Why the International Styles of Wrestling Are So Important (by John Gartiser)


Over the years I feel it has been harder and harder to get our (I mean “our” in terms of NYS wrestlers, though it could be noted across the nation as well) top end wrestlers competing in Freestyle and Greco Roman.  In my opinion, these two styles, the International Styles, are extremely important for athletes to reach their full potential in the sport of wrestling.  I will cover some of the basic points on why the International Styles are so beneficial to young wrestlers.  My hope is to grab the attention of the local athletes and other NYS wrestlers to increase their knowledge and outlook on Freestyle and Greco Roman participation.  I will list the benefits of these styles below.

1. Exciting style of wrestling

Jordan Burroughs, http://www.phototrens.com

With the new rule changes, more than ever, Freestyle and Greco Roman promote scoring but also make an easier transition for an American Folkstyle wrestler.  What is the most exciting point (no pun intended) in a match?  It’s usually when a wrestler is scoring or when there is a long scramble where two wrestlers are trying to score.  That’s what makes the sport exciting!  Excitement is what our sport needs in order to thrive on a grand scale like other major sports.  Freestyle and Greco Roman reward the aggressive wrestler and the competitor who is looking to score points and there are more opportunities to score.   That is a good formula for participant and, maybe more importantly, fan excitement.

2. Sharpens your technique

One of the biggest advantages I see to wrestling Freestyle and Greco Roman is the ability to expose your weaknesses from the neutral position.  I commonly tell my athletes that in Freestyle if you are not scoring there’s a good chance you are being scored on.  Your inability and weaknesses on finishing your shots are demonstrated.  If you are in on a leg attack and don’t finish effectively, your opponent will be in position to score on you and off your attack.

In Freestyle, the wrestler does not need complete control in order to score.  From a defensive position, it is very common to expose an offensive wrestler’s back 90 degrees for a 2 or 3-point move.  Knowing this, you MUST work on your set ups and finishes for all your offensive leg attacks.

In Folkstyle, the ability to get to a single leg attack and grapple to a stalemate does not negatively reinforce a wrestler enough to make him truly focus on a technical deficiency on leg attack finishes. Furthermore, you can actually see wrestlers USE this stalemate position to BURN time off a clock to eke out a close match.  In a Freestyle competition, your ability to “eke” out that victory can become counterproductive very quickly.  A Freestyle mindset emphasizes what makes wrestling exciting, a scoring style of wrestling! This type of attitude should be brought to the mat every time you step out there to practice or compete.

Another aspect of technique to be sharpened through Freestyle and Greco Roman relates to the Par Terre position (wrestling on the mat).  I will use Greco Roman wrestling as an example here.  A lot of the scoring from the top position we see in high school and college wrestling today has roots in the International Styles.   I feel a lot of the tilts that are popular today can be linked to and have correlations to gut wrenches in Freestyle, and more prominently, in Greco Roman wrestling.  Being able to roll across your own back to secure future back points is not always the easiest thing for a new wrestler to comprehend and be able to perform in a match situation.  In Greco Roman, this is one of the main ways you can score points.  You have to conquer this fear and master the positioning of hips and leverage in order to score from the top position.  This in turn (again, no pun intended), gives a wrestler a huge advantage over top competition nationwide.   These moves allow wrestlers to learn how to use proper leverage and momentum in order to expose their opponent.

I think the most common counter argument people pose to the so-called negatives of Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling technique is seen from the bottom position.  One of the more frequently used bottom techniques in both International Styles is the “big bird” position — in laymen’s terms, flattening your body out and moving your hips so you don’t get turned.  (It’s actually a much more in-depth technique to learn than it sounds).  If a wrestler were to do this in Folkstyle, they would be warned/called for stalling.  But the “big bird” position can help improve a wrestler’s bottom wrestling in Folkstyle because in reality, it teaches wrestlers to adjust based on the momentum and leverage the top wrestler is trying to use to turn them and expose their backs.

