USA Greco

Monday Roundup: THOR MASTERS ’22 Official; US World Team Camp Update; Peak Q&A

benji peak, thor masters 2022, world team camp update
Benji Peak -- Photo: Sam Janicki

15 days after Greco-Roman concludes at the 2022 World Championships will be the annual Thor Masters Invitational in Nykobing Falster, Denmark. Recognized as one of the sport’s most popular tournaments, Thor Masters is equally attractive to athletes and hardcore fans alike.

The “Nordic system”, which sees brackets drawn into A/B pools, guarantees participants a minimum of two matches (provided there are more than two entries). It is not uncommon for champions (and medalists) in heavily-populated weight categories to wrestle six to seven bouts — a task made only slightly easier now that Thor Masters has moved into a two-day format.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

The field of competitors is the event’s other major selling point. Thor Masters regularly features many of Greco-Roman’s top international stars along with skilled up-and-comers from in and around the region. This year, even more surging prospects than usual may appear in the tournament due to where it lands on the calendar. Just as Thor Masters ’22 takes place two weeks following the Senior Worlds, it arrives almost exactly one month prior to the U23 World Championships in Spain.

For the second year in a row, Thor Masters is forced to buck tradition by being held in September, with ongoing pandemic hindrances in Denmark the reason why. In other words, a fall date was not the objective but simply the best option if a ’22 running were to remain the plan. “This is solely due to COVID restrictions, which were put back at the beginning of the year,” says BK Thor head coach and tournament organizer Thor Hyllegaard. “So, we hope that it will be used as the last tournament before U23 Worlds.”

With Senior World Team tune-ups (and selection) still on the table for a host of countries, it is too early for the entry list to materialize. Hyllegaard is hoping for what is usually an enthusiastic turnout, though he insists that the endeavor is ultimately about facilitating an opportunity for athletes to face high-caliber competition. “Thor Masters can be used for U23 Worlds preparation but it is also a unique chance for other Senior wrestlers who did not participate in the Worlds to gain experience against the top elite,” states Hyllegaard.

Last but certainly not least is the training. In the eyes of athletes and coaches, the camp to which Thor Masters is attached might be as desirable as the tournament itself. A large number of athletes who bypass competing enthusiastically attend practices held inside of the Barbarian Training Center. The camp (which in ’22 goes from October 3-8) is most lauded for its productivity. Sessions are typically competitive, grueling, and taxing; but with such a wide variety of World-level partners from whom to choose, training in Nykobing Falster on the heels of a Thor Masters event is a priority for dozens of national federations.

Thor Masters 2022 is scheduled for September 30-October 1 and will be available to stream here.

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World Team Camp Update

The USA Seniors have moved operations this week from the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to the Army World Class Athletes Program’s wrestling room on base at Fort Carson. Most members of the 2022 US World Team have been in attendance thus far. Greco-Roman General Manager Ivan Ivanov is presiding over the practice sessions with assistance from Army/WCAP’s substantial coaching staff. The World Team is expected to continue training through the summer prior to the World Championships in September.

Peak Q&A

Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS) is no stranger to participating in major Senior camps, but things are different nowadays. This time around, Peak is a first-time Senior World Team member following his gritty series victory at the expense of Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) last month at Final X: Stillwater, making the current camp his first as the #1 athlete in his weight category.

It was a big spring for “Mr. Fantastic”. The US Open in April saw Peak return to action after recovering from a torn shoulder. He won that event, defeating Pete Ogunsanya (West Point WC) in the finals — before going 2-0 at the Trials and ultimately downing Smith for the top spot in early-June. Since then, the blinders have been affixed tightly to his face. Peak is fully locked into training and zeroing in on his first chance to earn a World medal. Just as the first week of World Team camp in Springs was drawing to a close this past Wednesday, he took a time-out to provide a few quick-hitting insights pertaining to the process.

5PM: You didn’t go on the overseas trip to Rome and Austria, and part of that from my understanding was to hold you back a little just to give your shoulder more time. How are you holding up physically during this camp?

Benji Peak: I feel good. I don’t know, we’ve been going pretty hard the past couple of days and so my body is pretty sore. But I’m doing good, I’m doing good.

5PM: Now that you are in the actual World Team camp as a World Team member, does this experience feel the way you might have imagined it would?

Peak: Yeah, it feels about normal. It feels exactly how I thought it would. It just feels normal.

5PM: What has been the best part about camp so far?

Peak: Getting to see my friends. For sure. I have a lot of friends, a lot of friends I’m close with who I don’t get to see until we go to camp. So, it’s nice to see everyone.

5PM: Did you come into the first leg of World Team camp with any specific goals, be them tactical, physical, or conditioning-wise?

Peak: I did. I definitely came in with some goals as far as things that I wanted to work on. Sticking in the pummel a little more. You can always work on pummeling. There will never be a point where you are the best at it, and it’s definitely something that I need to work on.

I’ve been focusing on that, as well as getting tough on bottom. I feel like we have been doing a lot of good workouts to focus on that. I feel like I have made improvements on the areas that I’ve wanted to improve upon thus far. Again, we have seven and a half weeks to get even better. I have a lot of confidence in my abilities over the next seven weeks at the World Championships.

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Listen to “5PM52: Two-Time Olympian Jim Gruenwald” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM51: Lining up with Tanner Farmer” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM50: Mr. Fantastic Benji Peak” on Spreaker.

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