Military News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Air Force Wrestling Team trains at JB MDL

by Airman 1st Class Joshua King
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

3/27/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- Air Force Wrestling Team trains at JB MDL Airman 1st Class Joshua King Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST

The U.S. Air Force Wrestling Team recently concluded  their annual two-month training camp at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. in preparation for the Armed Forces Wrestling Championships currently being held at Fort Carson, Colorado.

For the duration of the training, team members exercise together for at least six hours each day, with a strenuous combination of sprints, sometimes with a teammate on their back, pool sessions and long hours in the wrestling room practicing their technique.

"This is top notch training," said Airman Tyler Westlund, a wrestling team member from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, who is also a former high school state and national champion. "It is the hardest training mentally and physically that I have ever been through. The diet and going to the gym before and after practice make it very difficult."

While other branches of the military have year-long training programs for their competitive sports teams, Airmen who don't have local wrestling teams at their base have to train on their own for most of the year and show up to camp ready to work hard.

"You can't expect to compete with those guys [other wrestling teams] if you're sitting at home eating Cheetos in the off season," said Westlund, "You have to train continuously if you want to win."

"We understand we have a mountain to climb," said Floyd Winter, the team's head coach. "I just want them to fight every minute out there, if they do that we can win some medals."

The team has several competitions throughout the year, including the ongoing Armed Forces Championship, the National Championships in May and the International Military Sports Council (CISM) World Championship in October.

"Our goal is to place first or second as a team," "We compete pretty well," said Master Sgt. Sherwin Severin, a wrestling team member from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.. "The other branches know when they wrestle us it's not going to be easy. What we lack in experience we make up for in conditioning."

Admission to the team is competitive, requiring an application, commander's approval and selection by Air Force Sports, based on their package. Once selected, Airmen intent on making the team must vie amongst themselves for a position, ensuring places only go to the top contenders.

"There were 20 Airmen at the start of camp," said Floyd Winter. "There were wrestle-offs that cut it down to 12."

"This is probably one of the strongest teams I've seen since 2010" added Severin. "We have guys who are fresh out of state championships; one guy who was a college All-American and a good number of returnees."

The final team of 12 members ranges in rank from Airman to master sergeant, hailing from bases around the world. They converged on the base in the beginning of February, and have spent nearly every waking hour in one another's company since then.

"We're all military so we have that in common but we're also all wrestlers," said Westlund. "Those guys are like my brothers, they're my best friends. It's crazy, in such a short time you can bond. It's a really cool bond and I'm really happy to be here and a part of that."

"We bond through the struggle we go through every day," added Severin.

In addition to developing strong bonds with teammates, being part of the wrestling team has countless other benefits for its members.

"Being on the team means a few things - I get to go after my goals, I get to promote Air Force wrestling, which very few people know about, and being the older guy, it shows the Airmen below me that anyone can do it," said Severin.

"This is a great experience, I get to represent the Air Force and if I do well I could get the chance to compete overseas and represent the United States," agreed Westlund.

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