Women's Freestylers Building Unbreakable Bond Through Army's WCAP Program

Women's Freestylers Building Unbreakable Bond Through Army's WCAP Program

Bruce Robinson is building a women's freestyle team through the Army's World Class Athlete Program to take on the world.

May 6, 2024 by Kyle Klingman
Women's Freestylers Building Unbreakable Bond Through Army's WCAP Program

Whitney Conder-Cox remembers being the lone female soldier on the wrestling mats. Her participation in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) led to five appearances at the Senior World Championships, and silver medals at the 2014 Military Championships and 2019 World Military Games. 

The Puyallup, Washington, native wasn’t the only female participating in the program. Iris Smith, Tina George, Sally Roberts, Randi Miller, Leigh Jaynes, and Jenna Burkert won Senior World medals during their time with WCAP.

After years of low single-digit participants, that number has grown to double-digits. 

“It’s fun to see WCAP represented so well,” Conder said. “It’s fun to see how much it’s grown. When I got there I was the only female wrestler and now they have around 11 women. It’s just awesome to see.”

Women's Freestyle WCAP Alumni

NameCareer Highlights
Iris Smith2005 World champion, 2010 World Military champion
Tina George2002 & 2003 World silver medalist
Sally Roberts2003 & 2005 World bronze medalist
Randi Miller2008 Olympic bronze, 2014 World Military champion
Leigh Jaynes2007 & 2012 World Team, 2015 World bronze medalist
Whitney Conder2007 Junior World champion, 5x Senior World team
Jenna Burkert2021 World bronze medalist, 4x Senior World team

Taking Over

Bruce Robinson didn’t know what wrestling was when he was a freshman in high school. Now he’s taking the WCAP women’s freestyle program to new heights. 

“When people think of WCAP they think of the Greco program,” Robinson said. “I want to get WCAP recognized for the women’s program. That’s a challenge I took upon myself and something I’m working on now. I went to Shon Lewis, the boss of the program’s wrestling team, and told him I wanted to build the women’s program to where the Greco program is.” 

Robinson's vision for the 2028 Olympics is to have three of six women’s freestyle wrestlers on the team representing WCAP. 

His program motto crystalizes his ambitious goal: “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over.” 

Taking over will be a tall task, but Robinson proved he’s serious about building a team that can compete. WCAP sent five wrestlers to the final Olympic Trials but no one made the 2024 Olympic Team.

Current Women's Freestyle WCAP Roster

NameWeightCareer Highlights
Nina Pham50 kg2021 & 2022 NAIA champion
Areana Villaescusa53 kg3x National Team member, 3rd at 2024 Olympic Trials
Abby Nette57 kg2x college national champ, 2022 Senior World Team
Bridgette Duty59 kg2021 NAIA champion, 2023 Senior National Team
Brenda Reyna59 kg2023 NCWWC champion, 2021 Junior World Team
Sarah Savidge59 kg2x NAIA finalist, 2023 U20 Pan-Am champion
Adaugo Nwachukwu62 kg3x NAIA champion, 2022 U20 World bronze
Sienna Ramirez68 kg2021 NAIA champion, 2022 Senior National Champion
Destiny Rodriguez68 kg2022 Junior World Team, 2024 U20 National finalist
Jasmine Robinson72 kg2x Fargo champion, 2023 U17 World bronze medalist
Tristan Kelly76 kg2022 U20 World bronze, 2023 World Military champion

Top Recruits

Jasmine Robinson turned heads with her recent commitment to the program. Robinson, ranked #5 in the national pound-for-pound high school rankings, recently won her fourth Texas state title and made the U20 World team. She is convinced that WCAP is the right path. 

“Bruce is a great coach,” Robinson said, “My old teammate, Alex Liles, wrestled for WCAP and I saw great things out of her. Coming to Colorado and living with them was the best thing I’ve ever done so I think WCAP will be my new home.”

The program started as a way for members of the Army to pursue their dreams of Olympic and World medals. WCAP moved from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Colorado Springs in 1997 to build on the success that Rodney Smith started when he won a Greco-Roman bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics. 

Anyone in the World Class Athlete Program went through Basic Training or is in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. WCAP participants learn various job skills during their tenure but the main objective is to win World and Olympic medals for the United States.

Jasmine Robinson (left), Tristan Kelly (center), and Adaugo Nwachukwu competed at Women's Nationals for WCAP

“I want people to say that WCAP has a great women’s team,” Robinson said. “People know if you’re trying to sell something or if you’re genuine. If I bring someone in I want a relationship with that person on and off the mat. I want to help them in life — whatever that journey looks like. 

“You won’t get 100 percent from your athletes if they don’t believe in you 100 percent. It has to be 100 percent buy-in. We’re in this together. I want everyone that I coach to know that and believe that. When I pitch these girls I want to know their family because they’re coming to a family.” 

Robinson also insists on a strong relationship with USA Wrestling. Having both organizations in the same city means a strong cross-over between the two groups. 

“If we want to be great, we have to work as a whole and be great together,” Robinson said. “We have to work together as a team and I believe that to be true. Our girls are always at the Olympic Training working with those girls. The better we make our competition the better they make us.”