Now that the Cadets have finished up, the run of summer World Championship tournaments has come to an end for the US. It wasn’t exactly a banner showing for the Americans in Tbilisi, Georgia last week. Only one wrestler advanced to the medal rounds (Jack Davis), but there weren’t any trips to the podium. The odd part is that the US kids actually kind of, sort of acquitted themselves well, despite the results. Nobody got manhandled, no one got blitzed out of the joint. If anything, each competitor the US sent to the mat exhibited a great deal of potential. You could see it, provided you knew what you were looking for.
The difference came down to two factors: Nuance and know-how. That is the line of demarcation most of the time for US Greco athletes at any age group going up against international opposition, but in Georgia it was staring you right in the face. Was Andrew Chambal (42 kg), Malik Johnson (50 kg), Peyton Omania (63 kg) or Cohlton Schultz (100 kg) physically deficient in their matches? Not even close. But these kids do not have the reflexive instincts experience against international wrestlers provide. This isn’t a new story, we’ve been seeing it for a while now. Thankfully, Team USA is going through a growth spurt currently and there is a much more focused effort on honing in on where the country’s shortcomings are. However, we also cannot pretend as if we didn’t know some of this stuff all along.
Foreign opponents, with their considerable head start, just have the intangibles US age-group wrestlers, in particular, lack. They know how to get to the body, they know how to ease into angles to find better positions to score from, and they are also a little less tentative to take risks. This isn’t some rabbit hole that is too deep to understand. When your opposition has been spending all of its formative years practicing and competing in a style you only engage in a few months out of the year, expect to be behind the curve.
Are their fixes to this? If you ask the overseer of the program, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland, certainly — get them started in Greco younger. Or at the very least, mix Greco Roman in at times during American folkstyle season. Also — more opportunities to bang heads with foreign opponents for both Cadets and Juniors would be optimal, as well. We all know this, it has been a running theme for a while now. Hopefully, the last couple of weeks have shown why, although the Juniors actually enjoyed a solid performance as a whole in France. The Cadets were tougher to watch not because there weren’t any medals, but because you could see they had what it took in every other meaningful aspect outside of actual seasoning.
Northern Michigan needs a coach
Word came down late last week that 1993 World Champion Aghasi Manukyan stepped down as the assistant coach of the Northern Michigan-Olympic Training Site Greco Roman team. Manukyan had been in Marquette alongside head coach Rob Hermann since 2010 and has helped usher in the resurgence of the program that has come to light over the last couple of years. Undoubtedly, this is a significant loss for the student athletes up at Northern and for the United States Greco program overall.
On the flipside, that is a spot that needs to be filled ASAP. NMU athletes have just gotten back on the mat on a full-time basis again (not counting school, of course) and there are a couple of overseas trips on the docket. We will have more on that in the new Coach Lindland’s Report tomorrow, but needless to say, there isn’t a shortage of talented, capable candidates available to fill the role.
Those pesky Open Trials
So given the compressed time-frame in which the non-Olympic Weight World Team Trials have to be held in, one of the first questions was, What is the selection process going to be? After all, normally for any World or Olympic trials tournament, there are qualification standards. But that will not be the case this time, as the Bill Farell/NYAC, which is the event hosting the non-Olympic Trials, will be held as an open, because hey, that’s the tournament structure anyway. That makes all of this a little bizarre but potentially, quite interesting. Because you just know, two weight classes or not, there are going to be at least a few mystery entrants throwing their hats into the ringt.
It’ll still be seeded, presumably, so there will be a modicum of order. The guys you expect to be towards the top will almost certainly be there. The nails will get hammered, as they say. That being said, it should be a fun watch. And you never know, maybe there will be a couple of surprises in store for everybody.
What’s coming up here
- We will have that aforementioned Coach Lindland’s Report. We missed last week (so sue us) primarily because there was too much going on and it made scheduling the report difficult. This time around, obviously, the Cadets are a topic, the NMU stuff, and a question or two about the upcoming competitive schedule.
- More non-Olympic Trials announcements.
- An athlete interview.
- Phase II!