JACKSONVILLE, N.C. --
Eleven of the Marine Corps’ most talented wrestlers with the All-Marine Wrestling team (AMWT) are at a facility on Marine Corps Air Station New River preparing to compete for the opportunity to challenge some of America’s top athletes during the U.S. Olympic Trials at Penn State University in April, 2021.
Those who qualify at the Olympic Trials will have their chance on the mat to compete against some of the world’s best wrestlers at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“Our Marines here put in hard work every day, they push themselves to their limit in everything that they do; whether it is trying to lift more, or run a 100 or 200 meter sprint faster, they push themselves to the brink,” said Capt. Daniel Miller, the company commander for the AMWT. “The Marines going to the trials are ready, and it is because of their hard work on and off the mat.”
Originally scheduled for April 2020, the U.S. Olympic Trials were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to AMWT head coach, Jason Loukides, the Marines have their eyes set on winning and their training shows their commitment.
“We started off with general exercises and techniques in order to get them ready for the more rigorous training,” Loukides said. “As we near the trials we start doing more intense training that resembles what an actual match is.”
While the AMWT trains and competes year-round, Loukides has challenged the wrestlers with increased intensity training. The Marines have increased their time on the mat, with interval training that includes the Marines wrestling for a few minutes with a short break then back to wrestling in a continuous cycle.
The Marines compete in Greco-Roman style wrestling, one of three primary styles of wrestling, where two wrestlers attempt to gain control over their opponent through the use of throws, locks and clinching techniques. Holds below the waist are not permitted and only the upper body can be used.
According to Miller, physical ability is important, but how the Marine acts off the mat is even more important.
“While we do look at their physical abilities and wrestling skill, that is not all we look for,” Miller said. “The most important thing I look for is Marines who are extremely professional in everything they do. They are going to be put on stages in front of people from around the world and they need to put out a positive representation of the Marine Corps.”
Those who qualify at the Olympic Trials will continue their training in their specified weight class with Team USA in preparation for the Olympic Games. However, not all of the Marines who have qualified for the trials are competing for Team USA.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Joshua Medina, a wrestler with the AMWT, and Puerto Rico native, is excited to compete for a spot to represent his home. Medina is one of three teammates vying for a spot to represent Team Puerto Rico.
“I was born in Puerto Rico, but I never had the opportunity to do any kind of sports for Puerto Rico,” Medina said. “When I got on the AMWT, the opportunity came around where I could represent my home country, my last name and the Marine Corps. It is an honor and a dream come true.”
For more information on how to try out for the AMWT, visit the team’s Facebook page, or go to https://www.usmc-mccs.org/services/fitness/all-marine-sports/.