Greco-Roman wrestlers medal in Panama


SUCCESS OUTSIDE THE U.S.—NMU Greco-Roman Wrestling volunteer assistant coach Paul Tellgren poses with the three medalists Maxwell Diaz, Diego Romero and Jovan-Antonio Mercado. All three took home medals at the Eduardo Campbell Cup in Santiago, Panama on September 4. Photo courtesy of Paul Tellgren.

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

Three NMU Greco-Roman wrestlers medaled at the Eduardo Campbell Cup in Santiago, Panama earlier this month. 

Jovan-Antonio Mercado and Maxwell Diaz placed first in the international meet, and Diego Romero took home third place. The cup is a memorial to Panama wrestling legend Eduardo Campbell that was held on Saturday, Sept. 4. These international trips are only taken a couple of times per year, volunteer assistant coach Paul Tellgren said. 

“The guys are always mentally and physically prepared to wrestle internationally as well as domestically,” Tellgren said. “To me, it says a lot about the program because all three of these individuals, it was their first international tournament.”

Mercado won first place at 87kg, and had to overcome recovering from bronchitis, he said in an email. This left him having to use Bisek-SISU, which imposes physical stress with hand fighting so great that the opponent goes into a state of exhaustion and is unable to perform their techniques.

“My lungs were weak and unconditioned, I had to dig deep mentally to disregard my immediate personal problems and tap into Bisek-SISU,” Mercado said. “[The] NMU national training site has prepared me to thrive in this exhausted state.”

Diaz finished in first at 130kg, and the tournament was a blast, he said in an email. Going off of this, he also said that the wrestling room here is one of the best in the country, having him ready to take on that stage.

“We had great international competition and got to explore the world at such a young age, which is something many adults have not been blessed with the opportunity to do,” Diaz said. “I’m beyond grateful for the chance to train here and the opportunities to represent my country.”

In 60kg, Romero took third place after falling to the runner-up wrestler in the semifinals. In his first two matches, Romero defeated his opponents by eight or more points. 

“It was a great tournament with some pretty good wrestlers,” Romero said. “That match showed me what I had to work on, and I know I’m getting better because of it. Lastly, my goals moving forward are to practice hard and get better every practice, and to win the next tournament we go to.”

The results in Panama speak to the program at the NMU Olympic training site, Tellgren said. The three medaling athletes have added to a standard that’s firmly set in place.

“I mean our ultimate goal is to, first of all, produce good students and good young men, and secondly to put them on the world championship and Olympic teams,” Tellgren said. “The standard since day one is that if you wrestle here, you expect of yourself to be prepared to make world and Olympic level teams, and win the world and Olympic medals.”