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USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle Nationals finalists can go to Olympic Training Center

USA Wrestling is excited to provide new competitive and training opportunities for many of America's top high school wrestlers.

For the first time, a Junior division has been included in USA Wrestling's Folkstyle National Championships, which will be held at the UNI-Dome on the campus of the Univ. of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, March 30-April 1.

As everybody should know, folkstyle is the American-style of wrestling, which is contested in our nation's scholastic and collegiate programs

Within the USA Wrestling structure, Juniors are athletes born 9/1/1987 and after, plus are enrolled in grades 9-12. If you are competing on the high school level this year, you can attend this event and test the nation's best in folkstyle wrestling.

The weight classes in the Junior division are the same as during the scholastic season (in pounds): 98, 105, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215, 285

Certainly, high school wrestlers have many competitive opportunities in the post-season, especially in folkstyle. However, the athletes who choose to attend the USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle National Championships will get opportunities that are not available anywhere else.

The finalists in each weight class at the USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle Nationals earn "funded access" status at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC). That means that 30 high school wrestlers who make the journey to Cedar Falls, Iowa will earn the chance to come to Colorado Springs, Colo. and train with the nation's best wrestling coaches and athletes.

With funded access, the championship finalists from the Junior Folkstyle Nationals will receive free room and board and facility use access at the USOTC. Only athletes who reach a high level of accomplishment at specific national events earn this opportunity. The Junior Folkstyle Nationals have been added as a qualifying event for funded access privileges. This program is designed for elite young athletes who have great potential.

The coaches who are at the U.S. Olympic Training Center are recognized as some of the best in the entire world. Working with these coaches will make a big difference in an athlete's performance, not only in the international styles, but in their future folkstyle competition on the high school or college levels.

Consider these coaches:
- National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson
- National Freestyle Resident Coach Terry Brands
- National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser
- Assistant National Greco-Roman Coach Momir Petkovic
- National Greco-Roman Resident Coach Anatoly Petrosyan
- National Women's Coach Terry Steiner
- National Freestyle Developmental Coach Dave Bennett
- National Greco-Roman Developmental Coach Ike Anderson
- National Women's Resident Coach Izzy Izboinikov

Jackson, Fraser and Petkovic were Olympic champions. Jackson, Brands and Petkovic were World champions. Brands was an Olympic medalist. Anderson competed in the Olympic Games. Steiner was a NCAA Div. I champion. Petkovic, Petrosyan and Izboinikov learned their wrestling and their coaching skills in the Eastern bloc, where wrestling is mastered.

They were great athletes, for sure, but also, these are considered tremendous coaches. These are the people who make the United States a World and Olympic wrestling power. They not only can teach skills in freestyle and Greco-Roman, but their technical knowledge will improve an athlete's folkstyle performance.

Add to that the U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athletes who are in training while the funded access athletes are there, along with the other top high school athletes who will be in the training camps, and you understand the valuable learning experience.

Many of the top wrestlers in the NCAA Div. I Championships each year have spent time training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, either while in high school or sometime since going to college. The star brothers who are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in college, Ben and Max Askren of the Univ. of Missouri, have taken advantage of the training opportunities in Colorado Springs. So many others can be added to this list each year.

With the addition of the Junior division to the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals, there will now be a coveted USA Wrestling Triple Crown awarded at this age division.

This award is given to any wrestler who has won USA Wrestling national titles in all three styles during the same year: folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman. The other two legs of the USA Wrestling Junior Triple Crown will be contested at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., July 20-26.

Other age levels that have existing Triple Crowns are the Kids, Cadet and Veterans divisions. Winning a USA Wrestling Triple Crown award is one of the top honors in all of wrestling.

Those wrestlers who attend this year also have a chance to make history. They could become the first USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle National champions, or become All-Americans at this event during its first year. Those who take the challenge will be included in the record books forever.

When planning your spring wrestling schedule, all high school athletes are invited to come to Cedar Falls, Iowa for the USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle Nationals. For more information and to register online for the tournament, visit:
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