On Thursday, Matt Lindland’s eight-year tenure as United States Greco-Roman National Team Head Coach came to an end. Lindland was informed by USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender of the organization’s decision, which had reportedly been made at the recommendation of newly-installed Greco-Roman General Manager, Ivan Ivanov.
Lindland had returned home this week from Austria after originally traveling to Europe last month in advance of the Matteo Pellicone Memorial in Rome. The first day of World Team camp for the 2022 roster began in earnest on Thursday morning at the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The camp was initially expected to run until July 15, with more training scheduled for the World Team in Springs later this month. Earlier today, word started to circulate that the camp is instead expected to operate concurrently into August. Greco-Roman kicks off the ’22 Worlds in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday, September 10.
An Olympic silver medalist in ’00 as well as World silver the next year, Lindland parlayed his abilities as a wrestler into a pioneering career in mixed-martial arts. Throughout the proceeding decade following his retirement from Greco-Roman competition, the Oregon native became one of that sport’s biggest stars. Lindland first moved back into formal wrestling coaching by volunteering on-staff for one of his two collegiate alma maters, Clackamas Community College. Then in ’13, he was selected as a coach for the US World Team that competed in Budapest. The following June, Lindland succeeded Steve Fraser as US National Team head coach.
Under Lindland, Team USA won the ’15 Pan-American Games, the country’s first title from the event in 40 years. Although consistent individual success at the World level has proven elusive for the US program since their monumental performance in ’07, three athletes earned World medals during Lindland’s reign: Andy Bisek (bronze, ’14; bronze, ’15); Adam Coon (silver, ’18); and G’Angelo Hancock (bronze, ’21). The US also added several Pan-American Championships crowns, and qualified four of six weight categories for both the ’16 Rio and ’20 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Perhaps Lindland’s most important influence on the USA program has been found within its developmental structure. Steered by a focus on increasing youth participation and encouraging wrestlers to consider full-time Greco-Roman aspirations in lieu of traditional scholastic objectives, Lindland expanded opportunities for age-group athletes to attend domestic camps and travel overseas for training. In addition, he sought to empower grassroots coaches by holding clinics around the country along with availing pertinent supplemental resources. Hancock, Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP), Alston Nutter (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS), and Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS) are among the collection of athletes whose career trajectories were aided by Lindland’s insistence on the US program investing in what many have referred to as the “youth movement”.
Much more to come on the final Coach Lindland’s Report.
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