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|High School star Clodgo improves while training with the big girls at Northern Michigan|
By Michelle Thilges USA Wrestling
Erin Clodgo was sent to the principal's office in seventh grade after she decked a boy who threw a ball at her. The principal's suggestion was to participate in a sport to release her excess energy.
"He was suggesting sports like basketball, soccer and field hockey. The wrestling program had just started and I decided to go to open mat," Clodgo said.
Taking up wrestling proved to be a good choice for this Vermont native.
Clodgo now practices with the United States Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University. Unlike most of her teammates there who are college students, Clodgo is a junior in high school.
Clodgo's grueling schedule has her waking up every morning at 5 a.m. to pack for the day and go to practice, which lasts until 7:30 a.m. From there it is a walk to Marquette High School, where she attends high school classes until 1:30 p.m.
After returning to campus, Clodgo attends her second practice of the day until 3:30. She usually goes to sports medicine after practice until 5 p.m. Yet, her day still isn't over. She will do a cardio workout on her own after therapy. After that workout, it's time for her homework.
"I am a gym junkie," said Clodgo, who wrestles at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. "I love to train and workout. I would do it all day if I could. It's not fun to wake up at 5, but I like to train. That is the fun part."
USOEC head coach Shannyn Gillespie said it is beneficial for the 16-year-old Clodgo to be training at Northern Michigan as part of the USOEC program.
"Her strength is her physical prowess to compete and train at and above her skill level," said Gillespie. "She is strong against her opponents who are 21 and 22-years-old and national champions. I had the opportunity to train with her at the USOEC and in Fargo. She does well competing in practice and indicated she was ready for our program."
Clodgo agreed training with the older women is very beneficial to her career.
"The biggest advantage at being at Northern Michigan is to be 16 and training with college girls who are 20 and up. I am younger and still have room to grow," she said.
Clodgo has also had experience training with the men's team in middle and high school. In eighth grade, she started working out twice a day, once in the morning with the high school team, and then in the afternoon with the middle school team.
"Some of the boys on the high school team were crazy. They had some anger management issues. But there were four or five state champions. They were good wrestlers. They all picked on me and said I wouldn't make it. That only made me stronger," she said.
Clodgo has seen herself improve over the past year. This past weekend, she won the Body Bar FILA Cadet National Championship and the Body Bar FILA Junior National Championship in Colorado Springs. Clodgo qualified to attend the FILA Junior World Championships in Beijing, China, August 20-25.
"Besides going to Canada to compete, I have never been outside the U.S. This is big for me," said Clodgo. "There is something new each year that I never expect that I could do."
Clodgo won the ASICS Junior National title in 2006 and captured a silver medal at the Nordhagen Classic in Alberta, Canada last year.
Clodgo said she plans to finish her senior year of high school just as she has done her junior year at Marquette High School. Her goal is to then attend Northern Michigan as an undergraduate student and keep training. She plans to major in culinary arts, as cooking is one of her favorite activities outside of wrestling.
Missing out on two years of high school with her friends from Vermont has been hard for Clodgo, but she is making it work.
"I can't get hung up on being homesick. I just have to let it slide. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to be training here. I do miss my friends at home, but I have improved a lot here. More than what I would have at home," she said.
Clodgo has her eyes set on making the U.S. team for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and then some.
"I have been talking with my coaches about after 2012. I will be 21-years-old. I will still be young," she said.