Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ohio becoming a freestyle wrestling power

The 2016 United States freestyle wrestling team could include a major Ohio presence.

The Ohio Regional Training Center, a Columbus-based club with a flourishing senior resident athlete program, demonstrated its depth at this past weekend's World Team Trials in Stillwater, Okla.

Champions qualified for September's World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The Ohio RTC's Reece Humphrey (60 kg/132 pounds), Keith Gavin (84 kg/185 pounds), J.D. Bergman (96 kg/215 pounds) and Tervel Dlagnev (120 kg/264.5 pounds) captured titles and world team spots last weekend. Humphrey and Bergman wrestled at Ohio State, Gavin won a NCAA Division I title at Pitt and Dlagnev attended Division II power Nebraska-Kearney.

The Ohio RTC formed in 2008 and it has been declared an Olympic Regional Training Center by USA Wrestling. Lou Rosselli, the top assistant on Tom Ryan's Ohio State staff, is the Ohio RTC's head coach. Ryan and J Jaggers, a St. Peter Chanel graduate and two-time NCAA champ at Ohio State, are also on the Ohio RTC coaching staff. J's father, Jeff Jaggers, is an assistant coach at Notre Dame College.

The Ohio RTC has elevated the state's profile on the national and international freestyle wrestling circuits. Ohio State wrestlers have access to the center's athletes, and junior Logan Stieber is one of the nation's rising freestyle stars.

A flourishing freestyle club also provides a recruiting boost for Division I programs. Penn State has won the past three NCAA titles partially because of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner trained at the NLWC. Olympic gold medalist and four-time NCAA champ Cael Sanderson is one of the NLWC's coaches.

The next three months are critical for the Ohio RTC. The International Olympic Committee selects its final sport for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wrestling is competing with squash and a combined baseball-softball bid for the spot. If wrestling doesn't make the cut, it could have a crippling impact on freestyle clubs throughout the country.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy


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