity. Wherever this guy goes, excitement is bound to follow. Should Speiller decide to stay at 80, there is a multitude of potential match-ups there that would have everyone glued to their seats. If he stays at 75 kilos, seeing how he stacks up against the young guns in the sport like Kamal Bey (Sunkist) and Jesse Porter (NYAC-OTS) would make for incredible theater. The US needs a healthy, motivated Speiller back in action and thankfully, that is coming right away.
Also — Taylor LaMont (59 kg, CWC) will be back in Senior competition. Even before his impressive showing at the US Nationals last month in Las Vegas, LaMont had the Schultz zeroed in on his dial. Could the Utah Valley redshirt freshman all the sudden turn into a legit threat for the Trials? Time will tell, so let’s see how he fares on Wednesday.
All in all, this is an important event. For the Juniors and Seniors who are going over to Europe in March, the Schultz, as always, represents a good opportunity to lock up with opponents both familiar and foreign (although there will not be heavy presence of international competitors this year, unfortunately). For those US athletes who will not be traveling overseas, this tournament may stand as the last competition available before the World Team Trials in April, so the lessons learned here have to be carried over a few months from now.
It’s Robby’s birthday
2016 US Olympian and beared face of the US Greco Roman program Robby Smith has his birthday today — Feel free to wish him well on Twitter!
What’s coming up here
- As usual, a new “Coach Lindland’s Report” going over the conclusion of Winter Camp, the Paris International, the Schultz, and more.
- Coverage and summaries of the aforementioned Schultz.
- Updates from around the sport.
- An addition to the videos section. Baby steps.
- An athlete profile — someone you love!
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