Another one of the more important aspects that the International Styles promote is a break from Folkstyle training.  It’s a good pressure release and allows good Folkstyle wrestlers to open up their minds and start to learn and get used to new or different positions.  I’ve seen terrible wrestlers on bottom in Folkstyle actually get better by not constantly practicing it.  Sometimes in order to see the proper gains, your mind needs a break and needs to gear things in a different direction.  Sometimes it actually is better to not beat a dead horse.

3. The Right Mindset

Freestyle and Greco Roman offer our wrestlers an opportunity to participate on the largest stage possible – the world levels.  Only in Freestyle and Greco Roman do we have an opportunity to compete internationally.  Too many of our athletes look at section and state titles as the pinnacle of high school wrestling when, indeed, they should be shooting for much more.

The largest tournament (numbers wise) in the world today, on any level, is the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.  The tournament is better known as “Fargo”.  I will touch more on this event in my last point of interest.  Fargo is the #1 recruiting ground for college coaches and it has the nation’s top competitors battle it out over 2 to 3 days of grueling action.  The grind mimics many college tournaments, such as the NCAA Division 1 Championships.

Only the country’s top wrestlers will rise to the occasion and come out on top at Fargo.   It now makes sense why this tournament is a college coach’s ideal setting for finding future champions.  The Freestyle and Greco Roman Nationals seem to be the best indicator of future success for young athletes. Don’t believe me?  Ironically enough, this video was recently posted on Flowresting.com with Zack Esposito (see here).

For the top wrestlers in the United States, national titles are seen as a stepping-stone to compete at the world level.   I’m almost positive if we asked the majority of our wrestlers locally and even nationwide what the FILA Cadet event is, the majority would not know.  (It is a national tournament held to determine who will represent the United States in the FILA Cadet World Championships).

FILA is the worldwide governing body of wrestling. The FILA Cadets saw a 14-year absence but began again in 2011.  Through Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling, our athletes now have the opportunity to compete for a world title!  I believe the fact that the great majority of young wrestlers don’t know this is a major problem.   I feel it is extremely important for every athlete to shoot for the pinnacle in any sport they participate in, as well as in life.


4. The Numbers Don’t Lie

July 13, 2013 — Fargo, ND. This is home of high school wrestling’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.  Nowhere else are you going to have 120+ wrestlers in a single weight class, 3,000 competitors under the same roof (dome is more appropriate here) battling it out for the convenient “Stop Sign”.  According to Flowrestling.com if you look at the Top 5 wrestlers in each weight class nationally (70 wrestlers), 50 are scheduled to compete. If those numbers aren’t staggering enough, let’s say Folkstyle is your favorite style of wrestling.  Let’s say Division 1 All-American and National Champion are the goals you wrote down all those years ago.  Here’s a statistic that will put your odds of achieving that goal much higher: Qualify for Fargo and compete in the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships. Why you ask?  Because 83% of all U.S.-born NCAA Division 1 All-Americans from 2006-2013 took the mat in Fargo (68% of them were Freestyle and/or Greco All Americans) and produced 75% of the NCAA National champions.

(Credit Willie Saylor from Flowrestling.com for some of these statistics and figures)


Wrestlers Complete Triple Crowns and Many Achieve Double Titles at the Freestyle and Greco State Championships

(For information and results from Saturday’s competition in Junior Freestyle and Cadet Greco, see this link. Videos will be posted in the next few days).

It isn’t easy to earn the Triple Crown in New York, capturing state titles in all three styles of wrestling.  But you might think otherwise when looking at the results from this weekend’s action at Broome Community College, as four grapplers (William Koll, Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Kevin Thayer and Burke Paddock) added Freestyle and Greco Roman crowns to the championships they won in folkstyle back in February in Albany.

Paddock vs Smythe, Photo by BV

The quartet of wrestlers all demonstrated dominance on Sunday in Junior Greco competition. Both Thayer (152) and Paddock (160) faced the same opponent in the title bout as they did on Saturday in Freestyle.  This time, both made quick work of their foes, picking up first period pins.  And speaking of rematches, Rodriguez-Spencer (138) not only defeated Sean O’Hagan in the finals for the second straight day, he also did it by the same score – 5-0, 6-0.  Koll also won in straight periods, taking a 2-0, 11-4 triumph against Blake Retell at 132.

