Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco-Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland questions pertaining to recent events, training, and other topics surrounding the sport of Greco-Roman. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward, let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
This week, we talk to US Greco-Roman head coach Matt Lindland just as the 2017 US World Team Trials begin taking front-and-center in the country. With several athletes changing weight classes seemingly at the last minute, the purpose behind that is brought up and the coach speaks about the different variables wrestlers consider when making a switch. Also included is the significant depth present in just about every Senior weight division as well as the importance of the Junior Trials, which also take place this coming week. We’re ready to go in 5…4…3…2…
5PM: There have been several notable athletes switching weight classes for the Trials. It’s not a new phenomena, but the number kind of stands out this time around. What do you attribute to athletes changing the weights they choose to compete at this close to the event?
Coach Matt Lindland: It’s a great question. I think maybe if it’s this close before the Trials, what’s going through your mind is, This ain’t worth it, I’m sick of destroying my body trying to get down to a weight class. So I’m happy that these guys are moving up. If they’re in the wrong weight class, this is a new quad, so now is the time to be moving up. I’m happy for them. I think there are a lot of guys who are still probably in the wrong weight classes, but things are definitely going to change next year when there are two-hour weigh ins and ten weights, so they will have more spots to be at. But things will definitely change. I think we’ll see guys trying to cut too much weight with the two-hour weigh in and they’ll make that decision again later, as well, like, Ah, that didn’t work. It’s just getting to know your body and getting to know where you’re best at. You have to feel good to perform well.
5PM: I know you want guys at where they are most comfortable. Science is playing an increasing role in weight-cutting, too. It’s logical, athletes perform better when they aren’t suffering to make weight. Do you think that come next year the addition of two weight classes and the weigh in procedures will actually improve the quality of wrestling we’re seeing?
ML: That is certainly the hope. I mean, the only way it is going to help is if guys are wrestling in the weight classes they’re supposed to be in. If they are still trying to suck too much weight down, it’s really going to affect their performances more because they won’t have 12 hours to recover, they’ll have two hours. The guys who are at the right classes, do I think they’ll be able to put on more exciting matches? Yes, I do. If somebody is at the wrong class, I don’t think they’ll be able to perform. At all.
5PM: You talked before last year’s Olympics about peaking and mini-peaking. Coming off of the March European Tour, is there a value to having a string of recent competitions leading up to an event like this?
ML: I think there is a lot of value to having competition leading into an event. Especially because I don’t think our competitions were too close to our Trials. I think they were far enough away to allow us to make some adjustments technically and tactically. I think we were able to make some good adjustments.
5PM: This is your fourth Trials. Not counting last year’s Olympic Trials, where does this year’s rank in terms of overall depth in your view?
Coach Matt Lindland: Well, I definitely think this is the best depth that I have seen since I’ve been National Team coach, for sure. That’s not on accident. It takes a lot of work getting more athletes into the program and more guys wrestling Greco-Roman. That has been the goal since I’ve come on board. I want to have it to where these guys have to fight to get on a team and they’re pushing each other and each guy is making the other guy stronger.
5PM: Are there any weight classes in particular you’re looking forward to seeing?
ML: In particular? I think there are a good number of weight classes where I couldn’t guess the winner, and those are the ones I’m the most excited about, just to see who emerges.
5PM: Also this week and it shouldn’t be shuffled under the radar, is the Junior World Team Trials. There are some guys who will be doing double-duty. That Junior World Team last year put forth a strong performance. What do you see as far as the potential for this year’s Junior World Team once it is selected?
ML: Well, we have a little different procedure with this year’s event. Three athletes have earned the right to sit out and that fits right into the philosophy that I’ve been trying to develop, which is that our Junior athletes should be capable to compete at the Senior level. Our top Juniors, the guys who have been going overseas competing at the World Championships, should also be competing on the Senior level. So we set up a criteria procedure and if they placed in the top four and they were last year’s World Team member, they earned the right to sit out of competition. If we had the rest of our guys wrestling Greco and not going into the folkstyle system, I think we’d see guys like Mike Rodgers and Nick Reenan show up in December, place top four in our Nationals, and they were former World Team members, as well. But really, the only guys who are capable of doing that are committed full-time to our Greco-Roman program.
5PM: The talent this year for the Juniors is potentially very strong, just looking at who’s registered. That seems like another terrific sign that the youth is coming around a little bit more.
ML: That’s exactly what that is. And again, it’s spending more time with the Junior and Cadet age groups. It’s bringing the Cadets to work with our Juniors, it’s bringing the Juniors to work with our Seniors. That’s how you create that level, you have to push against somebody who is going to test your abilities, the edge of your abilities. If they are really good at the Junior level, then they should be wrestling some at the Senior level, and you saw us doing that overseas with our top Juniors. They wrestled one week at a top Junior event and they wrestled the next week at a Senior event.
5PM: Okay, what exactly is your schedule following the World Team Trials as far as leaving for Brazil?
ML: We get back on Sunday and we leave Monday in the afternoon. We have to drive up to Denver, take the plane down to Texas, and head to Brazil.
5PM: So it’s as quick of a turnaround as it seems like on paper.
ML: It is, it is (laughs). I get in and I’m not even home for 24 hours, I’m back on a plane to another country.
5PM: That’s the job description.
Coach Matt Lindland: That is the job description and I enjoy it.