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Caden Sierra
Caden Sierra
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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

USOEC wrestlers head to Trials

For more than a dozen United State Olympic Education Center (USOEC) wrestlers, the quest for Summer Olympics gold continues.

Over the course of this year, the USOEC greco-roman wrestling team has qualified 16 athletes for the Olympic Trials competition held June 13-15 in Las Vegas.

At each Olympic Trial, the winners of each weight class go on to wrestle for Team USA at the Olympic Games held in Beijing.

Spenser Mango, an NMU junior who competes as 55 kg, said the inclusion of so many USOEC athletes is representative of a changing of the guard in the USA wrestling ranks.

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“I think it’s great for the program,” Mango said. “All of us young guys are starting to take over at the senior level-kind of pushing the older guys out.”

The greco-roman program at NMU started as a training facility for athletes who qualified to train with the national team in Colorado Springs. Now, the program is winning world medals and placing athletes at the top of national rankings.

Assistant coach Jim Greunwald, who would be wrestling at the trials if not due to a broken arm in earlier competition, said this is a big step for the USOEC athletes and the program.

“They have taken what we’ve taught them to heart. They believe in the coaching staff and they believe in the program. They do what we tell them to do and results have shown that what we’re doing up here is right,” Gruenwald said.

Head coach Ivan Ivanov and Gruenwald are the two founding coaches of the greco-roman program, and both coaches are themof the current USOEC wrestlers believe one of the top reasons for the success of the program is the experience of the two founding coaches.

“I think we have the best coaching staff in the country right now,” Mango said.

With less than two weeks before the Trials competition, the coaches are starting to fine-tune their athletes, while still being careful to not over train them and making sure they make the proper weight.

“Right now if our guys are going to do something stupid, it would be to over train. And we’re not going to do that as a coaching staff,” Gruenwald said. “We’re going to pull back the reigns. We’re going to let the horses run free when we get to the trials, but right now we’re pulling back.”

Three of the 16 athletes are ranked nationally in the top 5 in their weight class going into the trials (Mango, Joe Bettermana 60 kg and Harry Lester at 66 kg). Greunwald is confident those three will be wrestling for the Olympic Team in August.

Lester is a two-time world medalist and hasn’t lost to a single American opponent in four years.

“I am going to go out and try and put on a good show,” Lester said. “What I do is, I go out there and I wrestle, and try and make it exciting.”

For the other 14 athletes competing, Greunwald said it wouldn’t be a surprise if some make the team.

“If they bring their A-game and wrestle as well as they can, I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it an upset,” he said. “It’s just them climbing the ladder. Other people might see it as upset. Ivan and I see it as the natural course.”

If any wrestler qualifies for the Olympic team, they will be the first ever to come from NMU’s program.

Lester said such an achievement may provide inspiration for younger athletes and keep a bright future for the USOEC program at NMU.

“I’m hoping that they are seeing that if you listen to the coaches they are going to get you to where you need to be,” Lester said. ” I think that is the most important message for the young guys right now.”

themselves former Olympians. Many of the current USOEC wrestlers believe one of the top reasons for the success of the program is the experience of the two founding coaches.

“I think we have the best coaching staff in the country right now,” Mango said.

With less than two weeks before the Trials competition, the coaches are starting to fine-tune their athletes, while still being careful to not over train them and keep them at their correct weight.

“Right now if our guys are going to do something stupid, it would be to over train. And we’re not going to do that as a coaching staff,” Gruenwald said. “We’re going to pull back the reigns. We’re going to let the horses run free when we get to the trials, but right now we’re pulling back.”

Three of the 16 athletes are ranked nationally in the top 5 in their weight class going into the trials (Mango, Joe Betterman 60 kg and Harry Lester at 66 kg). Greunwald is confident those three will be wrestling for the Olympic Team in August.

Mango won two world medals including a gold and a bronze. He is the only American wrestler to ever win a gold medal in the University Championship games.

Betterman was second in U.S. team trials and took 5th at the Pan American Championships. He came to the program as a facility user.

Lester is a two-time world bronze medalist and hasn’t lost to a single American opponent in four years.

“I am going to go out and try and put on a good show,” Lester said. “What I do is, I go out there and I wrestle, and try and make it exciting.”

For the other 14 athletes competing, Greunwald said it wouldn’t be a surprise if some make the team.

“If they bring their A-game and wrestle as well as they can, I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it an upset,” he said. “It’s just them climbing the ladder. Other people might see it as an upset. Ivan and I see it as the natural course–with the young replacing the old.”

If any wrestler qualifies for the Olympic team, they will be the first ever to come from NMU’s program.

Lester said such an achievement may provide inspiration for younger athletes and keep a bright future for the USOEC program at NMU.

“I’m hoping that they are seeing that if you listen to the coaches they are going to get you to where you need to be,” Lester said. ” I think that is the most important message for the young guys right now.”

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