Those wrestlers weren’t the only double champions over the weekend.  Both ATWA’s Matthew Morris (120) and Reggie Williams (195) swept both Olympic styles in Binghamton.

On Saturday, Golan Cohen (113) and Rocco Russo (145) made the title bout in Freestyle, but took second place.  One day later, both returned to the finals and came out on top, with Russo’s victory coming by fall.

It was one of many titlewinning pins on the day, including by Sam Eagan at 220 and Jeff Urbina at 285.  In addition, Beat the Streets collected a pair of Junior Greco titles at 106 (Dolan McColgan) and 126 (Cheick Ndiaye), while crowns were also captured by Andrew Psomas of Farrell Lions at 170 and James Schreck of Sachem 3 at 182.

While there were a number of double champions in the Junior division, as discussed previously, there were more in the Cadet brackets, with 10 wrestlers grabbing a pair of titles over the weekend.

The first three classes were won by Drew Schafer (88), Brian Kelly (94) and Vinny Vespa (100).  After that, seven of the next eight weights featured repeat champions, starting with Parker Kropman at 106 and also including Nick Casella (120), Ian Lupole (126), Leonard Merkin (132), Sam Ward (138), Gino Titone (145) and Jesse Porter (152). The only exception was at 113, where Evan Barczak notched the freestyle championship a day after earning runner up honors in Greco.

The additional double titlewinners were Jacob Woolson (170), Aidan Mathews (195) and Peter Strassfield (285).  A day after registering a bronze showing in Greco, Jake Ashcraft stood on top of the podium at 160 pounds, while Jeremy Hughes picked up gold at 182 and James Bethel did the same at 220.

Full brackets are available at http://www.trackwrestling.com.

For the placewinners from Sunday’s action in Cadet Freestyle and Junior Greco, see below.



Cadet FS – 88 Results
1st Place – Drew Schafer of Superior Wrestling Academy
2nd Place – Justin Lopez of Yonkers
3rd Place – Darwingh Alvarez of Beat the Streets New York City
4th Place – Oscar Lainez of Middletown
5th Place – David Ciciarella of Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club

Cadet FS – 94 Results
1st Place – Brian Kelly of Kings Park Wrestling
2nd Place – David Wolanski of SCHENECTADY

Cadet FS – 100 Results
1st Place – Vincent Vespa of rock hard wrestling
2nd Place – Anthony Sparacio of North Babylon
3rd Place – John Luke Destefano of Beat the Streets New York City
4th Place – Nicholas Forte of Journey
5th Place – Shane Gibbons of Massapequa
6th Place – Maxim Pasichnik of BTS PS 186

Cadet FS – 106 Results
1st Place – Parker Kropman of Titan World Wide Wrestling Clu
2nd Place – Dean Raymond of Team Worldwide Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Sean Miller of Ascend Wrestling Club
4th Place – Johnathon Lauricella of Genesee Valley Wrestling Club
5th Place – Theodore Powers of MEXICO
6th Place – John Devine of Titans

Cadet FS – 113 Results
1st Place – Evan Barczak of rock hard wrestling
2nd Place – Chris Donnelly of Ascend Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Taylor Picciano of Kings Park Wrestling
4th Place – John Kalinoglu of Massapequa
5th Place – Michael Venosa of Section 5
6th Place – Kevin Kelly of rock hard wrestling

Cadet FS – 120 Results
1st Place – Nicholas Casella of Vougar Honors Wrestling Inc.
2nd Place – Benjamin Lamantia of Vougar Honors Wrestling Inc.
3rd Place – Dominic Inzana of Saratoga Springs
4th Place – Jackie Gold of Rocky Point
5th Place – Hunter Howland of MEXICO
6th Place – Brandon Santiago of Beat the Streets New York City

Cadet FS – 126 Results
1st Place – Ian Lupole of Team Worldwide Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Christian Briody of Ascend Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Michael Berkowitz of Vougar Honors Wrestling Inc.
4th Place – Blake Jackson of Superior Wrestling Academy
5th Place – James Rosado of Beat the Streets New York City
6th Place – Nichholas Petralia of Section 8

