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“It’s the perfect opportunity. I’m part of the U.S. Army and I’m get- ting to do what I love. It’s hard, wrestling is hard, but I’ve got a lot more people to do it for than just myself. ”

- Justin Lester WORLD CLASS

The U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program continues to thrive in the sport of wrestling

By Jason Bryant

While not the initial architect of the World Class Athlete Program based at Fort Carson, Colo., Lewis, a retired Staff Sgt., has become more of a mastermind of the three-style unit, which looks to put out great soldiers with even better results.


Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan can make the armed forces a tough sell.

“The biggest thing is when you say Army, Marines or Air Force, people think it means bullets and war,” said Lewis. “The Army has over 150 jobs. We do a lot of things. “This (WCAP) program gives the soldier-athlete the opportuni- ty to train and compete in the sport they’re notable in and they have a chance to make World and Olympic teams. Just because you’re in the military, it doesn’t deny a soldier a chance to make a team,” said Lewis. A California native, Lewis joined WCAP in 1991. Ten years later he was running the show. In 1997, a man named Dremiel Byers found his way into WCAP.

Sgt. First Class Dremiel Byers, from Kings Mountain, N.C., near Charlotte, entered the Army in 1994, three years after leav- ing North Carolina A&T, where he played football. A state champion in high school, Byers enlisted and his first assignment was as a supply clerk for a signal unit in Fort Lewis, Wash.

“I didn’t know they had wrestling in the Army,” said Byers. “I joined to help out at home. I didn’t have any knowledge about a team or anything like that.”

Then Byers decided to enter a wrestling tournament on base. “The right people saw me do good things and decided upon themselves to contact Sgt. First Class Tony Thomas, who was Continued on page 9

8 USA Wrestler

2008 Olympian Spenser Mango has made the last three U.S. World Teams. Larry Slater photo.

OLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - For years, the U.S. Army has proudly proclaimed you can “Be All You Can Be,” by joining its ranks. For Shon Lewis, Justin Lester and Dremiel Byers, truer words have never been spoken.

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