When it comes to the senior international wrestling circuit, there really isn’t an off-season. Tournaments and training camps sanctioned by United World Wrestling can be found scattered across the globe at any given time. However, during the winter months is when the schedule really ramps up. Most countries are getting ready to peak for their own National Championships and gain an edge going into their own World Team selection processes. For the athletes in the U.S. it’s no different.
With limited competitions stateside for the Olympic styles, the majority of the world’s top-level athletes will venture internationally to see how they measure up against the world’s best. Our Minnesota Storm Athletes have filled their calendars for the month of February with some of the world’s toughest competitions and training camps.
Ivan Yariguin Golden Grand Prix
Jayson Ness kicks everything off at the prestigious Ivan Yariguin Golden Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. The Yariguin is arguably one of, if not, the toughest freestyle tournament outside of the World Championships each year. Ness will travel to this Siberian town with a strong group of Team USA wrestlers, including Olympic Champion Kyle Snyder and World Champion Logan Steiber. As this is one of the UWW Ranking Series events of 2018, it would be great for Ness to start the year out with a bang, much like he did after placing silver at the Paris Grand Prix in early 2017.
Serbia Dual/ Training Camp
Shortly after, three of the Storm’s best Greco athletes: Pat Smith, Barrett Stanghill, and Hayden Zilmer will head to Boise, Idaho. USA wrestling has put a strong team together to compete in a Goodwill dual on February 11th against a tough Serbian National Team squad. Consisting of a number of highly ranked wrestlers, these matchups should be a good early measuring stick. The trip will start with a one-week training camp beginning February 4th at the Suples Gym in Boise, ran by coach Ivan Ivanov, who was the head coach of the Olympic Training Site at Northern Michigan University and was very influential in the success of the 2007 World Championship USA Greco Team. He also runs his own business, Suples Training Systems, which is a sponsor of USA wrestling and specializes in functional training equipment for combat sports.
Granma y Cerro Pelado
A quick turnaround for Zilmer will put him on a plane to meet up with Freestyle athletes Zach Sanders and Daniel DeShazer in Havana, Cuba for the Granma y Cerro Pelado tournament. Competition will be held from February 15-23. Zilmer, who is the only USA Wrestling athlete currently to be on National Team for both Freestyle and Greco, will double dip once again, competing in both Freestyle and Greco.
During that same time, Greco will be wrestled in Denmark. The strong Scandinavian tournament Thor Masters will feature Pat Smith and Alec Ortiz. Smith will look to improve upon a bronze medal finish from 2017. Ortiz, who has been climbing the ranks domestically, will make his first foreign trip since making the 2010 Junior World team. Both will stay for a 10-day training camp featuring the strong Greco countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
Upper Weight Camp
Our upper weight Greco athletes will head to Colorado Springs to work with a list of strong international wrestlers and Olympic Champion and assistant OTC Coach Mohamed Abdelfatah. 2016 Olympic Trials Champion Joe Rau will head out from February 5-15th with NCAA Division III Champion Donny Longendyke and former Junior World Team Member Richard Carlson.
XXII Outstanding Wrestlers and Coaches International
The grand finale of February will be capped off by 4x Division I All-American Dylan Ness heading to Kiev, Ukraine. Storm fans may remember Tony Nelson making the finals of this strong tournament in 2017. Ness, who is coming off a strong bronze medal finish at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, will look to build his international resume.