The Official NCAA wrestling season is over, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still wrestling going on. University of Wyoming’s freshman are still preparing to compete in this month’s U.S. Open.
The regular season concluded in March, when UW finished 17th on the back of NCAA finalist Bryce Meredith. But this is Freestyle, the Olympic and International style of wrestling—characterized by a more dynamic experience, a different scoring system, and athletic throws. The freshmen are competing for a spot in this summer’s Junior World Team Trials, one level below Olympic-aged competitors, and from there a shot at the world stage.
At practice, UW Wrestling Coach Teyon Ware leads a team of ten freshmen in practicing takedowns and rehearsing each of the many techniques that they might use during the tournament.
At this point, most of the wrestlers’ primary concern is getting their weight down and shoring up their technique. That means riding the stationary bike, practicing their takedowns, and wrestling simulation matches.
Nate Moore is a freshman from Weatherford, Texas who will be competing. He’s a 157 pounder, dripping with sweat and sporting cuts and bruises on his face from weeks of training. He described a typical day of training for the tournament.
“We come in every day, get a good hard drill in, get a couple match in, get some good looks, then condition for 15 or 30 minutes and get out of here,” said Moore.
Last year, the team had three World Team Trial Qualifiers at the Junior Level, including a national finalist, and the coaches are hoping to repeat the same success. So the training hasn’t been easy said Jaron Jensen, a freshman from South Jordan, Utah.
“They’re picking up right now, and once we get to a week out they’ll taper off. The weight cut is no problem, practices are tough enough to get my weight down,” said Jensen
There are 28 athletes on the wrestling team, and 10 of them will compete at the Junior Level of the U.S. Open on April 27 and 28 in Las Vegas.