By RACHEL JACKSON/THE BAYONETMay 13, 2010
World Class Athlete Program wrestlers made a stop May 3-7 at Fort Benning to train at the Audie Murphy Athletic Performance Enhancement Center en route to compete in the 2010 World Team Trials June 10-12 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The team of 18 wrestlers qualified for the trials after taking the top spots and the Greco-Roman team title during the U.S. Open April 23-24 in Cleveland. This is the eighth year in a row the team has won at the U.S. Open.
"The competition (at the trials) is stiff," said WCAP wrestling coach Shon Lewis, who has coached for the WCAP team since 2001 and wrestled for the Army when the All-Army wrestling team was at Fort Benning in the 1990s. "The wrestlers are the best of the best - it will be war."
At the trials, the top wrestlers in seven weight classes will advance and earn a spot on the team and compete in the World Championships in Moscow.
In 2009, three WCAP wrestlers earned spots on the World Team. This year, Lewis is hoping at least four make the team, he said.
During their visit to post, wrestlers trained three hours a day, working on core strengthening and conditioning exercises, which included weight sleds, box jumps, woodchucks, rowing machines and sprinting.
"The training is tough, but we do that on purpose," Lewis said. "If we train harder than our competition, we'll be a step ahead. Wrestling is a gladiator sport. You have to be smart, have the endurance of a marathoner and strength of a power lifter."
Another important element to being a successful wrestler is being mentally strong, said 1SG(R) Lewis Fletcher Jr., who runs a cross-training program at Audie Murphy and helped the Soldiers train.
"We are trying to break them mentally because in order to be a world champion, you are going to want to quit, but you can't," Fletcher said. "It's the same concept on the battlefield. You can't quit."
WCAP's Othella Lucas said although the workouts are intense, she gets through them with self-motivation.
"You have to push yourself and focus," said Lucas, who will compete in the women's freestyle 158.5-pound division. "If I do that, I am good to go."
Lucas said she is confident her team will do well at the trials.
"We have a great team," she said. "We work hard and have what it takes to win - experience, training, and great coaches."
Glenn Garrison, of WCAP, who took first place in the U.S. Open 145.4-pound Greco-Roman final, said his goal right now is to make it to the World Team.
"I have always wanted to compete in the World Championships," the 36-year-old said. "I have come up short four times. I plan to train hard and stayed focused. I think I am on the right track."
The team headed to Alpharetta, Ga., Monday to practice on the mat and is headed back to Fort Carson, Colo., to train until the trials.