Wrestler earns first at Sunkist Open

Laura Conway

The USOEC men’s Greco-Roman wrestling team had a successful weekend at the Sunkist Kids International Open this past weekend at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

The USOEC had one champion at the end of the weekend from its 55 kg/121.5 pound wrestler Paul Tellgren.  His match was a little bit of a grudge match against high school senior Jesse Thielke out of Germantown, Wisc. Thielke has committed to wrestling at University of Wisconsin-Madison shortly after the end of his junior year and is already planning on training at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo. for the 2012 Olympics.

Thielke and Tellgren had a heated match at the 2009 FILA Junior World Team Trials for the spot on the U.S. Junior World Team. Thielke ended up winning two out of the three periods (0-3, 6-3, 3-2). The finals match for the Sunkist International title went very similarly: first period went to Thielke 0-2, the second period went to Tellgren 1-0. The last period was Tellgren’s.

“The only thing I paid attention to going into (the match) was looking over to his corner my coach was like ‘Look at him look at him, he’s broken’ … I hurt his thumb and really tired him out.”

Tellgren said knowing he’d exhausted his opponent only gave him more energy.

“I was going to bang on his heat, really tire him out, before I knew what I did, the sag body lock just fell into play and he was on his back … those are the best kinds of moves the ones that just happen,” Tellgren said.

He got Thielke in a pinning combination early in the period and held him there for over a minute till he finally pinned his opponent at 1:18 minute mark.

“I felt so happy because I know I won, I knew that if I just stayed there … my only goal was to keep him on his back and make sure there was no more match … I knew I had to pin him or just wait for the time to run out,” Tellgren said.

Tellgren said he was extremely excited to finally get his big win, which he worked hard for.

“I felt elated; a confidence weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Tellgren said.

I’ve always had the confidence I just needed that final win to set me off.  This was the first tournament I’ve won here (at the USOEC) … my entire life I’ve been second and third and fourth, so it felt good, I have it in my mind now that I can and will be at the top,” Tellgren said.

This amazing match caught the eye of USA Wrestling’s head Greco coach and 1984 Olympic Medalist Steve Fraser who was very impressed with Tellgren’s improvement over the years and dedication to the sport.

“Thielke beat him before, so this was a big win for Paul; shows that he’s coming into his own.  Paul has a great attitude and work ethic,” Fraser said.

Fraser also said Tellgren is very coachable and wants to gain experience.

“He is willing to do what needs to happen to get things done, and that’s what we like to see in our athletes,” Fraser said.

The renowned Greco wrestler and coach came to Marquette to visit with the development program and talk to both wrestling teams about mental toughness.  It was a great presentation about athletes preparing mentally is just as important as being physically prepared.

Fraser mentioned that he was impressed with Paul being able to use his mental toughness to get past looking to Thielke before in order to beat him this time.

“I was happy for Paul, I think he overcame a lot at this tournament … Paul is progressing, so his sponsors will feel more comfortable supporting him over seas and at more major tournaments,” Fraser said.

This victory weekend for Tellgren has been a long time in the making, and its not going to end here.

When he was young he didn’t even like folk-style wrestling, what you see in high school.  He is so grateful for his parents packing up him and his brother to travel all over the US to get him to competitions and help him succeed.  He hopes that this year he will be able to “Sky’s the limit, I’m ready to bust out!  I think everything’s going to be mine this year.  I’m very excited about New York this weekend and of course Nationals in April.  That’s when it all will come together, that’s when all the hard work pays off, when my hand gets raised in the championship match,” Tellgren said.

Tellgren’s next step towards his Olympic dreams is competing this weekend November 6 and 7 at the New York Athletic Club’s Annual International Open in New York.

Senior Ben Sanchez and sophomore Tanner Andrews finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 66 kg/145.5 pound weight class. Junior Chad Hemerson placed fifth with an impressive pin in the second period of his finals match against Cameron Duckworth. Finishing second in the 96kg/211.5 pound weight class was Pete Gounaridis, a senior at NMU in his fourth year at the USOEC.