USA Greco

Now It’s Getting Serious: US Pan Am Olympic Qualifier Camp

Patrick Smith -- Photo: Richard Immel

March 13 is currently the most important day of the year for the United States Greco-Roman National program. It is not April 5, the second day of the Olympic Trials, nor is it August 2, the first day of Greco at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ever since the US came home from the 2019 World Championships without a single qualified athlete for the Olympic Games, March 13 instantly took over as “D-Day”. Each decision, each practice session curriculum, has been made with the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier in mind. That even includes the Pan Am Championships being held the week before, because this quad, you can’t have one without the other.

The circumstances were similar in ’16, when Frisco, Texas hosted both the Pan Am Championships and its associated Olympic Qualifier in back-to-back weeks. There is also one very important difference: United World Wrestling “Ranking Series” points.

If not for those ranking points, the US would be fielding two separate rosters — one for the continental championships, and one for the qualifier. But because points earned at the championships play a role in seeding at the qualifier, the American program is sending at least four of its six Olympic weight holdovers from the ’19 World Team to both tournaments.

What this plan of attack means is that preparation for the two events (held in Ottawa, Canada) has had to meticulously account for periodization concerns. The wrestlers have to be primed for top performance heading into two tournaments, not one; and have the ability to completely recharge ahead of the second, much-more important competition in a short turnaround.

And that is precisely how Pan Am Olympic Qualifier Camp next week in Colorado Springs has been structured.

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Earlier this week, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland explained how (and why) the camp is going to balance a compressed-yet-arduous workload with suitable opportunities for recovery and personal training time.

“We definitely need to hit a little peak there so we can go in there feeling really fresh and recovered,” Lindland said. “There is a lot of built-in recovery in this camp, and there’s certainly a lot of high intensity, too. We are a couple of weeks out from the event that we are trying to peak for.”

The peaking event to which Lindland is referring is the Qualifier, not the Championships. Nevertheless, attention is being paid to that tournament, as well, with the idea being to use what it has to offer competitively as a barometer prior to a week of focused rest. “We are not about trying to peak for the the (Pan Am) Championships,” confirmed Lindland. “We will train up to that and we’ll get the guys rested well for that, and then we’ll use that Championships as our final push with matches. The week of the Qualifier we will get on the mat and stay really fresh.”

It all points back to personal needs. Lindland and staff have spent much of the past few months in lockstep with the athletes in charge of qualifying, thanks in part to the rash of overseas activity to start the calendar year. Several of the US Team members have vocalized desires for more space to work on their own or in small groups, and this camp (as well as the previous one) is accommodating of that. Next week, wrestlers will be brought together for live practices in the mornings, but after that, it will be as close to free rein as it gets considering the circumstances.

“The camp the guys are coming into will be a lot more individualized. The mornings will all be under an hour for practices on the mat. The times and the positions we are going to go live in will take place that morning. In the afternoon, it will be a lot more individualized,” Lindland said.

2020 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier Camp

Monday, February 24
7:00am-8:30am — Breakfast
9:30am — Wrestling skills
11:00am — Strength training (Pan Am athletes)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Tuesday, February 25
7:00am-9:00am — Breakfast
9:00am — Morning briefing (Pan Am athletes)
9:30am — Wrestling skills
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Wednesday, February 26
7:00am-8:15am — Breakfast
11:00am — Strength training (Pan Am athletes)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Thursday, February 27
7:00am-9:00am — Breakfast
9:30am — Wrestling skills
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat/active recovery
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Friday, February 28
7:00am-9:00am — Breakfast
9:30am — MATCHES
11:00am — Strength training (Pan Am athletes)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat/active recovery
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Saturday, February 29
7:00am-9:45am — Breakfast
9:30am — Individual open mat
10:30am — Recovery (Pan Am athletes)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat/active recovery
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Sunday, March 1
Rest

Monday, March 2
7:00am-9:00am — Breakfast
9:30am — Wrestling skills
11:00am — Strength training (Pan Am athletes)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat/active recovery
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

Tuesday, March 3
7:00am-9:00am — Breakfast
9:00am — Morning briefing (Pan Am athletes)
9:30am — Wrestling skills (20/20/20)
11:00am-3:30pm — Lunch
4:30pm — Individual open mat/active recovery
6:00pm-8:30pm — Dinner

2020 Pan American Championships

March 6-7 — Ottawa, Canada

TEAM USA ROSTER

55 kg: Max Nowry (Army/WCAP, world #7)
60 kg: Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)
63 kg: Xavier Johnson (Marines)
67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
72 kg: Ray Bunker (Marines)
77 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
82 kg: John Stefanowicz (Marines)
87 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC)
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world #17)
130 kg: Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen)

2020 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier

March 13 — Ottawa, Canada

TEAM USA ROSTER

60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
67 kg: Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)
77 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
87 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC)
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world #17)
130 kg: Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen)

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