14 October 2011

Here we go!

The 2011-2012 installment of York College Wrestling kicked off this week as practice began for all NCAA wrestling teams.

We begin this season with close to 40 Spartans in the room and we bring quite a bit of talent back from last year in addition to bringing in a bevy of talented freshman and transfers.

Come back often for posts by the coaching staff and guest posts by wrestlers, administrators, and maybe even our very own Greenman will drop some thoughts on the team!

Best Always,

Coach Bailey

14 July 2011

Sorry Long Island, you'll have to get along without me until July 23rd, gotta get my Greco on!

We caught up with Alex after he has trained for a few days. One of his recent training partners was 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Mirko Englich. Alex will give us some insight in the extension of his stay at the OTC.

York College Wrestling: Alex, tell us the deal, you have decided to extend your stay at the OTC?

Alex Martocello: I decided to extend the trip. I was talking to my mom and my dad and they said it’s a really unique opportunity. I told them how I was really getting a lot out of it. Originally I was only going to stay until this Sunday, then I talked to my mom and she said, “Will you stay longer?” and I said yeah, so she said, “Stay as long as you want.” I’ll be leaving the 23rd of July.

YCPW: So how did things go with the German yesterday?

AM: A little rough, I got fived (hit with the biggest scoring move in international wrestling) twice. I think he was being nice, he could have fived me a lot more. He hit me with two belly to belly throws. He just stepped in and hit the throw from an over and under hook situation. He took me down one time and I banged my knee up and he was like, “Alex, Alex, you okay?” And I was like yeah, just give me a second. He took Silver at Beijing at 96 Kgs. He’s a big boy. My group of three was him, the 96 Kg Junior World Team Member and me. 

Video below is of Mirko Englich from the 2010 World Championships in Moscow, Russia

Here is video of a German commercial by Adidas featuring Mirko

YCPW: Are you starting to talk in Metric terms now?

AM: Yeah, the weight room is really confusing. I have no idea how much weight I am doing, I just try to throw stuff on there and see what I can do. They have these boxes on the racks we never do our lifts from the floor. Things are done from the box, box high-pulls, box cleans.  

YCPW: What other kind of cool things are you doing?

AM: We had today completely off. In the morning session yesterday we had three man groups with 30 live shots that were a minute and a half each. That was pretty rough. We also had a live session from our feet and par terre, but it was a scaled back version. This wasn’t live where if someone starts to slow down you don’t get on them and say, “Let’s go, let’ go,” it was more like 50%. I was hanging out with Kendrick Sanders the other day and we were watching a match of his when he wrestled in the Junior National finals and I asked how he did in Fargo and he goes, “I won it three times.” I did beat him in basketball in Around the World, I was on fire today. I was feelin’ it man.

YCPW: How are they splitting your training?

AM: Monday we had a lift in the morning and wrestled in the afternoon. I don’t know if they are feeling it out by the way guys are looking or how tough the first session was, but the split the groups in the afternoon, heavy guys went earlier and the light guys went later yesterday. Today they gave us completely off, but they said we can practice if we want to. Even Mirko Englich, the 2008 Silver medalist said, “That won’t be necessary.”

YCPW: What’s the buzz around the OTC about Cael Sanderson’s comeback?

AM: You know it’s weird no one really talks about it. Greco guys are pretty much Greco guys. I asked one of the guys about a nutrition meeting we were supposed to have and he said he didn’t know anything about the Greco schedule. It’s like two different sports. I was drilling with one of the University of Minnesota wrestlers that is on the Junior World Team and I asked a freestyle/folkstyle question and the coach just said, “No freestyle, no freestyle, no freestyle,” and just walked away.

YCPW: Have you been down into town at all?

AM: Yeah, we’ve seen a couple movies so far at a dollar movie theater. The town itself is cool, it’s a Midwest town. We’re taking cabs everywhere, so basically we go to Wal-Mart, the mall. I never saw a mountain lion before from a real perspective. I saw one in a hunting store, those things are huge. It’s like a lion. I saw it the day before we went to the Cog and I thought, “I hope one of these doesn’t swipe me off the trail.”

YCPW: What do you have going on for training in the coming days?

AM: We got a handout with the format of our training and it ends tomorrow, so we’ll probably play it by ear.

