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.