Next weekend will usher in the 2022 Bill Farrell Memorial, the first Senior tournament in the US since the September World Team Trials. A particularly big deal this season in more ways than one, for there have been a dearth of events stateside during the pandemic, plus the Farrell has been moved from its home in New York to Iowa. That the thing is also serving as the selection process for the American Pan-Am roster is altogether the most important component, though at the moment people are just happy to know that the Seniors will finally be let loose once again.
But something else is popping. Something else that, in its own way, is just as vital. The day after Greco-Roman wraps at the Farrell, a foursome of US age-group Greco athletes are heading overseas for the second time this calendar year.
Gunnar Hamre (63 kg, Combat WC ), Cael Kahle (67 kg, Ringers ), Jeremy Bockert (63 kg, Interior Grappling Academy), and Aidan Squier (72 kg, Scorpions) were all on the trip to Romania last month that revolved around training concerns. April’s journey to Europe will present more of the same, except this time a tournament is on the itinerary. It will also re-involve a friendly face and voice from Denmark who is willing to lend a hand.
The athletes are scheduled to depart from the US on April 2. Their first stop will be Brydeklubben Thor in Nykobing Falster, Denmark. Run by popular Danish coach Thor Hyllegaard, the circumstances invoke pleasant memories. In the fall of ’17, Alston Nutter (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS) and Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS) stayed with Hyllegaard for multiple weeks without any other Americans in tow. The experience left a lasting impression, and also helped catapult both athletes towards new heights that season.
One week following their arrival in DEN, the small US contingent will compete in the Grand Prix Chomutov. Located in the Czech Republic, Chomutov’s tournament is open to multiple age-groups and, typically, attracts stout participation from neighboring countries. Three years ago, two Americans (Cole Stephenson and Tyler Hannah) earned bronze at Chomutov and remained in-country for a week-long training camp.
Which is the one deviation compared to ’19. After the Grand Prix Chomutov ends, the American wrestlers will head back to Denmark for another week of training with Hyllegaard before returning home on April 16.
Hamre, Kahle, Bockert, and Squier are busy this very weekend, as well. Combat WC’s yearly camp featuring National Team head coach Matt Lindland began yesterday with approximately four dozen athletes in attendance. Those numbers carry significance, but the annual Lindland camp in Blue River always hits capacity. What Combat coach Lucas Steldt feels might be an even more encouraging sign regarding age-group development is the degree of Greco-only interest.
“Camp is going awesome so far,” Steldt said prior to Saturday morning’s first session. “What’s different this year is that 100% of the athletes who are here want to get better at Greco-Roman wrestling. In past years, just estimating, about 50% of the room wanted to get better at Greco while the other 50% were here to learn more Greco-Roman wrestling in order to get better at folkstyle. They were here to obtain tools to use for folkstyle because they were going Division I, DII, or DIII. We still have those types of athletes here, but they also want to make World Teams and become better Greco-Roman wrestlers for that reason. They aren’t here to improve in another style, they are here to improve at Greco.”
2022 Grand Prix Chomutov
April 8-9 — Chomutov, CZE
TEAM USA ROSTER
Jeremy Bockert (IGA)
Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC)
Cael Kahle (Ringers)
Aidan Squier (Scorpions)
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