SUCCESS

Men’s Freestyle Program Making Strides
Willie Saylor, Editor
 
 
If you measure the international efficacy of the US Freestyle team in terms of Olympic ‘Cycles,’ the last four years has been a tough pill to swallow. Historically, the US is second in the world in all-time medals behind just superpower Russia. But recently, we’ve hit a rough patch filled with disappointing results, coaching turnover, and internal conflict that prompted a back-to-the-drawing board revision.

The low point occurred when Team USA came back from the 2010 World Championships in Moscow with a dismal showing and no medals. The spirit of the wrestling program was in the dumps. Fingers were pointed and questions were aplenty.

The reality is, the writing was on the wall. Henry Cejudo’s 55kg Olympic Gold in Beijing largely covered up an otherwise horrendous showing. And the 2009 World’s weren’t much better as we grabbed just one Silver (Jake Herbert) and one Bronze (Tervel Dlagnev).

After an encouraging 2011 Worlds and a 3rd place finish in this year’s World Cup, things were looking up. In addition to the individual performances, coming into the London Games, many folks were curious as to how the team would perform as a whole. The results of the Olympics would certainly serve as a barometer for the state of the program.

The results are in. And the US looks as if its Zeke Jones-led Freestyle program is on the right track.

We claimed 2 Golds and a Bronze medals in London. Our collective W/L total was a robust 14-7.

The US medalled in three of seven weight classes, and made Top 7 in five of them.

Our 38 teams points tied for 3rd just behind Russia and Georgia who each had 40pts.

Beyond the paper results, the actual performances on the mat and the direction of the program has arrows pointing up.

Our guys looked well prepared and well trained. And, if the US Olympic Team Trials are any indication, it’s not just our ‘1’s’; we’re building solid depth behind them.

A couple of developments can be attributed to this, 1) the proliferation of Regional Training Centers and 2) increased training opportunities at the OTC.

Another step in the right direction was made two years ago with the institution of Residence Program by Bobby Douglas, which identifies talented youth and affords them an opportunity to train in Colorado. It’s now led by a passionate Bill Zadick who is doing a tremendous job to keep the treadmill of talent rolling.

If there’s a caveat, it comes at specific weights. Since 2006, when Sammie Henson won World Bronze, Cejudo has been our only other medalist at 55kg.

The conundrum at 66kg is even worse. Since Zadick’s 2006 World Gold, we haven’t had a medalist at this weight in six years.

The good news is that with three Olympic medals and two other near misses, we have a ‘program’ and not just a couple talented individuals. Two points from Olympic Team Champions is an amazing turn around any way you slice it.

Here is how we compared to other Top 5 nations in FS this year:
 
 
Nation
RUS
GEO
USA
IRI
AZE
PTS
40
40
38
38
36
55
1
2
15
8
DNQ
60
2
9
3
7
1
66
16
12
17
14
5
74
3
7
1
2
9
84
8
3
7
3
1
96
9
3
1
5
3
120
3
2
5
3
16

 

Here are the team results from the last Four-Year Cycle:
 
 
Year
Place
Nation
PTS
 
Year
Place
Nation
PTS
2012
1
Russia
40
 
2011
1
Russia
43
2012
2
Georgia
40
 
2011
2
Iran
41
2012
3
USA
38
 
2011
3
USA
38
2012
4
Iran
38
 
2011
4
Azerbaijan
37
2012
5
Azerbaijan
36
 
2011
5
Georgia
34
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2010
1
Russia
66
 
2009
1
Russia
63
2010
2
Azerbaijan
42
 
2009
2
Azerbaijan
48
2010
3
Cuba
38
 
2009
3
Iran
40
2010
4
Iran
37
 
2009
4
Turkey
27
2010
5
Georgia
21
 
2009
5
Ukraine
23
2010
23
USA
5
 
2009
7
USA
19
 

 

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