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Pivotal year ahead as new cycle starts


he 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, seem like a long way away. It seems like just yesterday when Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner stood atop the podium after winning Olympic gold medals this past August in London,

England. But this is a big year as we start the next four-year Olympic

cycle from 2013-16. There is an abundance of transition with many wrestlers step-

ping away from competition after the London Games. Past history indicates that the first year of a new Olympic

cycle often sets the tone for who makes the next Olympic Team. It happened in 1993. John Smith retired after winning two Olympic and four World titles. Tom Brands stepped right in and won a World title in 1993 as he made his first of three straight World Teams. He followed by winning the Olympics in 1996. Cary Kolat took over the same weight class from 1997-2000, winning a pair of World medals. In 2001, Cael Sanderson became No. 1 for the U.S. in a high-

er weight class and stayed there through 2004. He won a World silver medal in 2003 before capturing Olympic gold in 2004. The international experience those wrestlers gained by com-

peting in the World Championships prepared them to have great performances at the Olympic Games. The athletes that make the 2013 U.S. World Team will benefit

greatly from having all summer to train before competing at September’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. That can set the tone for the entire cycle, with an athlete reaping all of the benefits from competing on the World stage against the best wrestlers on the planet. Varner is a more recent example of an athlete who made

major gains after making a World Team in the first year of a new four-year Olympic cycle. Varner earned a spot on the

2009 U.S. World Team even though he still had one season of college eligibility remaining. Varner won two matches to reach the quarterfinals of the

Craig Sesker

2009 Worlds in Herning, Denmark. That experience served him well two years later when he captured a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. With those two World Championships under his belt, a confi-

dent and determined Varner earned an Olympic title in London. Don’t be surprised to see a women’s freestyle wrestler like

Alyssa Lampe take over the weight class of 48 kg/105.5 lbs. during this four-year quad. Lampe, a 2010 World Team member, lost a tough three-

match battle to eventual Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chun at the 2012 Olympic Trials. Lampe then bumped up a weight, since Chun was at 48 kilos,

for the Women’s World Championships in Canada. Despite being undersized, Lampe battled her way to a World bronze medal at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. Lampe is back down at 48 kg now, and she could be a force

for the U.S. for the next four years in that division. She’s a tough, hard-nosed, aggressive wrestler whose confidence has grown even more now that she’s won a World medal. Talented young Greco-Roman wrestlers like Jamel Johnson

and Caylor Williams are wrestlers who could also make a huge impact in this cycle by making the World Team this year. So even though Rio is a long way away, this is still an impor- tant year for athletes who want to make the next Olympic Team.

42 USA Wrestler

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