YCPW: You’ve been there for eight days, do you feel a difference in your lungs, have you acclimatized at all?

AM: Definitely, absolutely. From the first day I feel 100% better. I am hoping that this benefit can carry on for however long. I’m looking forward to coming home and training.

YCPW: What is the most valuable thing you have gained in terms of training since you have been there?

AM: I think mostly that these guys aren’t doing things that much differently than us. The confidence that I have built is pretty huge.

YCPW: Can you leave us with one last thing before we end the interview?

AM: Sure, before the first session yesterday Coach Fraser said, “All-American guys over here. Listen guys, I have seen some of you guys wrestle live, you’re wrestling like Europeans. Never forget the spirit we have, you’ve got to go out and score. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing, we just have to score. Come at those guys. You got the conditioning; our best chance to win a medal in this upcoming World’s Championship is to take it to them on their feet and not waiting for par terre with their chess games. Come at them for the full match.” It was cool, I was really pumped up after that. He talked about the American spirit and the American style that we have to stick to. It’s been very cool.

12 July 2011

Learning by doing and learning some more, plus back flips.

Alex has had a few days to recover from the Cog run and tonight’s blog post will be more of a stream of consciousness with me dictating Alex’s commentary. I’ll ask Alex a few big questions and let his answer in the detail he feels necessary.

York College Wrestling: You executed the back flip you were after for the week. Tell me how that gymnastic feat can serve as a larger metaphor for your entire trip to the OTC.

Alex Martocello: It’s something cool I have been after for a while. It’s just like anything else you have to go and do it. Seeing the guys out here got me fired up to do it. They walked me through stuff and were just like, “Dude just do it,” and I did it. It’s cool, it’s a confidence booster you know? The guys out here are all great wrestlers, so if I can score and bang with these guys in practice it should set me up well against  the rest of the country when I know I can roll with these guys.

YCPW: How did you recover during your day off?

AM: Basically they just said just get a lot of sleep, hang out and rest up. They told us to stretch and keep our legs moving, don’t let them get too tight. Break up the Lactic Acid and soreness with some good stretching. Pretty much just rest up. 

YCPW: There was a Rulon Gardner sighting in the room, tell us more about that.

AM: That was pretty crazy, he was smashing people today. I didn’t get to see much because we were in the same rotation in the group of three, but he put a guy out cold. He’s huge man, he’s so big.

YCPW: With your wrestling in general, I want you to talk me thru the mindset when you are in par terre Greco clinch, when you are going to get your lift what are you thinking.

AM: When I get my lift, Greco is a different style. I want to say it is a little more strategic on top. It is grinding, but it is also strategic, guys aren’t grinding the whole time, it’s very hit and go. So with my lifts if I don’t get my lock I have to look to adjust to get to a position to lift and with the lifts it is all explosion. Once you get the locks you are trying to position your legs so you can get to a side to hop over and switch it up on him. It’s all a game of position and beating the guy to it. My mindset is getting to a position to that I know I can score from. That is where the battle is, it’s him versus your offense. It’s different from Folkstyle because it’s more strategic.

YCPW: What about from the bottom when you are trying to fight the lift and you know the guy coming on top has just tossed your for a three point throw. How do you mentally prepare for that situation?

AM: Every time I go down I have to learn from in that throw or situation. Even if it is just me sitting a little harder or maybe shifting my weight when he goes to do that lift, or get my head down and in. I think that is mostly just learning form all of the different times I get thrown. It’s what I have to not make happen again and getting used to those positions, and having it so every time I go down I am learning something new in terms of how people’s offense works. Learning how I can get better from there.

Though Alex is slated to only stay through July 14th he did mention he hopes to stay for more of the camp which wraps up on July 21st.

We will give Alex a few days to get some more work in before we talk again on Wednesday night.

09 July 2011

Man vs. Mountain

This is the second in a series of interviews with Alex during his time at the OTC.
Today’s entry will look at Alex’s wrestling and his venture up the side of Pikes Peak on the Cog Trail. The Cog Trail is hallowed training ground and serves as the United States’ version of Mt. Olympus.

During the course of this interview you will read an interaction between Alex and one of the Finnish Coaches. If I may, as a coach, I feel this is the very essence of sport. The respect the Finnish coach showed Alex as he propelled his body up of a hill at 8800 feet is the respect all coaches and all athletes should strive to show each other. While not completely esoteric to wrestling I certainly have witnessed this more at the international level of wrestling than in any other sport.

