What better way to prepare to compete with the best than to train with the best?
It’s exactly what 80 of the top high school wrestlers from all over Ohio did this week at Delaware Hayes, getting instruction from Team USA wrestlers Tyler Graff, Pat Downey and G’Angelo Hancock prior to next week’s Junior Olympic Games in Greensboro, N.C.
The 80, including Hayes’ Thomas Ross, Ryan Chupko, Tristan Burton, Emmett Cain, Mason Sutandar, Corbin May, Clay Ours and Nathan Robinson and Olentangy Berlin’s Matt Kirsop, Kody Goffin, Corey Hill, Israel Foston, Ian Stokell and Caiden Hooks, make up Team Ohio. They’re set to leave Sunday morning for the competition, which runs through Friday.
First, though, they got to train with the talented trio from Team USA.
“They (Graff, Downey and Hancock) are three of the best our sport has to offer,” Hayes coach Kevin Rieman said. “They showed the kids techniques used at the highest level.”
They taught Rieman a thing or two as well.
“Wrestling is an evolving sport and I try to learn something new from everyone we host,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to have these top-level athletes work with our kids.”
Hancock, a three-time Senior World Team member, won the Final X and U.S. Open championships earlier this year. He also won the Hungarian Grand Prix and nabbed a silver medal at the Pan American Championships.
Downey, a 2019 Senior World Team member, also has Final X and U.S. Open championships to his credit this year.
Graff, meanwhile, was second in his weight class in the U.S. World Team Trials in 2016 and won a slew of tournaments himself.
The overall Junior Olympic experience — training with Team USA standouts and competing in the event itself — is special, Rieman, who has been involved with the program from many years, said. It’s a great experience now … and pays off down the road, too.
“Our athletes that make the trip tend to have a ton of success the following season,” he said. “Between the camp and the competition, the growth is really fun to watch.”