A pair of 2018 U23 World Teammates and former workout partners are going to meet head-to-head in October, and while there is no bad blood between the two, both promise to deliver an intense show fans will remember.
Travis Rice (IRTC) and Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS) have signed on to face each other at the third annual Next Level Opportunity Charity Wrestling Event on Saturday, October 6th. Held at The Poeta Training Center in Lake Forest, Illinois, proceeds will benefit the Illinois RTC helmed by Bryan Medlin. Just a few weeks ago, Rice officially announced that he was joining the IRTC as its first resident Greco-Roman athlete.
The match-up takes place during a critical stage of the training cycle prior to the U23 World Championships, which are scheduled to begin on November 11th in Bucharest, Romania. According to Rice, the timing couldn’t be better. That’s because soon after he and Miranda duke it out in Illinois, the main prep camp at Northern Michigan will be just around the corner. “There is enough space in between this event and the Worlds,” Rice says. “It’s right before the training camp for the U23 Team, so I think it works out really well.”
For his part, Miranda couldn’t agree more.
“It’s a good balance because I have a camp, this match, and then another camp,” he says. “Our match doesn’t conflict with anything so I am really excited about it.”
It isn’t difficult to underscore the relationship between Miranda and Rice. Before he returned home this summer to Illinois, Rice had spent the previous four years as a Greco athlete at Northern Michigan University, the same school Miranda still attends. They enjoyed plenty of scuffles with one another in the practice room and get along well on and off the mat. Furthermore, their friendly dynamic is actually what led to Miranda’s participation in the Next Level fundraiser to begin with.
“Bryan was trying to find an opponent for me and we were trying to think of who might be available,” Rice recalls. “So I just texted Randon and said, ‘Hey, do you want to wrestle me?’ He responded, ‘Yeah’, and that was pretty much it.”
But — even though the two athletes are friends and current World Team members does not mean there will be any mercy once the whistle blows. Wrestlers simply aren’t programmed that way. If they’re willing to throw each other beatings during training sessions, the idea that a measure of restraint would be exercised in a public setting is practically laughable.
“This is a match, and just like any other match, you don’t want to lose,” Miranda begins. “He’s a friend and we’re going to put on a good show, but at the same time, we’re going to be in Greco positions and neither of us wants to lose in those positions. I’m going out there to wrestle my match and I’m sure Travis is going to do the same. We’re both on the World Team and fans will want to see us compete at a high level. And after, we’ll shake hands, hug, and then go hang out.”
Once again, the counterparts appear to be on the same page.
“I like the fact that it’s a one-on-one thing,” says Rice. “There is no bad blood between us. We’re two guys who have a lot of respect for each other and are teammates on the U23 Team. We’re going to have fun, but it is still going to be a high-pace, high-level match.”
There is also the dress rehearsal aspect. Unlike the Seniors who just competed in Germany, the U23 World Teamers do not have a warm-up tournament prior to their main event — making the Next Level Opportunity fundraiser a reasonable substitute Miranda and Rice can use to iron out some competitive wrinkles, or to simply perform a systems check on their pre-match routines.
“We can go out there with a protocol of how the Worlds is going to be, how it will be before that first match,” observes Miranda. “It gives me a month to feel that, plus we get to put on a good show for Greco.”
In addition to Rice vs. Miranda, the Next Level Opportunity Charity Wrestling Event also offers two freestyle bouts. 2017 U23 World champ Richie Lewis takes on two-time NCAA Division I National champ Isaiah Martinez; and 2017 NCAA D1 titlist Darian Cruz goes against two-time NCAA All-American Zane Richards. Both Martinez and Richards are resident athletes at the IRTC along with Rice. The card features a lineup of high school all-star matches, as well.
3rd Annual Next Level Opportunity Charity Wrestling Event
Saturday, October 6th
The Poeta Training Center
28430 N. Ballard Dr.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
6:00pm-7:00pm — Food and cocktails
7:00pm-7:20pm — Entertainment
7:20pm-9:00pm — Wrestling
$100 per ticket (includes food/cocktails and the live broadcast of UFC 229)
$720 for tables of eight
All proceeds go to the Illinois Regional Training Center
Official weights have not been announced
Travis Rice — IRTC (2018 U23 World Team, 2015 Junior World Team)
Randon Miranda — NYAC/OTS (2018 U23 World Team, two-time Junior World Team)
Isaiah Martinez vs. Richie Lewis
Zane Richards vs. Darian Cruz