For the second year in a row, a contingent of American Greco-Roman age-group athletes will be heading over to Sweden for the annual Sundsvall Open (February 2).
One of Europe’s most populated tournaments for wrestlers in the U20 division, the Sundsvall Open has, in recent years, become a preferred option for the US program. The competition is the main reason but, like so many other overseas jaunts (which this one was disrupted for the US and others due to the pandemic), those who take the trip also gain an opportunity to participate in a high quality training camp following the event. Of course, the timing matters, as well. With its spot on the calendar right in the middle of winter, trips to Sundsvall for the United States help set a competitive foundation that the wrestlers can use as they gear up for the rest of the season.
Combat WC founder Lucas Steldt, who is the most prolific voice and organizer pertaining to overseas opportunities for young American Greco athletes, is leading the Sundsvall delegation that includes competitors from his club as well as from Westley Bockert’s Interior Grappling Academy in Alaska. Steldt is keen on periodization and as such considers multiple factors when planning cross-Atlantic excursions.
“Our training is based on ‘micro cycles’ and are typically four to six weeks of training at our home facility prior to a competition,” he says. “We will schedule competitions that are attached to camps when available. We also try to schedule another competition after a week or two of a training camp. It is normal for our athletes to be overseas between 10 to 45 days. We then return home and reorganize our training plans for our next training module with evaluations from the competitions and training camps.”
Sundsvall represents the first of two European treks on the docket for US age-group Greco-Roman athletes this winter, with Steldt holding the wheel for both of them. After returning from Sweden on February 5, the roster will have a short break before embarking on a tour to Finland; they will stay in Europe for another competition and training consortium in Budapest and finally come back home in time for a camp that Steldt is hosting at his facility featuring 2000 Olympic/’01 World silver medalist and former US National Team head coach Matt Lindland. The Lindland camp is positioned to serve as one last formal primer leading to the succession of US age-group selection tournaments that arrive in the spring.
“Over the years I have learned to be more strategic of where we go and when,” explains Steldt. “Early season, from September to January, we train the majority in-house. We compete maybe two times, once in November and again in December overseas. We choose ‘Americanized’ places with fair competition. Starting in February, we head towards Eastern Block countries to compete and train.
“These places become a earn-your-way-in type relationship, Steldt continues. “You don’t want to send athletes who are unprepared. You will lose respect and opportunities. It is also not fair to athletes who do not yet have the skill-set or experience to be in those types of training environments. Steldt does have a solution if and when there might be the potential for up-and-coming youths to get overwhelmed. “I’ll separate them and send some to one place as others will go somewhere different depending on the athlete and their individual needs.”
The full USA roster complete with other information on the ’24 Sundsvall Open will be available in the forthcoming Monday Roundup.
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