CKWC Coach Sean Bormet talking to CKWC athlete Jake Herbert during one of his matches on Sunday. (Photo/Steve Krah, Special to MichiganGrappler.com)
By STEVE KRAH
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There was definitely a flavor of University of Michigan Maize and Blue deep in the heart of Iowa Hawkeye country during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials.
The Ann Arbor-based Cliff Keen Wrestling Club (www.cliffkeenwrestlingclub.com) had eight athletes taking to the mats — Greco-Roman grapplers Adam Coon (runner-up at 130 kg/285 lb) and Ryan Hope (85 kg/187 1b) and freestylers Jimmy Kennedy (fourth at 65 kg/143 lb), J.T. Felix (97 kg/213 lb), B.J. Futrell (65 kg/143 lb), Jake Herbert (86 kg/189 lbs), Logan Massa (74 kg/154 lb) and Kellen Russell (65 kg/143 lb) — Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10, at famed Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the University of Iowa campus.
“We want to be a premier training center for guys who have world and Olympic aspirations in freestyle and Greco-Roman,” CKWC and Team USA coach and U-M assistant Sean Bormet. “We have a lot of guys in the college program that have those aspirations so it is an important piece for us.”
While U-M wrestlers are at class, some of the other senior level wrestlers come from all over the country to hone their skills.
Bormet said the non-collegians at the gym ran by Mike Barwis, going through high-level training sessions for strength and conditioning. In the afternoons, these elite grapplers are in the mat room with the Wolverines and other Cliff Keen Club members.
“Having those guys who are at a very high level, we hope it rubs off,” Bormet said. “The younger guys are always wanted to be at that level. The more they can train with those guys, the faster they’ll get there.”
Why is Ann Arbor the site of an elite training center?
“We work with our administration. They’re on-board and understand the importance of it. We have the coaching resources there to train guys at a world-class level. It’s a great atmosphere and you need all those things.”
Bormet said the university embraces Olympic sports and wrestling is certainly a part of that commitment.
Speaking of commitment, Coon has put in the time in three wrestling disciplines — folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman.
“He’s actually been able to incorporate freestyle and folkstyle at that (Greco-Roman) heavyweight spot this year,” Bormet said. “It was a very natural fit for him because he uses a lot of upper body.
“He’s really good in all those positions. He’s got his goals and he’s locked in on them.”
Coon said before the OTT finals that he focuses his training on the kind of wrestling tournament that is next on his calendar.
“I’ve been concentrating all on Greco-Roman,” Coon said.
Bormet knows that wrestlers are on different career paths at any given time.
“After an Olympic cycle, every guy re-evaluates where they’re at,” Bormet. “They ask themselves, ‘is the fire in the belly to train and compete?’ If it is and they’re body’s in good shape and not too banged up from injury, they can go on. Sometimes age is a factor. Sometimes how you’re body is handling it is a factor.
“But the critical thing is to have the fire to train and compete.”