USOEC prepares for Olympics with Kiki Cup

Laura Conway

The Kiki Cup Greco-Roman Duals were held on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

February 2-4, they will wrestle at the Dave Schultz International Tournament.

Seven athletes from the USOEC were chosen to be members of team USA: seniors Paul Tellgren and Zach Nielsen, juniors Mark Stenberg and Josh Castellano, and sophomores Toby Erickson, Max Nowry and Kendrick Sanders.

Four teams attended this competition from the United States as well as a team from Italy, India and Spain.
Nielsen said the dual was great preparation for the international tournament later on this week.

“The Kiki Cup was a big help toward me making weight; I won’t have to cut much at all now,” Nielsen said. “This dual is great because there isn’t a lot of pressure, just good competition between friendly countries.”

Nielsen said athletes have to get used to the higher elevation in Colorado Springs; if they don’t get used to it in time they could perform poorly. Wrestling in the Kiki Cup helped him get used to training at the different elevations a lot faster.

“I’m acclimated to the elevation now, so I will perform better for the Dave Schultz and I’m excited to see how I do,” Nielsen said.

In the match against India, the United states had six victories from USOEC athletes. Most matches were won in two periods; at 84 kg Stenberg beat Manoj Kumar, at 66 kg Castellano beat Sandeep Yadav and Sanders also won his match against Rajinder Chikara at 74 kg.

Nowry went the full three periods with Joginder Signh but ended up winning 1-2, 6-0, 2-0. Erickson won both matches he had against India; one against Pal Risi 3-0, 7-0, and one against Dharmender Dalal 3-2, 1-0.

Against Spain the USOEC athletes had four victories; one each from Castellano, Sanders, Nielsen and Erickson. After the first period of his match against Andres Bernardino ended 4-3, Erickson was able to pin his opponent in the last 40 seconds of period two, ending the match.

Even though he bumped up a weightclass to compete in more matches, Nielsen said he performed well.
“My second match especially felt good,” Nielsen said. “I hit a nice headlock then outlasted him for the win.”

The last dual for the evening was against the team from Italy. Tellgren won in three periods against Fedrico Manea, 1-0, 0-7 and 1-0. Also going all three periods was Erickson, who wrestled and won a close match against Daniele Ficara, 0-1, 1-0 and 1-0.

The USOEC Greco-Roman team will be staying in Colorado Springs through the end of the week to participate in the Dave Schultz Memorial international tournament.

Schultz was an American wrestler whose life was taken prematurely in 1996. This tournament is hosted in his honor of his love of the sport and the international companionship he made through it.

Weigh-ins for the Greco-Roman athletes will be Friday, Feb. 3 and wrestling begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.