USOEC tops All-Navy team in Greco-Roman, freestyle wrestling dual at Vandament Arena

MARQUETTE – It had been four years since third-year United States Olympic Education Center Greco-Roman wrestler Harry “Thrasher” Porcher wrestled freestyle, but as the Northern Michigan University sophomore said, “wrestling is wrestling.”

“It’s just having fun,” Porcher said.

The USOEC won five of six Greco-Roman matches and four of five freestyle matches Tuesday at Vandament Arena during a dual against the visiting All-Navy team.

It was visiting and training with the USOEC in preparation for the Armed Forces Wrestling Championships on the McGuire AFB in New Jersey on March 16.

Porcher, of Chuluota, Fla., was one of four victors for the USOEC in freestyle matches. He defeated Dietrich Zacher of San Diego, 7-0, 3-0, at 66-kilograms, with the first period win coming by technical fall.

“The Navy guys are hard workers,” Porcher said. “It’s good to get fresh bodies in the room to work with.”

Second-year USOEC wrestler and NMU sophomore Dillon Cowan of Harvard, Ill., won a pair of 74-kg freestyle bouts – 5-5, 5-3 over Jorge Mendez of Arlington, Va., and 6-0, 9-3 (both tech falls), over Adrian Rios of Liberal, Kan.

First-year USOEC wrestler and NMU freshman Mike Mioni of Phoenix posted the other freestyle win for the USOEC at 60 kg, 3-1, 3-2, over Sheldon Wilder of Durham, N.C.

The Navy’s Darnell Jones of Atlanta pinned NMU freshman and USOEC first-year wrestler Roman Moreno of Miami Lakes, Fla., at 1:14 of the first period of a 55-kg bout.

“You don’t like to think they’re risking injury, but wrestling is wrestling and they are getting mat time,” USOEC head coach Rob Hermann said. “They stepped it up out there.”

In Greco-Roman matches, four NMU freshmen and first-year USOEC resident athletes scored victories.

At 84 kg, Aaron Holland of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, opened the night with a 1-0, 2-0 win over Mendez; Arthur Carmona of Brawley, Calif., topped Jones, 4-1, 7-0 (tech fall) at 55 kg; Miami’s Alex Sancho won a three-period 1-1, 5-0, 3-3 match over Zacher at 66 kg; and Anthony Carmona of Brawley scored a 4-0, 2-0, sweep at 74 kg over Rios.

NMU junior and second-year USOEC wrestler Jason Chudzinski used a pair of tech falls, 8-0 and 6-0, to defeat the Navy’s Justin Nolan of Inverness, Fla., at 60 kg.

“I was happy with the outcome, but obviously, we can get better,” Hermann said. “A couple of my guys came off the mats, said they were nervous before they went out there. They need matches and this will help them for the big picture.”

Tuesday’s dual meet for the USOEC against the All-Navy team was the first public event in Marquette since the IOC announced on Feb. 12 it was dropping Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling from the 2020 Olympic program.

Hermann said his program is trying to focus on what’s in front of his athletes this season and leaving the future of Olympic wrestling to the “heavy hitters in USA Wrestling and around the world.”

“I can’t control what the IOC is going to do,” Hermann said. “We’re trying to stay focused on what we came into the season for. That’s to make the world teams, FILA junior worlds, university worlds and senior worlds.

“We have four or five guy – if not more – who can make the 2016 team, so we’re trying to stay focused on what’s ahead of us.”

Porcher is one of the 2016 hopefuls eyeing a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He said the decision has added a level of urgency, but there’s always a sense of urgency to be a part of an event that only comes around once every four years.

While his mind is focused on 2016, he and his teammates are still trying to bring awareness to the fight ahead for his sport.

Wrestling’s fate for 2020 isn’t sealed. It will join seven other sports – baseball and softball (combined bid), karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu – that will be proposed in May and voted upon in September.

“Pretty much all of our guys are really great ambassadors of the sport,” Porcher said. “We’ve all got really wide wrestling networks, so we’re kind of doing our part to raise awareness of it first.

“That’s the first thing, people figuring out, ‘Wait, they cut wrestling?’ Most people are pretty shocked by that.”

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.