This is the view at the bottom of the trail:

York College Wrestling: Let’s talk about the Cog Hill on Pikes Peak, how was it?

Alex Martocello: I had a final time of 40-42 minutes. It was more of a hike than a run, eventually I got a decent pace going, but most of the time I was running about 50 paces at a time. Right now the legs are fried. It was a little rough on the legs but for me during the actual run it was more about my lungs. I ran with the Northern Michigan guys (US Olympic Education Organization, a full time Greco Roman program) and some of the Marines (All Marine Team Members).  I don’t know, it’s a challenge it was all mental. Guys were high fiving each other when we got to the top. It definitely felt like an accomplishment.

This is Alex after the run:

When I got to the top of the track and wanted to back off, I sprinted up the last part , maybe 50 feet or so, and the Finnish coach starts yelling,  “Spirit! Spirit!”.
Editor’s note: In conversation on Thursday evening Alex told us that Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic Gold Medalist in Short Track Speed Skating, can run the entire Cog Trail in 14 minutes

YCPW: How did wrestling training go on Friday? How do you anticipate the day will go tomorrow?

AM: I took in some air time, but I turned some guys with the side head locks. We did some play wrestling from our feet, we warmed up doing some acrobatic stuff. Front hand springs, arm throws, front rolls, round offs to backflip. It made me look unathletic at times.

We did a lot of par terre (ground) wrestling. I got hit with some reverse lifts, but my defense did improve as the session went on. We trained without our shirts off to mimic a real Greco match. That made it hard at times, but overall it made it much more realistic in wrestling terms for the guys that wrestle Greco full time.

On Sunday we have off, but I m going to work on my backflip, that is a new goal for the trip.

For the rest of the time here I want to focus on bigger throws and armspins. Right now I am working on ducks and short arm drags, but I’d like to get to the bigger throws.

YCPW: You are now four days into the trip, tell me how rewarding this is so far.

AM: It’s been a great experience and I am learning a lot every session and I am thinking of a way to stay longer.

YCPW: Tell me about the training and how it differs from your work during the NCAA season.

AM: Training is geared to one competition. Their ultimate goal is a world title. It’s not like there is a grind the entire time there is in folkstyle.  They keep they present in mind, but they don’t spend much time worrying over the small stuff in practice.

YCPW: How much wrestling have you done so far and how has it gone?

AM: Things are going well. I am transitioning, and I am using what I am learning. I am also using what I know from folkstyle. The guys here have been good with helping me make adjustments. Theses are real adjustments I can bring back to folkstyle. It might be a deeper step, or looking at a different angle, but it all helps.

YCPW: Now that you are a few days into the senior level camp how does it feel to be working with the guys on the Olympic ladder?

AM: It’s great, a lot of the guys are competing for the world title. It’s settling to know that I am competing with the top guys in the world. It’s nice to see what they find difficult I find difficult, what is hard for me is hard from them too. It has been reassuring to see the struggles of wrestlers.

YCPW: Have you been able to have any conversation with any of the Sr. Level guys? If so what have you learned tactically?

AM: I’ve been trying to get around, but I have not yet.

YCPW: Have you been able to forge any relationships?

AM: I am hanging out with UNC-Greensboro guys. One took 3rd in the Junior World Team Trials, so it’s cool. A lot of the kids are from Northern Michigan and are full time Greco guys.
Editor’s note: UNC-Greensboro’s program has been cancelled, but the wrestlers Alex is working with will stay at the University to train and compete full time in Greco.

We will give Alex a day or two to train before we report again. Look for the next interview to be posted on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

07 July 2011

Alex Martocello Interview from the OTC

Returning All-America and rising senior, Alex Martocello, (Miller Place NY, Miller Place HS) is the first wrestler in the storied history of the York College wrestling program to attend the United States Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The invitation was extended to Alex due to his fourth place finish at the 2011 NCAA Division III National Wrestling Championships. Alex is a wrestler that has experience in the international styles as he wrestled Freestyle for Team New York while in high school. During his time from July 5th – July 14th Alex will train with the 2011 Men’s Senior Level Greco-Roman national team In addition to training with the men that will represent the USA in Istanbul, Turkey later this year, Alex will also have the chance to train with the other men on the USA Wrestling ladder; the top three men at each weight.

