By NATHAN DEENMay 16, 2012
FORT BENNING. Ga. (May 16, 2012) -- If Dremiel Byers and Spenser Mango win medals for Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Olympic Games this summer in London, they may look back on two weeks of CrossFit training as a key to their success.
Byers and Mango, along with fellow wrestlers from the World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, paid a visit to Fort Benning from Colorado Springs, Colo., to train at the newly renovated Audie Murphy Fitness Center.
"This facility can go toe-for-toe against any facility in the world," WCAP head coach Shon Lewis said. "There's no other gym like it, and I've been all over the world."
Out of six available berths, Byers and Mango are two of three WCAP wrestlers who will represent Team USA in London.
"We've been getting after it and working hard," Byers said. "We're doing things right. You have to take notice of that. That screams very loud, that we have that many on an Olympic team."
The other wrestler, Jon Lester, had to leave midway through the training for business reasons, Lewis said.
Lewis said the majority of the training for each wrestler will be done on the mat until the Olympics.
"This (CrossFit) is very important for a foundation going into London. This training is going to take us all the way through London," he said.
The wrestlers typically trained from 9 a.m. to noon, going through a myriad of exercises.
Local personal trainer Lewis Fletcher and three-time Olympian and 1988 gold medalist Kenny Monday coached the wrestlers through the training. Monday is now the head coach of the Oklahoma State wrestling club.
"I'm giving them some of my experience of competing in the Olympic Games," Monday said. "They need consistent, positive and smart training. They need to believe they're the best in the world and focus every day on trying to get better. I'm just really impressed with their work ethic and the way that they compete. Every day it's something different.
"It's world-class training that they need. I promise you will see dividends, not only this year, but in the future."
Both Byers and Mango competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and both fell short of expectations.
"I was shocked that I lost," Byers said. "I went to the Olympics with the same style I always had. But you have to do more."
And he has. This year, Byers said a big difference in his training has been the emphasis on CrossFit training.
"I don't believe anyone is going at it like this," he said. "I believe my body is extremely receptive to this type of training. I know this is it. This is a total body workout. It hurts, but I'm getting through it. A few weeks of this, and nothing will be able to stop me."
Mango, who, along with Byers, locked up an Olympic berth April 21-22 in Iowa City, Iowa, at the U.S. Olympic Trials, finished eighth at the Olympics in Beijing. He said his game has improved in every way since.
"I'm more mature and a little older and I have more international experience," Mango said. "I'm just a more well-rounded wrestler."