Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland some questions to get his take on training and upcoming competitions. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
This time, we speak to Coach Lindland just a couple of days after the 2016 Olympic Wrestling Trials in Iowa City, Iowa. In what was an extremely eventful weekend, five wrestlers made their first Olympic teams and one returned to claim his spot (Ben Provisor, NYAC, 85 kg). Iowa City also saw the emergence of Jesse Thielke (NYAC, 59 kg), an athlete who had previously been one to watch out for but not thought of as the heir-apparent. Two other wrestlers, Andy Bisek (Minnesota Storm, 75 kg) and Robby Smith (NYAC, 130 kg) entered the weekend as sizable favorites and accordingly took their next steps towards achieving Olympic gold. Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm, 98 kg) had a truly impressive run, as well.
Coach Lindland’s Weekly Report: 4/12/2016
5PM: Talk about Jesse Thielke‘s performance, specifically in the finals. I know that you’ve gotten a chance to know him and work with him a lot over the last few years.
Matt Lindland: Yeah, I got to know Jesse in ’13 when he was on our World Team. I was so sad to find out when I got back and got hired that he had gone to Wisconsin and got sucked back into that folkstyle system. It was just the pressure of his family, his college coaches, and you know, the culture is what really sucks you back in. It wasn’t what he wanted to do. I think it was like he was forced to be there and wasn’t happy, and his performance showed. And now he’s back doing what he loves to do. He even mentioned it, “I’m doing what I love to do, what I was put on this planet to do, which is throw people on their head.” And he’s very good at it.
I thought his performance throughout the whole tournament he took risks and scored a lot of points. And when he didn’t have to score a lot of points he was willing to put on a show for the fans. To take those opportunities and capitalize on them and finish off the match and win by tech fall in exciting fashion. Jesse is not only an incredible athlete, but he’s a great performer and representative for our sport.
5PM: Both Andy Bisek and Robby Smith almost seemed ready to hop into Olympic competition right now…
ML: Not at all. Not at all. They hit a “mini-peak” here. We did the little mini-peak and now we’re going to come back down and focus on some weak areas. Robby’s going to continue to lose the fat and put on muscle. I just had a meeting today with our strength and conditioning coaches and our nutritionist for Andy and Robby because they’re going to be here at the OTC working with those guys. We’re going to rest them, recover them, and get them back on a nice, heavy lifting cycle, build some more base conditioning. When we come back from Mongolia, we’ll do some more technical work and start into our regular training plan once we get to Baku.
After their couple of weeks of base conditioning here and strength (training), they’re both going to Europe in two separate spots. Andy’s going to Austria and Robby’s going to Hungary. We brought some Europeans over earlier this year to sharpen up some skill-sets, so they’re going back over there to work with some Europeans. They’re going to stay in Europe from the 29th (of April) till the 16th (of May). Then when they get back here everyone is going to meet in Concord (California) where we’ll have the international junior training camp. We’re going to have our guys there. That’s going to be more of a technical camp for our senior athletes and Olympic Team. And it’s also an opportunity for them work with some of the juniors and actually coach them. Because if you can teach it, you can do it. So, it’s my plan to let them teach and then I’m going to work with them on some technical areas for them to continue to improve on.
After that camp, everyone will go back to their respective homes and do another base conditioning cycle for the last week of May through the first week of June. We’ll focus on strength and conditioning again. And then after that we’re going to head to Baku on the 11th (of June) to the 3rd of July, three weeks. That’ll be our Olympic Team training camp in Azerbaijan with multiple nations. We’re hoping to take some of the young prospects like Adam Coon and Tracy Hancock, and some of our other young talented guys who are hopefully going to be on our Olympic Team in 2020.
5PM: How was your first experience as the head of the US Greco Roman program watching what was happening at the Olympic Trials?
ML: It was a little nerve-wracking, to tell you the truth, you know (laughs). I think I got an idea of who is going to perform the best at the Games. But quite honestly, we lost a couple guys. Jordan Holm went down but quite frankly, he hasn’t won a match at the World Championships in three years. So I think it’s time to get somebody else in there and give it a shot. You know, Ben is doing the right things and training properly, he’s an incredible athlete, he’s a great wrestler. You know, he grew up being coached by Dennis Hall so I mean, the kid knows how to wrestle. If he’s going to have his mind and his attitude right, he can be successful. He can’t let things like how he’s getting treated, who’s getting what, get in the way of his own goals and his own training. You know, he’s worried about what everyone else is doing instead of worrying about how he can prepare the best for himself. So I think it’d be really great to see him on our team and see how he can do.
That was one way where I think everyone was kind of like, “Well, Jordan’s going to take it again…”
5PM: Yeah, as an observer I too figured this was all set up as Jordan’s to lose and that Jon Anderson was picked by most to be the one to press him.
Matt Lindland: Well he did last year at the Trials. It should’ve gone to three. But yeah, Jon just didn’t have a good tournament, he just didn’t. Unfortunately, none of the Army guys did. They tend to pull away from what we’re doing in our training. We train with them a lot because we live here in Colorado Springs together. But as we get closer to domestic competitions they like to pull away and prepare separately and that’s fine, that’s their right. But I would’ve loved to have them preparing with us alongside the whole way through as one team. And then we got to go out and compete against each other, but then maybe you’re going to run into one of those Tony Ramos-Dan Dennis situations, but that’s strange. You’ve got to train with the best guys. That’s crazy that Ramos would think that way.
I don’t think people expected RaVaughn (Perkins) and I didn’t expect Saddoris to go down like that. He (Saddoris) was a match away from getting a medal last year in one of his best performances yet. But he’s a humble class act, he told me, “Let me know how I can help RaVaughn, I want to be where you guys need me.”
5PM: He’s a great kid, tough wrestler and fun to watch. He didn’t have the tournament of his life but I guess that happens. I also felt for Pat Smith, I like his style a lot.
ML: Oh yeah, he’s awesome. He’s come so far in just a short little time since he’s quit folkstyle. You know, he was a third-stringer last year and I was like, “Pat, you don’t need to wrestle folkstyle anymore, you’re not making that lineup. Start focusing on Greco.” And he just couldn’t do it (leave Minnesota), he made a commitment to the team and felt like he needed to see that through.
5PM: Where does somebody like Pat Smith, Bryce Saddoris or any other guys in that range, who just lost in the biggest tournament of their lives so far, go from here?
ML: They go back and try to make that World Team next year. There are eight weights, so they can move around a little bit, there’s some flexibility. Maybe we’ll see Saddoris up at 71 (kg). Hopefully Pat will make a move all the way up to 75. I recommended that, I don’t think he should stay at 71. Because I mean, I never want to see him at 66 again, so (laughs). He needs to grow into that weight class and start now.
5PM: You guys are leaving for Mongolia in a few days, so what’s the rest of your week look like?
ML: I have today (Tuesday) and tomorrow, and then I’m on a plane to Mongolia the next day.
5PM: Best case scenario, everyone qualifies and you’re coming back. If not, are you guys sticking around? Wrestling starts April 22nd and then May 6th in Turkey.
Matt Lindland: Yep, we’re going to Budapest. We’re going to hang out in Europe, that’s the plan.
Five Point Move certainly wishes Coach Lindland and the boys the best of luck as they head off to the First OG World Qualifying Tournament in Ulaanbaata, Mongolia. United World Wrestling will be providing live results. And of course, be sure to keep it here for extended coverage as the tournament progresses.
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