MARQUETTE– The United States Olympic Education Center hosted a Greco-Roman dual against Marine Corps and Japanese wrestlers March 16 at Westwood High School in Ishpeming, Mich.
Northern University Michigan junior Aaron Briggs (Tucson, Ariz.) started the competition by defeating Jordan Dewald (Marine Corps) at 74 kilograms. Briggs took the match in two rounds after holding Dewald scoreless.
Senior Paul Tellgren (Anoka, Minn.) defeated Bobby Phelps (Marine Corps) at 55 kg. Tellgren took the first round with a tech fall and followed with a 5-1 victory in the second to take the match.
“Having the community, friends and family here for support is huge,” said Tellgren. “I had more amplitude throws than usual so the crowd was a definite motivator.”
Sophomore Tanner Andrews (North Aurora, Ill.) was defeating John Cox (Marine Corps) at 66 kg in the second round when an injury forced Cox to forfeit.
Sophomore Chris Michael (North Olmstead, Ohio) defeated Stephen Baynes (Marine Corps) at 120 kg. Michael defended his lead in the second round to take the match.
Fumiya Itakura (Japan) defeated senior Ben Sanchez (Leominster, Mass) and junior Bo Beckman (Orem, Utah) at 66 kg. After losing the first round 4-2, Beckman claimed the second with a 6-0 score. Itakura won the third round to claim the match.
“I enjoyed the experience wrestling here [at the competition],” said Itakura. “It was good competition.”
Itakura’s teammate Kazuki Suzuki (Japan) also walked away victorious after defeating freshman Dmitry Ryabchinskiy (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in two rounds.
Junior Chad Hemerson (Monterey, Calif.) defeated Jordan Dewald (Marine Corps) at 74 kg. Hemerson held Dewald scoreless to win in two rounds.
Sophomore Thrasher Porcher (Winter Springs, Fla.) and juniors Ryan Hope (Carol Stream, Ill.) and Zac Nielson (Zimmerman, Minn.) lost to their opponents in two rounds.
In the last match of the night, junior Alex Fleming (Sterling, Va.) was defeated by Don Simmons (Marine Corps).
“I wrestled Simmons, who competes at 84 kg, and I’m at 66 kg,” said Fleming. “I had to adjust to the huge weight difference, but it was great to have a challenge like that.”
The Marines Corps team traveled from their base in Camp Lejeune, N.C. to train and compete with USOEC wrestlers.
“We want to compete against the best to be the best,” said Marine Corps head coach Dan Hicks. “It’s worth the 23-hour car ride.”
The competition also included high school prospects Sam Jones (Metairie, La.) and Isaiah Verona (Southdade, Fla.). Jones held Verona scoreless in two rounds to claim the match.
“It’s a really great experience to train at the USOEC. The wrestlers all have really solid technique and have pushed me to have perfect position,” said Jones. “Having an audience was great, too. There aren’t usually a lot of fans to perform in front of.”
Among the crowd were members of the Westwood Youth Wrestling club.
“My son has been wrestling for seven years and was very excited to watch the USOEC wrestlers so he could learn new moves,” said Jennifer Villeneuve of Ishpeming.
“I want to learn how to pick up my opponent and throw him over my shoulder when I get older,” said 10-year old Dylan.
USOEC wrestlers compete next at the U.S. Open Nationals April 7-9 in Cleveland, Ohio.
“This competition helps us prepare for nationals. Having community support and getting a crowd at the competition meant a lot,” said USOEC coach Rob Hermann.