Cadet FS – 132 Results
1st Place – Leonard Merkin of elite wrestling academy
2nd Place – Freddy Eckles of Buffalo Grapplers Wrestling Cl
3rd Place – Mike D`Angelo of Ascend Wrestling Club
4th Place – Da`mani Burns of Newburgh Wrestling Club
5th Place – Jake Colonna of North Babylon
6th Place – Christopher Ladd of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club

Cadet FS – 138 Results
1st Place – Samuel Ward of Ascend Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Kevin Jackson of Ascend Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Jilling Frank of Lindenhurst
4th Place – Wyatt DeMarree of Section 5
5th Place – Steven Prinston of Beat the Streets New York City
6th Place – Marc Paez of Long beach

Cadet FS – 145 Results
1st Place – Gino Titone of Connetquot Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Jakob Restrepo of Vougar Honors Wrestling Inc.
3rd Place – Jordan Bushey of Cellar Dwellers
4th Place – Thomas Wightman of Section 9
5th Place – Steven Culbert of Journeymen Wrestling
6th Place – Brian Bucci of Section 9

Cadet FS – 152 Results
1st Place – Jesse Porter of Journeymen Wrestling
2nd Place – Ronaldo Rodriguez of Beat the Streets New York City
3rd Place – William Marcil of ATWA
4th Place – John Vouzonis of Ascend Wrestling Club
5th Place – Dylan Gifford of Veritas
6th Place – Dylan Studer of Team Worldwide Wrestling Club

Cadet FS – 160 Results
1st Place – Jacob Ashcraft of Journeymen Wrestling
2nd Place – Collin LaBombard of Cellar Dwellers
3rd Place – Andy Cummings of Journeymen Wrestling
4th Place – Max Zhitnik of Tiger Style Wrestling
5th Place – Vance Cuffie of Beat the Streets New York City
6th Place – Zafar Iskandarov of Beat the Streets New York City

Cadet FS – 170 Results
1st Place – Jacob Woolson of Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Dakota Wolley of Genesee Valley Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Richie Jones of Cobra
4th Place – Tom Lane of Section 8
5th Place – Tredd Smith of Section 8
6th Place – Madhur Karki of Titan World Wide Wrestling Clu

Cadet FS – 182 Results
1st Place – Jeremy Hughes of Section 8
2nd Place – James Campbell of Titan World Wide Wrestling Clu
3rd Place – Marcello Gennaro of Section 9
4th Place – Colby Staley of ATWA

Cadet FS – 195 Results
1st Place – Aidan Mathews of Dark corner
2nd Place – Nick Mcshea of rock hard wrestling
3rd Place – Tyler Hall of Section 6
4th Place – Christopher Halleran of Tiger Style Wrestling

Cadet FS – 220 Results
1st Place – James Bethel of Dark corner
2nd Place – Khaled Abdoun of Journeymen Wrestling
3rd Place – Chris Tangora of Section 2
4th Place – Elijah Sampo of Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club
5th Place – Chazz Leo of Section 11
6th Place – George O`Mahony of Massapequa

Cadet FS – 285 Results
1st Place – Peter Strassfield of Southampton High School Wrestl
2nd Place – Alex Gonzalez of Geneva
3rd Place – Jordan Keys of Journeymen Wrestling
4th Place – Garyn Huntley of Veritas
5th Place – Victor Palmer-Ortiz of Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club
6th Place – Jake Lanzillo of Averill Park



JUNIOR GR – 106 Results
1st Place – Dolan Mccolgan of Beat the Streets New York
2nd Place – Nico Riccio of Journeymen

JUNIOR GR – 113 Results
1st Place – Golan Cohen of Titan
2nd Place – Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush
3rd Place – Noah Malamut of Poly Prep High School Wrestlin
4th Place – Matthew Stallone of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club
5th Place – alex kellar of Section 4
6th Place – Shamar Griffith of Beat the Streets New York

JUNIOR GR – 120 Results
1st Place – Matthew Morris of ATWA
2nd Place – Pedro Rosales of Bearcave
3rd Place – ryan burns of Cobra Wrestling Academy
4th Place – Alpha Diallo of Beat the Streets New York
5th Place – Rashid Powell of Beat the Streets New York
6th Place – Kyle Kelly of Team Worldwide

