USA Greco

USA Coach Herb House Talks Nationals & Greco Goals for 2024

The vast majority of news and reports lately has consistently included items surrounding the 2023 US Nationals/Olympic Team Trials Qualifier, which was presented in Fort Worth, Texas last weekend. There is a reason for the content focus: if the name itself fails to convey the obvious, the National tournament was, is, the second-most important domestic event of the season; and it was also the most populated competitive showcase for the US dating back to the previous iteration of the tournament in December of ’19.

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But, even if ever-so-slightly, the winds are beginning to shift towards the future. Shortly after the New Year, a delegation of American Greco-Roman athletes will make their way to Croatia in advance of the Grand Prix Zagreb Open “Ranking Series” tournament and its accompanying training opportunity in Porec. The delegation, which will consist mainly of those who finished 1st and 2nd in Fort Worth, is expected to arrive home on January 27. A brief pause will then commence only to be interrupted by a training camp that is designed to prepare the USA roster for both the Pan-American Championships and the Olympic Games Qualifier, with the latter event offering the best chance of the season for US competitors to earn berths in their respective weight categories on behalf of the country for Paris ’24.

In other words, with the National tournament now having taken up residence in the memory bank, other, more-pressing matters have become the concern. And to speak on them is current US Olympic Training Center/Assistant National Team coach Herb House.

House, who starting on January 1, ’24 will be officially named the US National Team head coach, was, naturally, in attendance last week in Fort Worth and closely observed how the athletes went about their business. Upon returning to work on Monday, he has had to assess performances, confer with wrestlers (and officials as well as other coaches) and participate in a committee meeting. He has been busy — but still made it a priority to address the key topics facing his program once ’24 gets underway.

5PM: This was the second-most important domestic tournament of the year that we just had. There were surprising results in some weight classes, while in others perhaps not so much. What was the biggest positive takeaway you had when looking at it as one whole performance?

Coach Herb House: I think the best component was having everyone there, the depth of it. It was rich in depth. There were great matches in the first round, second round, third round… Just great matches. It was great to see. When everyone shows up, it makes Greco look so exciting. A lot of people do not get the real Greco-Roman look until they see everyone competing.

5PM: Anyone in particular by whom you were especially impressed? Not just champions, but overall?

House: I think everyone, really. Everyone surprised me, really. They all wrestled great matches. It is hard to say. Cohlton (Schultz) wrestled a very solid match, (Alex) Sancho had a good match. He was behind and came back. Peyton Omania wrestled a good match, too. Spencer Woods, even though it was a different type of match, I think (Mahmoud) Sebie brought out the best in him and pushed him to a new level to become even more like the Spencer Woods who we know. And the Spencer Woods we know is a great fighter.

I think everyone wrestled some good matches. There is not really one person who stands out. I think overall everyone wrestled good matches.

To Whom Belongs the Glory graphic

5PM: The Fort Worth Convention Center was a good venue, and it was the same one used for the ’19 version of the same tournament. What do you like about the way it presents the sport, just in terms of layout and everything else?

House: I like the Convention Center. It is close to everything, it is very convenient. You get to see a better view of all the matches. It is a great opportunity for us to put Greco and USA Wrestling in different parts of the US where wrestling might not be as popular as it is in some other states. I think it is a great place to start putting our footprint on in order to try and build wrestling.

5PM: Now we are in an interim leading to a major trip overseas. It is tough because there is a come-down after the tournament. How do you see the Croatia trip coming up considering its timing relative to the Pan-Am trip? There will be a little less than a month between coming back from Croatia and the Pan-Am tournaments. A lot of intensity is going to be involved with the training in Porec. How do you manage the periodization aspects for those who will be on the roster for the Olympic qualifier?

Coach Herb House: Basically, we are going to get into Croatia, wrestle in the tournament, figure out mistakes if we have them, fix them, get new looks, and work on our par terre. Par terre is always going to be something that we focus on. We are going to go hard, very hard, in Croatia. It is going to be great preparation for us. Then we are coming back home on the 27th and meet back up again on February 7th — and that is going to be more preparation to get us where we need to be for the Olympic Qualifier.

We’ll stay there in Colorado until February 17th getting our strategies together, one-on-one training, and figuring out the best solutions for each individual guy so that we can qualify these weight classes. We are going in there to get six weight classes. I know that we haven’t qualified six in a while, but that’s our goal. And I make sure to remind everyone of that every single day, ‘We’re qualifying six weight classes’.

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Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM54: WCAP’s Ryan Epps and a Final X Greco-Roman Preview” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM53: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

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