York College Wrestling: Alex, Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, can you tell us a detailed version of your trip to the OTC.

Alex Martocello: I am out here to get better in any form of wrestling I can. Coming out of this experience I expect to be better than when I came in. When you compete for a national title you expect all of this to help you get to your goals.

YCPW: Give me a 30 second impression of life at the OTC.

AM: Intense, It’s go go go, every one is training, and very focused. Everything is geared towards the athletes getting better. From the food to the training staff everyone wants to make you better. It’s not just the wrestlers but all of the athletes here.

Editorial note: Alex sent me a text telling me about the dinner served at the dining hall that said, “The cafĂ© was serving rib eyes [steaks] tonight. It was awesome, I ate three.”

YCPW: Did you feel any apprehension as you boarded the plane? If so what was it?

AM: Yeah, I left knowing I’m going against the best in the country and essentially the world when I am out here. I am out here to get better and figure out why things go wrong when they do and how I can correct that. This is a way to understand things better.

YCPW: What are your big goals for this week?

AM: Understand position better, find a new form of offense to supplement my leg attacks, and to understand how the best in the world train and figure out why they do what they do. I saw during a workout today that lifting can very easily take care of running, which is a different concept altogether. I hope to bring this all back to make York College a better program.

YCPW: When you first got to the OTC you had to train with the Junior level guys, just how good are some of the top high schoolers in the nation?

AM: They’re pretty good, they are very physical. They are really impressive, and they are fun to watch. They are all go with great motors that never stop running.

YCPW: Have you seen any big names while walking around the OTC campus?

AM: (laughs) Yeah, (Former Team USA Head Coach/Former Iowa State Coach) Bobby Douglas, (Former Olympian and Current Team USA Head Freestyle Coach) Zeke Jones,  (Olympic Gold Medalist and Current Head Greco Coach) Steve Fraser, and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo. Today the brains and brawn behind USA Wrestling were all in one room, it is pretty unreal. I was star struck for the first minute or two, and then I realized we are all here for the same reason. There is this one wrestler here with the German National Greco Team, the guy is a multiple time World Champ. . .  and Head USA Greco-Roman Steve Fraser says, “What you have nine medals?,” and the German Coach just says “more” in the deep German accent. Everyone is good, but everyone is also very helpful and accommodating. Coach Fraser spoke to us and thanked us all for coming and he said, “When these guys win medals, we all win medals.”

YCPW: What are your thoughts on the altitude change and how does that affect a guy that basically lives on the beach on Long Island?

AM: It’s a big difference, the first day I got out here I had trouble walking around. I was spent after a 35 minute session with the  USAW Junior Level Guys. I breathe heavier and I might be a bit slower, but I am getting used to it now, but the first day I slept for 16 hours. The concept is definitely something I will bring back with me.

Alex will have one training session on Friday, July 8th and on Saturday he will tackle the infamous Cog Hill on Pikes Peak.

The YCP Wrestling Blog will catch up with Alex on Saturday after his time on Cog Hill. He will gain over 2000 feet of elevation in just a mile, some parts of the Cog have a slope as steep as 50 degrees!

Here is some footage from 2007 before Team USA wrestled in Baku, Azerbaijan 

11 March 2011

Albright and Martocello All-America!

Chris Albright and Alex Martocello have become York College's 21st and 22nd All-America wrestlers. Expect a full write up in the morning, but for now know that Chris Albright will be wrestling in the Semi-Finals against top seed Bebeto Yewah of UW-Lax. Alex has seven seed Josef Rau of Elmhurst.

Expect both wrestlers to be focused in the matches and be prepared as they have been all week in preparation to become All-America wrestlers.

Albright and Martocello win matches in rd of 16

Chris Albright and Alex Martocello both reached the NCAA Quarter finals, but in drastically different manners. Chris use two sets of backpoints in the 3rd period to pull away from Chris LeClere from Coe College. Alex used a barrage of takedowns to win 9-3 over Andrew Roberts of Cornell College.

Waiting for Chris is #5 Seed Ryan Bridge of Steven Tech and #3 Seed Mike Denver gets to tangle with Alex Martocello in the quarters.

Results and video available at NCAA.com