CaSEY GARRISON - After a long stint of being in the field for exercises and training, Soldiers peninsula wide were able to compete in the 8th Army Wrestling Championships Oct. 24 at the USAG-Casey Carey Fitness Center.
The 21-match long tournament tested Soldiers' strength, endurance and technique as some competitors wrestled up to 5 matches just to make it to the final round of the tournament not to mention the extraneous process to even qualify for the 8th Army wrestling championships itself.
Every area within the peninsula, with the support and guidance from Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports, had to place in the tournament held in their respected area. Prior to even competing though, all wrestlers, which is the same for Tae Kwon Do events too, had to have a sports physical clearing them to compete in the tournament.
The atmosphere in the Carey Fitness Center was filled with anxiety throughout the beginning portion of the tournament for all individuals involved. Two days prior to the match, all FMWR sports employees went to a clinic to help teach them how to call a fair match and what all the rules consist of for wrestling.
The FMWR staff was taught by two international clinicians on how to properly referee and judge a wrestling event. The athletes felt an equal amount of jitters and anxiety but none were as nervous or worried about the outcome of the tournament as much as Cpt. David Spangler, 1st Signal Brigade.
Spangler first joined the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old. Six years later Spangler left the military to attend the University of Iowa where he received three letters in wrestling and a commission in the Air Force. Once again he wrestled on the All Air Force Team for seven years before heading to the Olympic World Team trials.
It has been more than three years since the new Army captain has walked on the mat and wrestled before Saturday's competition due to a knee injury at the Armed Forces competition.
"It's great to be wrestling again. I wish more people would do it and see the importance of it," Spangler said. "I think every base should have at least a wrestling club, whether it is Freestyle, Greco, wrestling, or grappling. There should be a season with tournaments against other bases because to me wrestling is the best sport out there and the more the events the better."
Ignoring the pr-match jitters and pain in his knee, Spangler overthrew his opponents once the whistle was blown. If one of Spangler's opponents was pursuing to grapple the 1st Signal Brigade officer, Spangler had a reversal already planned to put his opponent on the mat. Everything Spangler did on the wrestling mat showed no signs of absence because of the dominance displayed from his performance. At the end of day, Spangler stood victorious, winning 1st place in his weight class.
"I have been wrestling for more than 25 years so my experience and training was my edge over my opponents," Spangler said. "At every level you have to step it up a notch. I learned that in college because I was always getting beat up. I just had to keep training to the point where I wasn't the one having to constantly defend myself and I could feel at ease while wrestling."