Last month, a contingent of age-group wrestlers from the United States were supposed to wind up in Sweden. Sundsvall, to be exact. The usual deal. A tournament, a camp, time away from home to absorb the technical and cultural differences Greco-Roman offers elsewhere.
But that opportunity evaporated not long before their scheduled departure. Poof. Crossed off, x’ed out. Sweden, once deemed the least restricted Scandinavian nation during the pandemic, has over the course of the past few months drastically changed course. Sundsvall organizers and others on the periphery decided to cancel, and a solid international Junior tournament became unavailable.
Those in and around the US developmental system quickly scrambled to find a replacement tour. They didn’t waste any time in identifying a second chance winter trip, which in turn provided a second chance for several of the age-groupers who were originally targeted for Sundsvall. “Sweden got cancelled for us in January, so I reached out to a contact from Romania and it worked out that they had something in which we could participate,” Ringers (WI) head coach Bill Kahle said.
The small US delegation arrived on Friday for camp in Timisoara, Romania, with practices to be held at the Heracle Sports Club operated by Moldovan coach Roman Zgardan. Two weeks ago, one of Zgardan’s star pupils, Vitalie Eriomenco, surprised the 60-kilogram field at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open by coming away with gold.
In total, five American athletes are set for involvement: ’21 Fargo champ Jeremy Bockert (63 kg, IGA), Gunnar Hamre (63 kg, Combat WC), Cael Kahle (67 kg, Ringers), Cohlton Parduhn (67 kg, IGA), and Aidan Squier (71 kg, Scorpion). All of the above had Sundsvall on their minds, but this particular Euro jaunt does not figure to disappoint. The athletes are on the hook for a full two weeks of training alongside Denmark, Ukraine, and the aforementioned Moldova and Romania. Squier’s agenda is lengthier compared to his US teammates. The Cadet (U17) competitor will remain overseas for an additional two weeks before entering a tournament in Moldova.
Though they are two distinct countries with separate wrestling federations, Moldova and Romania share a unique closeness aside from being neighbors — though that is a big part of it. Athletes from both nations, in a variety of sports, regularly cross borders for training and competition.
USA Age-Group Winter Tour Roster (ROU)
63 kg: Jeremy Bockert (IGA)
63 kg: Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC)
63 kg: Colton Parduhn (IGA)
67 kg: Cael Kahle (Ringers)
72 kg: Aidan Squier (Scorpions)
Bill Kahle (Ringers)
Westley Bockert (IGA)
Omar Feliciano (Scorpion)
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