Rob Prebish is part of the coaching staff for the Cadet World Championships. He’ll be sending updates from Slovakia.
Day Four: FILA Cadet Worlds
Some observations from watching the Cadet Worlds: I have seen some pretty sick mullets that would make a Midwestern wrestling fan proud, a few crazy uni-brows and mustaches on coaches that are jaw dropping, and of course nasty cauliflower ears all over the place. We appreciate the cauliflower ear because it shows the dedication for the sport- the ultimate badge of honor. I have also noticed that coaches and fans begin shouting for passivity as soon as the opening whistle blows and coaches from a certain country seem to complain about everything. Although I do not know what they are actually complaining about, I wish they would just sit down and watch the wrestling.
Unfortunately one of our American wrestlers did not make weight last night. He got down to less than a kilo over and could do no more. I feel bad for the kid, but I am disappointed he did not manage his weight better. Had this wrestler attended our training camp prior to traveling to Slovakia, he would have fared better with his weight. We had a very structured camp in terms of technique, nutrition, and weight management. Club coaches should trust USA Wrestling and the coaches it selects to World Team positions as people who know what they are doing in all phases of training and competition. I think a guy like Shawn Sheldon- a two-time Olympian and many times Senior World team member, knows a thing or two about training and preparation. I know I am one to talk about weight management because I was a lot like our kid who did not make weight when I was wrestling, so when I see my parents after Fargo I will offer my apologies to them for the weight issues I had when competing. Go to: http://www.jbeonlinebooks.org/wrestling/ to check out my book “The Solitary Wrestler: Methods for Safe Weight Control” that I published a few years ago about my experiences with cutting weight for wrestling. It is a must read for parents, coaches, and athletes to understand why what we do to lose weight can be dangerous to our health.
I was extremely impressed with the Georgian wrestlers in terms of their technique, positioning, and ability to throw from any position. They looked good- I will definitely find a way to watch their matches from the tournament to break down their technique. Georgia is that good. Heck, every country here is pretty darn good. Like I said before, there is so much parity in Greco-Roman. What other sport can you see countries like Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Finland, Kazakhstan, and Norway (and Georgia) win World medals. The USA can be right there with the best Greco countries, we just need to find more international opportunities for our Cadets and Juniors as they prepare for the World Championships. Please email me at: email@example.com if you would like to discuss this concept with me. And now on to day two of Greco…
As for the wrestling, unfortunately day two of Greco mirrored day one: good battles but lack of experience hurt the team. Mason Manville won his first match but dropped a hard 5-2 match to Sweden. The other three all lost their first matches. Again, we must increase international opportunities for our young wrestlers if we expect to compete on the world stage. However, Tim Young found himself in the “good” part of the bracket- the top and despite losing his first match against Azerbaijan, he was eligible for the wrestlebacks when his opponent reached the finals. A tough 4-2 win over Finland put the Illinois wrestler in the bronze medal match at 85 kg! Although he lost 3-0 Young realized that he can compete with anyone in the world.
Thanks to USA Wrestling, Cody Bickley, Matt Lindland, Mitch Hull, Shawn Sheldon and everyone else who helped make this trip fun and successful. Now it is time to pack and prepare for the long journey back to Richmond, Virginia, where I will do a load of laundry, repack my bag, and get ready for another week on the road. Friday’s journey: Fargo and time to coach Team Virginia. Bison Turf here I come!
Day Three: FILA Cadet Worlds
Today’s theme for me is: remember the pants! During my first international coaching assignment in 2008 (FILA Junior Pan American Championships in Ecuador) I arrived mat side in my usual summer coaching attire: coaching shirt, shorts, and Birkenstocks. And I was promptly tossed off the mat with a stern “No pants!” from the mat official. I forgot the coaching protocol for mat side attire. Not this year! I am ready to go in my blue USA pants and jacket.
Dominick Demas got us started on the right foot with a quick 8-0 tech fall over Romania at 63 kg in the first round. But the U.S. was quickly brought back to reality, dropping competitive matches to Georgia and Finland. The style of wrestling here is much different than what most of the kids are used to back home. Greco is a much faster paced sport, especially with two minute periods. Passivity cautions fly within the first 30 seconds of the period. We are clearly in better shape than our opponents, but there’s lack of international experience at this level. How I would love to start a USOEC program at the middle and high school levels to get our kids up to speed in Greco.
