USA Greco

Elegant, Unique, Violent: RaVaughn’s Back-to-Back Pan Am Golds

ravaughn perkins, 2020 matteo pellicone
RAVAUGHN PERKINS -- PHOTO: PL-PHOTO

A Greco-Roman wrestler, in any era and from any nation, has to observe a foundational skill-set. There is no style of wrestling as reliant upon fundamental positions, motions, and techniques as Greco is and has always been. Most of these machinations are transferable between disciplines. Wrestling’s 7 Basic Skills, developed decades ago at this juncture, is proof of that concept. Stance, motion, level change, penetration, and lift — the first five — carry over with equal efficacy from one style to the next.

But the last two of the seven skills, back-step and back-arch? Those are most closely associated with international competition. Furthermore, they are seen as verifiable requirements for Greco-Roman participants.

Unless…

…an athlete is capable of expanding these foundational skills enough to inject their own stylistic touches in an effort to deploy a more purposeful, personal approach to generating actionable scoring attempts.

Not everything in wrestling has to be cookie-cutter. Nor should it be. Ever.

Greco-Roman, “true Greco”, is artful, adaptive, and customized according to an athlete’s body-type, physical capacity, and personality. If everyone were to wrestle the same way, no one would ever stand out. Many avenues exist in which a wrestler can find ways to fight — and score. Can’t have a bunch of drones crashing into one another on the mat.

RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC) seems to understand this better than most.

A two-time US National Champion, 2018 World Team member, and Olympic Trials Champion (’16), Perkins has resided at or near the top of the American Senior ladder for seven competitive seasons. Originally from Nebraska, Perkins burst onto the scene flashing an uncanny knack for exploiting tight corners on the feet which led to opportunistic scores. When he had to, and if it felt right, he could throw. He still carries these arrows in his quiver. But forcing traditional back-arching bodylocks is no longer a principle part of Perkins’ overall game.

Over the past few years, and at an increasing rate, he has become even deadlier moving forward. Not unlike his pal Jesse Thielke (Army/WCAP), Perkins is adept at — let’s say it together — “getting to the body”; but instead of locking and arching backwards, he often chooses to penetrate and explode forward. He can do this to initiate an offensive action, or as a counter attempt.

Just as important, if not more so, are points of entry. Whether it is a forward action, counter, or the result of hand-fighting or the pummel, the key for Perkins is speed. It is not the finish. However the scores arrive, they are almost unanimously the result of lightning-fast arm drags, throw-by’s, or shucks. In fact, it is this area of Perkins’ skill-set that receives the most attention.

While plenty of sample sizes are available for perusal from domestic competition, Perkins’ two appearances at the Pan-American Championships, in ’18 and ’19 respectively, provide more-than adequate insights into his methodology.

To say he won both tournaments could also be construed as an understatement. Perkins’ pair of Pan Am golds leave behind a ledger offering statistics that jump off the page:

2018

  • Three wins.
  • Two via tech.
  • Outscored opposition 21-0
  • Defeated ’16 Olympian and ’19 Pan Am Games runner-up Wuileixis Rivas Espinosa (VEN) in the final.

2019

  • Two wins.
  • One tech and one pin.
  • Outscored opponents 14-0.

Only one match out of five in two Pan Am tournaments saw the sixth minute (against Rivas). The rest ended way early in one-sided fashion.

Cutting highlights together provides a few examples that fitfully showcase how quickly Perkins can bulldoze opponents for quick, match-changing scores.

ravaughn perkins, 2018 pan-am

2018 Pan-Am Championships: Eye-blink arm drag, his back foot already in position, and an easy spin-behind. After this takedown, Perkins gutted David Pereira Barbosa (BRA) all over the mat for a tech. (Image: UWW)

ravaughn perkins

2019 Pan-Am Championships: Francisco Barrio (ARG) goes for an arm throw; Perkins deadens the attempt, scrambles, comes up and devastates him. (Image: UWW)

ravaughn perkins

2018 Pan-Am Championships: Drag; once again already in position; and then…boomtown. (Image: UWW)

Not every sequence from the feet in Greco-Roman has to be a cascading bodylock or flowery arm throw. Comfort whilst capitalizing on position, along with a merciless intent to score, can help escort any athlete who is willing to modify their arsenal to the highest reaches of the sport.

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