The Grand Prix Chomutov is one of Central Europe’s most-participated tournaments for age-group athletes and Aidan Squier (72 kg, Scorpions) managed to make the podium on his first try.
Squier, competing in the U17 division, led the way for what was a small American delegation by finishing with a 4-2 record, good for fourth place. Joining him in the event were fellow USA Greco devotees Jeremy Bockert (63 kg, IGA), Gunnar Hamre (63 kg, Combat WC), and Cael Kahle (67 kg, Ringers). Neither Bockert, Hamre, or Kahle managed to record a victory in the tournament.
The American foursome are in the middle of a two-week stay overseas. Last Saturday, they traveled to Nykobing Falster, Denmark to train (and lodge) under the care of Thor Hyllegaard before spending parts of the next five days in training camp. Chomutov offered both a competitive opportunity and a way to break-up the trip. The collective will now re-focus on the educational aspect of their latest European experience by heading back to Denmark for more time with Hyllegaard, which according to Combat WC coach Lucas Steldt is the entire point of the mini-tour.
“I just want to say that, whether people know it or not, Thor is one of USA Greco’s best friends and assets,” Steldt noted on Saturday. “He cares. And they (Danish wrestlers and coaches) want us to get good.” Steldt’s assertion covers more than a handful of examples directed towards Hyllegaard’s involvement in Greco-Roman development for US wrestlers. The United States program, as a whole, has formed a viable relationship with Brydeklubben Thor (Hyllegaard’s academy) and the Danes, in general. This is evidenced by the numerous co-opted training camps that have occurred over the past several years, along with the Americans’ regular attendance at Thor Masters, Denmark’s flagship international competition.
But there is one instance in particular that comes to mind first, and it is also the main reason why Steldt and Ringers coach Bill Kahle felt this early-spring jaunt to Scandinavia was important. Back in the fall of 2017, Alston Nutter (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #4) and Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #2) were still considered youthful but promising neophytes when they stayed with Hyllegaard — on their own — for two weeks. Nutter earned gold and Peak scored bronze at Denmark’s age-group tournament called the Bear Cup soon after arriving; but it was the intense, authentic Greco curriculum they absorbed from Hyllegaard for the better part of two weeks that Steldt insists helped set the tone for the Wisconsin duo’s unmistakable progress.
“The athletes we sent to Thor this year are younger and therefore ahead of where Alston and Benji were when they went to Denmark in ’17,” explained Steldt. “Technically, as far as the moves and what they can do, they’re a little ahead and also younger in their careers as far as being Cadets and first-year Juniors. But what they lack is the culture and nuance that goes hand-in-hand with competing in Greco at the World level. We need to have consistent international contact and to get them to understand that what they are learning over there will help them improve much faster.”
2022 Grand Prix Chomutov
April 8-9 — Chomutov, CZE
Jeremy Bockert (IGA) — DNP
Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) — DNP
Cael Kahle (Ringers) — DNP
Aidan Squier (Scorpions) — 4th
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