Bob Johnson of Brookings, S.D., who serves as the National Chairman for Amateur Athletic Union Wrestling, is among the team leaders on the upcoming men's freestyle tour, where a team of U.S. wrestlers will compete in the respected Yasar Dogu International in Istanbul, Turkey.
The U.S. team will feature 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott (Chapel Hill, N.C./Titan Mercury WC) at 61 kg/134 lbs., two-time U.S. World Team member J.D. Bergman (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC/Ohio RTC) at 86 kg/189 lbs. and 2013 U.S. World Team member Angel Escobedo (Ames, Iowa/New York AC/Cyclone WC) at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. There are 21 top U.S. freestyle athletes participating on the tour.
Johnson's inclusion on the U.S. delegation is part of a larger dialogue between USA Wrestling and the wrestling leaders of the AAU Wrestling to build a better working relationship within the wrestling community.
"Bob Johnson and I became friends a long time ago. Although at times, it seems our organizations are competing in the marketplace, Bob's values are the same as mine about what's best for the kids in our sport. Bob and I have worked together when the AAU Grand Nationals comes to New Orleans every four years. We have talked about the growth of the sport and both organizations. Hopefully, this joint effort will bridge the gap between us even more," said USA Wrestling President Jim Ravannack.
"When I spoke with Jim Ravannack, we talked about the concept that we have to do more things together. This is a good first opportunity. It is a real honor for me. It is something I have never done before. The AAU is also honored and is pleased that I have this opportunity," said Johnson.
For USA Wrestling, it provides a platform to allow Johnson to see the full scope of USA Wrestling's programs. The AAU, as an organization which works with youth wrestlers, can better understand the wide range of opportunities that exist for all wrestlers through USA Wrestling. This expanded dialogue could create pathways that working together can benefit the sport.
"When we went through the challenge with the IOC regarding wrestling in the Olympics, USA Wrestling and the AAU joined forces on behalf of our sport. I felt that this tour was a good opportunity for Bob so he could understand what we are doing with our freestyle and Greco-Roman programs," said Ravannack.
"We like to think that wrestlers who participate in both the AAU and USA Wrestling are developing their skills. There may be athletes on this trip who competed in both organizations. Both organizations offer a lot of training opportunities for young wrestlers," said Johnson.
Johnson also has a friendship with one of the U.S. coaches on the tour, past World Team member Chris Bono, who serves as the head wrestling coach at South Dakota State University.
"We get along well. He is an outstanding coach. The recent performances by South Dakota State shows that he can get it done there. The athletes that he has recruited will start showing up nationally," said Johnson.
YASAR DOGU INTERNATIONAL
At Istanbul, Turkey, March 28-29
U.S. Men's freestyle roster
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Angel Escobedo, Ames, Iowa (New York AC/Cyclone WC)
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Joe Colon, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Panther WC)
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Dan Mitcheff, Lakewood, Ohio (New York AC)
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Erkin Tadzhimetov, Orem, Utah
61 kg/134 lbs. – Coleman Scott, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC)
61 kg/134 lbs. – Kyle Hutter, Norfolk, Va. (Titan Mercury WC)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Jimmy Kennedy, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Evan Henderson, Chapel Hill, N.C. (North Carolina RTC)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Jason Chamberlain, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC)
70 kg/154 lbs. – Adam Hall, New York, N.Y. (Titan Mercury WC)
70 kg/154 lbs. – Nate Carr, Jr., College Park, Md. (Titan Mercury WC)
86 kg/189 lbs. – Keith Gavin, Charlottesville, Va. (Titan Mercury WC)
86 kg/189 lbs. - Jon Reader, Brookings, S.D. (Sunkist Kids)
86 kg/189 lbs. – Chris Perry, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
86 kg/189 lbs. – Austin Trotman, Boone, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. – Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. – Micah Burak, Colorado Springs, Colo. (USOTC)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. – Enock Francois, New Windsor, N.Y. (New York AC)
125 kg/275 lbs. – Matt Meuleners, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC)
Team Leaders – Les Gutches, Colorado Springs, Colo. and Bob Johnson, Brookings, S.D.
Coaches – Chris Bono, Brookings, S.D. and Jamill Kelly, Stanford, Calif.
Medical – Dr. Jose Wiley, New York, N.Y.
Referee – Matt Fiala, Merrick, N.Y.
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