Demas was the only first round winner on day one of Greco and followed up his win with a tight 4-4 decision over Switzerland on account of the Swiss wrestler’s passivity caution. The kid battled hard for the win! However, he ran into a Georgian buzzsaw in the quarters giving up a tech fall. In order for Demas to be able to continue in the repechage (wrestlebacks) Georgia would have to win in the semis. Unfortunately luck was not with us and ended our day.
There is so much parity in Greco Roman wrestling outside the U.S.; our kids need more exposure to European wrestling in order to be successful. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
Day Two: Weigh-in Day
Weigh-in day- the day many wrestlers loathe! The mad dash to shed the final kilograms in order to make weight and draw lots for bracket placement. Fortunately for our American wrestlers, a week of two-a-day wrestling practices and early morning runs put them in good position to not have to madly workout today (or tomorrow) to make weight.
Cadet and younger age groups often do not use the best nutritional or weight cutting strategies so Coach Shawn Sheldon and I spent considerable time having the team plan out their weight cut so their bodies would not feel any ill effects. Some of the kids were adamant about dropping their weight like they do during the high school season, but we were quick to put an end to the starving and suffering. Staying hydrated and fueled is hugely important to the wrestler.
Coach Sheldon and I got to watch last night’s World Cup soccer final with the German coaches; they were so excited when Germany finally scored a goal in overtime en route to the title. Everyone over here is a soccer fan. Time seemed to stand still during the final game, an eerie silence fell over the town as all eyes were peeled on the television.
All five wrestlers got through medical without hazard and then assembled in the training hall to weigh in. Weigh-ins, however were not anything we were accustomed to. In the U.S., weigh-ins are a smooth process- in Fargo over 1,000 athletes filter through the process in 20 minutes. In Slovakia, weigh-ins seemed to take forever. But when traveling and competing internationally we must remember not to sweat the things out of our control. Time seems to go a little slower here.
Time for a pre-tournament meal and to prepare the boys for battle tomorrow. They are ready but to be successful they each must execute their plan of attack and battle in every position. All five of our American wrestlers competing tomorrow are ready to roll. Time to bring it on.
Day One: FILA Cadet Worlds
Most first nights in a strange place I do not sleep well; I guess my body is used to the creature comforts of home. But after traveling all day by plane and a five-hour bus ride through the back country of Hungary and Slovakia the dorm style bed in the Hotel Alibaba was more than enough for me to find deep slumber for eight hours. The trip to Humenne, Slovakia was more or less without incident, unless you count the bus driver smashing out two of the side windows with the luggage trailer after over zealously hitting the brakes before entering Slovakia.
We were met with open arms at the Hotel Alibaba, the U.S, team’s home for the next few days. The Alibaba was bought by a middle eastern two years ago and was completely refurbished to give it a more modern feel as opposed the the “communist” look described by the staff that the hotel used to have.
After a team dinner at a local restaurant, the team retired for the night to get their bodies in sync with the seven-hour time difference from home. We had a great Sunday morning workout across from the wrestling hall to shake the lead out of the trip. The Greco team is a spirited group of individuals led by Mason Manville of New Jersey and Utah’s Taylor Lamont. The week at training camp at the OTC in Colorado Springs brought the group closer together as they trained, dined, and roomed together. It is amazing to see how close the boys have gotten with each other. While they come from all different backgrounds and states, they are united by the common goal of winning World medals.
For me, I am excited to be working with an American Greco legend (and one of my heroes) Shawn Sheldon. Shawn was a two-time Olympian and multiple-time World team member. I admired Shawn’s wrestling when I was coming up as somebody to strive to be like. And now I get to coach with him. I learned a lot of little things from Shawn about Greco while at camp which I will be able to use in what I teach to my kids in Virginia.
Today will be a training day, as well as working on getting our credentials. Tomorrow is a break weight day for five of our guys: Drew West (50 kg), Jacob Speiss (54 kg), Taylor Lamont (58 kg), Dominick Demas (63 kg), and Ethan Andersen (100 kg) and they will compete on Tuesday. The rest of the team will weigh in Tuesday and wrestle Wednesday. It should be a great tournament for the U.S. FILA Cadet Greco team.