JUNIOR GR – 126 Results
1st Place – Cheick Ndiaye of Beat the Streets New York
2nd Place – Richard Antonacci of Ascend Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Andrew Taber of North Rose-Wolcott High School
4th Place – Daniel Amancio of Bronx
5th Place – Paul Smoot of Rock Hard Wrestling
6th Place – Ray Konvicka of MVWC

JUNIOR GR – 132 Results
1st Place – William Koll of Finger Lakes Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Blake Retell of Journeymen
3rd Place – Ryan Snow of Section 3
4th Place – Nathan Hayes of Team Worldwide
5th Place – Carl Rouse of Team Worldwide
6th Place – Thomas Walsh of Titan

JUNIOR GR – 138 Results
1st Place – Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Buffalo Grapplers
2nd Place – Sean O`Hagan of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Eric Bergin of Beat the Streets New York
4th Place – Jay Oates of ATWA
5th Place – Nick Strand of Westhampton Beach High School
6th Place – Nathaniel Vargas of Guilderland HS

JUNIOR GR – 145 Results
1st Place – Rocco Russo of New York Super Six
2nd Place – Codie Gilllette of ATWA
3rd Place – Saidyokub Kahramonov of Beat the Streets New York
4th Place – Nathaniel Palmer of ATWA
5th Place – Jay Kindlon of New York Titans
6th Place – Colin Hay of Miller Place Takedown Clubcoli

JUNIOR GR – 152 Results
1st Place – Kevin Thayer of Veritas
2nd Place – Nigel Williams of Beat the Streets New York
3rd Place – Max Garkusha of Beat the Streets New York
4th Place – Askar Raimbek of Beat the Streets New York
5th Place – Tanner Phillips of ATWA
6th Place – Mirlan Jumabaev of Beat the Streets New York

JUNIOR GR – 160 Results
1st Place – Burke Paddock of Team Ten
2nd Place – Alexander Smythe of New York Super Six
3rd Place – Michael Tropiano of Vougars Honor Wrestling (VHW)
4th Place – Jimmy Marquez of Journeymen
5th Place – Derrick Gardner of Averill Park
6th Place – Jordan Formicola of falcons

JUNIOR GR – 170 Results
1st Place – Andrew Psomas of Farrell Lions
2nd Place – Liam Bass of Westhampton Beach High School
3rd Place – Troy Seymour of ATWA
4th Place – David Bunn of Copiague
5th Place – Garrett Davis of New York Titans
6th Place – Mark Anthony Perez of Unattached

JUNIOR GR – 182 Results
1st Place – James Schreck of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club
2nd Place – Isaiah Zimmer of Team Worldwide
3rd Place – Cedrick Stephens of Beat the Streets New York
4th Place – Mark Tracey of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club
5th Place – Ronnie King of Islip
6th Place – Alex Moss of MVWC

JUNIOR GR – 195 Results
1st Place – Reggie Williams of Team Worldwide
2nd Place – Giovanni Santiago of Sachem 3 Style Wrestling Club
3rd Place – Roland Zilberman of Beat the Streets New York
4th Place – Nathanael Rose of Beat the Streets New York
5th Place – Richard Duermeyer of Buffalo Grapplers
6th Place – Maleke Cunningham of Beat the Streets New York

JUNIOR GR – 220 Results
1st Place – Sam Eagen of Empire/Titan
2nd Place – Luke McKee of ATWA
3rd Place – Rafael Rokosz of Southhampton HS
4th Place – Endy Nunez of Rams Wrestling Club
5th Place – Sean Fergusan of Rocky Point
6th Place – Allen Michael Rios of Team Worldwide

JUNIOR GR – 285 Results
1st Place – Jeff Urbina of Copiague
2nd Place – Nolan Terrance of ATWA
3rd Place – Matthew Abbott of Team Worldwide
4th Place – Mason Cross of New York Titans
5th Place – Quasar Hampton of Beat the Streets New York
6th Place – Mark Ifraimov of Beat the Streets New York