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Top U.S. wrestlers prepare for season at Winter Training Camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Chula Vista, Calif.

Erin Phipps USA Wrestling

The start of a new year can only mean one thing for top U.S. international wrestlers. It is time for winter training camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers.

Many of the nation's best Olympic-caliber wrestlers in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling are now in serious training at national team camps in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Chula Vista, Calif. At this time, over 110 athletes in the two sites are getting specialized instructions and are training with top workout partners.

The 10-day winter camp for Greco-Roman wrestlers is held at the USOTC in Colorado Springs, Colo. The focus at this camp is on volume conditioning to increase base conditioning, as well as physical fighting on the feet from the neutral position. The main priority of the camp, however, is par-terre, which is mat wrestling for both offense and defense.

Participants include the National Greco-Roman Team, all of the other top Greco-Roman wrestlers from around the country, and the athletes involved in the USOEC resident program at Northern Michigan Univ. Attending the camp are six of the seven top ranked athletes in residence at the USOTC in Colorado Springs, including:
- Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 55 kg/121 lbs.
- Joe Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 60 kg/132 lbs.
- T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 74 kg/163 lbs.
- Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 84 kg/185 lbs.
- Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
- Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Also included in the training camp are No. 1 ranked Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio/USOEC/Gator WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and No. 2 ranked Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif./USOEC/Gator WC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. In 2005, Lester was a World University Games bronze medalist, a U.S. World Team member and a U.S. Nationals champion. Wheeler placed second in the 2005 U.S. World Team Trials and second in the 2005 U.S. Nationals.

The winter camps help to prepare the athletes for the upcoming international tournaments, the Kit Carson Cup and the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament in the United States, as well as other meets throughout the year.

"We hope to gain a good attitude and a good kick-off to our new season," said National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser.

Kevin Jackson, the USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach, is using his first winter camp to prepare freestyle wrestlers for the upcoming Golden Grand Prix tournament. On Jan. 28 and 29, the National Freestyle Team will participate in the Ivan Yarygin Memorial International in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

The camp is hosted at the USOTC in Colorado Springs. Attending the winter training camp are No. 2 ranked Jared Lawrence (Roseville, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and No. 3 ranked Tommy Rowlands (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264 lbs. Lawrence placed third in the 2005 World Cup and second in the 2005 U.S. Nationals. Rowlands was a World University Games champion in 2005 and placed second in the 2005 U.S. Nationals.

Also training at the camp are No. 1 ranked Michael Lightner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 60 kg/132 lbs. and No. 1 ranked Mo Lawal (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 84 kg/185 lbs. Both were 2005 U.S. Nationals champions, as well as World Team members.

The camp, which lasts from Jan. 8-15, focuses on the tactics and techniques the U.S. wrestlers will need to face the Russians and other foreign competitors. To do so, Jackson states that the group will be spending a lot of time studying the Russian and European style of wrestling.

Because the wrestlers will have seven days from the time they leave the training center until they leave for the competition in Russia, Jackson hopes the camp will help the wrestlers know what they need to work on while they are at home.

"We hope to have finely tuned athletes that are prepared for competition with some of the best athletes in the world," said Jackson.

Jackson will also conduct a second training camp at the Colorado Springs USOTC from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2. Most of the other top freestyle wrestlers will be attending this camp in preparation for the Dave Schultz Memorial International.

The Women's Wrestling Team began their winter training camp under National Women's Coach Terry Steiner. The 10-day camp takes place in Chula Vista, Calif. and prepares the U.S. athletes for their upcoming tours in Russia, Turkey, Sweden and Belarus. In addition, athletes from world power Canada are also participating in the training camp.

Besides preparing for upcoming tournaments, the wrestlers will practice technique development and transitions from the takedown into the turn. Wrestlers will also familiarize themselves with the changes made to the rules of wrestling, such as a change in the match format to shorter periods.

Attending the training camp in Chula Vista, Calif. are No. 1 ranked Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) and No. 2 ranked Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Univ. of Regina), as well as Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Unattached). McMann was a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, a 2003 World silver medalist and a 2005 World bronze medal at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Bernard at 72 kg/158.5 lbs placed second in the 2005 U.S. Nationals, was a U.S. Nationals champion in 2004, and has won two Junior World titles. Miranda won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.

Also attending the camp are top ranked USOTC residents Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), Sally Roberts (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), Jenny Wong (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) and Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army). Smith was a 2005 World gold medalist at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Downing was a 2005 World bronze medalist at 67 kg/ 147.5 lbs. Roberts was a 2005 World bronze medalist at 59 kg/ 130 lbs.

The women's camp will also be a first for a number of younger wrestlers, many of whom have never been to an international competition.

"We have a lot of new residents in the program, so we'll be catching them up to speed with the rest of the national team," said Steiner.

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