4th Season, Column 4: Going All Upper Body; Left Coast Lunacy; And an Olympic viewpoint

USA MENS GRECO ROMAN TEAM READY TO BODYLOCK OLYMPIC SPOTS

As of the last weekend in April and a scant few months prior to Tokyo 2021 our Greco Roman team has qualified four of six wt. classes for the Games. The USA needs veteran 130kg Adam Coon and suprising, supremely talented 77kg Jesse Porter to finish top 2 at the last chance Olympic Qualifier this month in Bulgaria to get in. Odds are against them, especially it seems against Coon. The giant 3x AA and 2x NCAA finalist for Michigan was a Senior World Championships finalist his first time up on that stage, pinning his way to the finals and securing a Silver medal for the USA. For reasons unknown to this author Coon, and indeed many of America’s young GR stars, have seemed to shine brightest at their first international outings. Afterwards a disturbing trend of diminishing returns seems to emerge. Adam (on Instagram adam_coooon) did secure a 2019 Pam American Championship Gold(1) but since then it’s been slim pickings for the 6’5″ future astronaut. Its more likely that he will bring a medal home at the World Championships that will be held late this year after the Games. That is IF he can hold off our hard charging young superstar GR heavyweight, Arizona St’s Cohlton Schultz. Cited as a once in a generation talent and a wrestler who makes everyone around him better, Cohlton placed 4th at the NCAAs this year, his RS freshman campaign for the Sun Devils. Add that to his 3 medals in GR World level competitions before he turned 20 and his barely acceptable 188-2, 4 state titles record for Ponderosa (CO) HS, and you can easily see why so many people are still in doubt. Thats a joke, BTW. What’s seriously accurate is that the USA has really good GR big guys who need to show that several years running. Standing salty at #3 is Jacob Mitchell, who went the Clackamas (Oregon) CC/Colorado State-Pueblo route before linking up with the Army WCAP.(2) Ohio States Tate Orndorff will push to break through soon for us as well. The Buckeye, a Utah Valley transfer, was a National Runner-up in 2019 and a 2X United States Champ at age group level competitions. With all that high quality flesh Arbys is the logical sponsor for this weight class. At 77kg Jesse Porter came from WAAY back in the pack as he claimed our #1 spot from the 10th and last seed. There’s fascinating storylines attached to the affable Porter, and one of the more interesting ones concerns his sister, American FS star and wrestling Twitter personality/podcaster Alexis Porter. Big younger bro, a grad student at Northern Michigan, has been the top dog for the US at the U-23 level four years straight. Find him on Twitter @jporter_2015 and in Sofia, Bulgaria, in May as he, Coon, and FS 65kg American rep Jordan Oliver all attempt to qualify their wt class spots for Tokyo. It’s called the Last Chance Qualifier for a reason, folks. Wish them luck! The rest of Team USAs upper body bombers line up this way…60kg, Ildar Hafizov, WCAP. Thats SGT. Ildar Hafizov, US Army, thank you very much, former superstar and 2008 Olympian….for Uzbekhistan. This #StraightOuttaTashkent terror took multiple years off in the prime of his career to become an American citizen-soldier. He’s carried the Red, White, and Blue into battle since 2015. Can he medal? Maybe. He’s already won his biggest and best triumph, and you know what that was. 67kg: Alejando Sancho, WCAP. Sense a trend here? Our military men and women have been at the forefront of our World wrestling squads for a minute now, actually then some. SPC Sancho traces his roots back to a tough part of south Florida where Judo piqued his interests and helped put him off the streets and in the sights of a Sunshine State Hall of Famer. Albert Pardo terrorized opponents in the mid 80s as a South Miami Sr. High Cobra, going from there in 85 to graduating from SJSU in ’92. Pardo came home and built a juggernaut that ran 25 years. This real Cobra Kai was the 180 degree opposite of the movie version, as through a quarter century of wrestling intensity exactly NONE of Pardos wrestlers or teams EVER got bounced out of a dual or a tournament. No dqs, no flagrancy, NADA. In MIAMI? Are you KIDDING me? That type of discipline put Pardo right in line for his military stardom, and the now-engaged GR grappler is armed and ready to roll in Tokyo. You NEED to read this young mans story. Fortunately for you, the Website “5 Point Move” has it. Find it, read it, be inspired by it. Get a bottle of beer or a glass of wine (or 2) first, though. The creator/author of that site, Timmy Hands, makes the Scribe seem wordless in comparison. Did NOT say useless. 87kg: Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz, USMC. THIS guy is blowing up like a Joe Biden/Kamala Harris budget proposal. Back at Kennard-Dale (PA) HS, young John was a 5’3″ stringbean who never even qualified for the State tournament. 11 years, 7 inches and 70 rock hard pounds of muscle later, he’s now a 2x World Team member and the first Marine to make the Olympic Wrestling team in 29 years. Frank Bodani of the York Daily Register did the big local angle story. Of course, Timmy Hands had it at Five Point Move. AND the JD News. AND the Jiu-Jitsu Times. It’s the feel good story for USA GR Wrestling. Hell, even Fox News spread the Stefanowicz word. This column dropped a nugget on Stefanowicz in general and the All Marine GR Team in particular a few years back (2nd Season, Column 6, 11/24/18) and its ALL aboard now! 97kg: G’Angelo Hancock. He’s big, he’s bold, and folks who know Greco feel he’s our best GR medal hope yet. @OlympicKidd has been a standout for a while, winning medals of all sorts across continents since 2017. For a word or three on this budding USA Greco star, the Scribe reached out to a man credited with literally altering Hancocks life trajectory. Words written here and in many, many more knowledgeable sites say 2008 Olympian T.C. Dantzler helped clear youthful fog from G’Angelo and that Coach D delivered messages that resonated. T.C.(3) took charge of the Scribes request and laid out truths that this column is humbled and honored to share. About G’Angelos emergence in Coaches eyes as a force to be reckoned with, Dantzler had this to say. “There was never a particular moment, (but) there were moments within those moments that become more consistent. The difference between a champion and a bum is consistency. The difference is who can be the most consistent.” Coach D stressed it was both deeds AND words that defined G’Angelos aura, indeed that of all true winners. Dantzler: “As a coach you start to listen and see if they talk like a CHAMP. I don’t mean in an arrogant way. It is in the conversation. In everything they talk about you can hear the CHAMP oozing from every word. We CHAMPS all talk the same language regardless of what sport, what discipline, what career”. As to Hancocks mindset, Coach D said just give the 97kg rep a ring, “His message says Hello, you have reached the Champ.” When quality meets confidence, GOOD THINGS, MAN. GOOD THINGS.(4) Even more good things from Coach Dantzler next column as the NIU Hall of Famer and 5 time USA World Team member drops more truth nuggets. Can’t put all the hot takes in 1 column…

