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|DAY 2 NOTES: World Team coach Shawn Sheldon enjoys working with youth|
By Gary Abbott and Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
FARGO, N.D. - One of the coaches with Team Florida in Fargo this year has an even bigger assignment in the next few months. Shawn Sheldon, a two-time Olympian and World silver medalist as a Greco-Roman wrestler, will be serving as coach of the 2006 U.S. World Greco-Roman Team that will be competing in Guangzhou, China this year.
Coaching a Senior World Team will be a new assignment for Sheldon. Coaching talented young wrestlers is what he does on a daily basis.
Sheldon is the Wrestling Administrator and coach for the Palm Beach County Community Olympic Development Program (CODP), a position where he is working with the young wrestlers from his area. This program, which is affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Wrestling, is designed to help develop future Olympians, as well as build Olympic sports in their community.
Sheldon was a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete for many years in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was helping coach many Senior level wrestlers after his competitive career ended. A New York native, it was his connection with youth wrestling in Florida which ultimately brought Sheldon to his current occupation.
"A guy from New York that lives in Florida wanted Ike Anderson and I to do a camp there," explained Sheldon. "Then, they asked if I would go to Fargo with the Florida team. It was a good time. They had a bunch of talented kids, but not with the best technique. It is a natural progression for New Yorkers to migrate to Florida. It has worked out well for me."
Sheldon has been coaching Team Florida for four years in Fargo, and accepted his position in Palm Beach County two years ago. He is also a high school coach at Jupiter Christian, where he and past NCAA champion Jeff Prescott have developed a state champion wrestling team. Sheldon also serves as a teacher at Jupiter Christian, teaching computers. He really enjoys working with young athletes in all of his wrestling roles in Florida.
"You can see them develop," said Sheldon. "You can have someone who never did a reverse lift, and they come to the National Championships and they throw somebody. It is great to see that they can learn the techniques, and they have faith in me to use it."
Sheldon sees a difference between working with youth and coaching Senior level wrestlers.
"With adults, it comes down to scheduling good training sessions, so they can peak. We hone their technique and get them mentally ready and physically prepared. They have their technique already. We can show them some tricks. At the Open level, mental preparation is 99 percent of the match. With the right attitude, nobody can beat you. Rulon Gardner proved that against Kareline," said Sheldon.
In his job with the Palm Beach County CODP, Sheldon will also be very active in organizing and hosting the U.S. Beach and Sombo Nationals that will be hosted in his hometown. It will be a very busy summer of wrestling ahead for Shawn, who will also go through the final two months of preparing the U.S. Greco-Roman team for the World Championships.
Sheldon expects a strong U.S. effort in Greco-Roman in China this year.
"We have a good team. They are a little young, but they have experience. We will see some stuff from this team they will be happy with," he said.
Cornhusker State is well-represented at 140
Nebraska has just 10 entries in the Junior Greco-Roman competition, but there is plenty of firepower among that group. Especially at 140 pounds where four Nebraska state high school champions - DaVaughn Perkins, Jeremy McCoy, Esai Dominguez and Jay Sherer - are all in the same weight class.
Perkins was a Cadet National champion in Greco-Roman in 2005 and Dominguez a FILA Cadet National champion last year while McCoy and Sherer also have excelled in numerous national events.
McCoy was a three-time state champion at Omaha North and Boys Town, Perkins has won two titles for North, Dominguez is a state champ from Omaha Creighton Prep and Sherer won two state titles for Columbus High School. Perkins and Dominguez will be seniors next year while McCoy is headed to Iowa Central and Sherer to Augustana.
Perkins, McCoy and Dominguez all wound up in Group B of the 140 bracket while Sherer is on the other side in Group A. Perkins, McCoy and Dominguez each rolled to first-round wins Sunday while Sherer lost in the first round.
Nebraska's Andy Pokorny, a past FILA Cadet National champion, is wrestling at 112 pounds in the Junior Greco-Roman division while teammate Trenton Washington, a Cadet National runner-up last year, is competing at 130. Pokorny and Washington each collected a pair of wins in Sunday's first session.
Pokorny, a University of Nebraska recruit, is from Bennington, Neb., and Washington is from Omaha.
Junior Greco-Roman numbers in excess of 800 again
Another large field filled out the brackets for the 15 weight classes in the Junior Greco-Roman competition that kicked off Sunday morning at the FargoDome.
A total of 848 athletes from 43 states are competing in the Junior Greco-Roman division. Ohio has the most entries with 54, followed by California (46), Illinois (42), New York (39), Pennsylvania (37), Minnesota (36), and Florida and Washington (35 apiece).
Coming Up: Manic Monday looming with Juniors, Cadets, women all on the mat
The wrestling action really heats up on Monday with three different classes competing on the 23 mats at the FargoDome.
The day starts at 9 a.m. with Session III of the Junior Greco-Roman competition, Session IV of the Cadet Greco-Roman competition and Session I of the women's division.
The first champions of the eight-day event will be crowned during the Cadet Greco-Roman finals from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday. The day concludes with Session II of the women from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.