Greco-Roman finally has a team rivalry between the Army’s WCAP and the Minnesota Storm

Updated: April 25, 2014
boomBy: Mike Finn – When Justin Lester gave up a college scholarship at Iowa State over ten years ago to focus on Greco-Roman wrestling, the native of Akron, Ohio, also gave up something else: team rivalries within the sport.
For when it comes to this style of wrestling, the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which Lester and many of the sport’s better Greco wrestlers represent, the WCAP pretty much dominated the team competition when it came to events like the ASICS U.S. Open.

Just look at this year’s nationals, which took place in Las Vegas, April 18-19, and the Army’s traditionally-strong group featured three champions, including Lester who won the 71-kilo title and was joined by WCAP members Spenser Mango (59k) and Caylor Williams (98), who like Lester and Mango, competed in last year’s World Championships.

Williams, who defeated 2013 U.S. Open champ, John Wechter of the Minnesota Storm, credited the Army for helping him

reach his wrestling prime in Greco.

“The Army teaches you how to stay cool under pressure,” said Williams, who wrestled collegiate folk-style at UNC-Greensboro before joining the Army. “That’s the  problem I had in the past. Wechter is real physical and has a lot of smoke and mirrors. I would be over-zealous and over attack. This time I took my time and stayed patient.”

But the WCAP wrestlers, who train in Colorado Springs, Colo., better keep an eye on those wrestlers who train in Minneapolis, Minn. Known as the Minnesota Storm, two Greco wrestlers won championships in Vegas: 2013 World Team members Andrew Bisek (75k/165 pounds) and Jordan Holm (85k/187), who actually defeated another Storm wrestler (Zac Nielsen) for a second straight year in the Open.

“They’re trying, they’re trying,” smiled Lester, who defeated a Storm wrestler Patrick Smith for his fifth U.S. Open championship. “They have some solid guys. That’s what our country needs. We need different teams competing and driving each other.”

Holm hopes the new National Team coach, who is expected to be named shortly before the World Team Trials, will take note of what is happening in Minneapolis.

“I’m really excited to see who replaces (out-going coach Steve Fraser),” Holm said.

“Whoever comes in will see what the Minnesota Storm is adding. In the 1970s and ‘80s, we used to dominate.”

Leading the Storm in Greco competition are former World competitors Brandon Paulson and Dan Chandler.

Bisek hopes USA Wrestling turns to the likes of these two in the future.

“We need a different perspective (with the National Team),” Fraser said. “That would make a big difference.”