WHAT THE HELLS GOIN ON AROUND HERE?

Vince Lombardi to his beloved football team when things were just a little bit off. Can’t imagine what he’d have to say about West Coast D1 wrestling these days. The Stanford situation remains a mystery with too many clues. REMEMBER the Twitter sites, @KeepStanfordWRE and @36SportsStrong, and sign the petition. Be respectful. Be LOUD. And, if you can, be generous. As to Fresno St., perhaps the most telling statement in the tale of the Bulldogs fate is the return of their former assistant coach Jason Chamberlain to his home state of Utah. As the newly minted assistant for the Utah Valley Wolverines. Also out of Fresno and on to other teams, All American Kyle Parco, now an Arizona State Sun Devil going forward. Greg Gaxiola did a Grad year while wrestling for Hofstra, and Jackson Hemauer donned a Northern Colorado singlet this past season. Touted Hvt. AJ Nevills is set to be an SDSU Jackrabbit after sitting out some time as an Olympic hopeful. It’s just a sad thing. The financial numbers quoted by Fresno, both the unexpectedly high program costs and the 300% revenue deficit, are very disturbing misjudgements if accurate. There’s been NO news of late, legal or otherwise, about the torched program at Boise St. OR the spectacular faceplant the Broncho Athletic Department suffered this season when it chopped 3 MORE sports. BTW, one of them, Baseball, was singled out as a MAIN reason for the elimination of wrestling. The only worse decision coming out of the Spud State of late is a loony left law, under SERIOUS consideration, the sole purpose of which is to whack Idahos wolf population down to extinction level numbers. Without its pristine pre-Industrial Age American landscape AND the magnificent Flora AND Fauna that tenuously exist there now, “Idaho IS what America WAS” will ring as hollow as a bug blighted tree trunk.(5)

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

(1) Cuba and some of the South American nations provide the stiffest resistance here.

(2) World Class Athlete Program, where the best of our military athletes get better. Kudos, too, to Clackamas for their 3rd straight NJCAA title and the fourth under 15 year Head Coach Josh Rhoden. Just 5.5 points back, Coach Art Castillos Western Wyoming Mustangs, who incredibly placed all ten athletes in the top eight. Thats the first time EVER at the NJCAA level.

(3) How could he go wrong with THESE initials?😉

(4) Yet another TV commercial campaign reference. Look up Dennis Hoppers turn as a SLIGHTLY left of normal Referee in a set of Nike NFL spots back in the 90s. OK, NOTHING left. Of normal, that is.

(5) A decades worth of “We’ll get there someday” gave way to an epic 8 day experience in Harrison on the shores of Lake Coeur D’ Alene in the late summer of 2016. North to the Canadian border, with roadside bears in pairs and bags of fresh Huckleberries. West to Spokane, WA, the Gonzaga experience, the waterfront, the stunning architecture of 100 year old estates and modern mega mansions. East to the Montana border and the endless history written in the hills. The Route of the Hiawatha, a Rails to Trails trip you must take. The waterfront, farmers markets and old/new World ambiance of lakefront towns. And morning after morning awakenings to buzzing bees and the sights and sounds of quail and wild turkeys. Oh Idaho, please don’t go. Stay the way you ARE. The way we WERE.