Desert Vista’s two most decorated wrestlers are heading to Colorado Springs, Colo., in the coming days for different but extremely impressive reasons.
Robbie Mathers and Alex Bambic have Olympic ideals.
A good showing this summer and they will be a step closer to making it a reality someday.
Bambic, the program’s second two-time state champion joining Mathers, is off to Colorado this weekend to compete in the Greco-Roman FILA Junior World Trials.
The winners will compete in the 2012 FILA Junior World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, Sept. 4-9.
Regardless of how Bambic competes at 185 pounds the exposure to this level of competition will only help his development heading into his final summer as a high school wrestler.
“Everyone wants to freestyle here and it’s hard to find partners for Greco,” said Bambic, who won’t be able to attend the full week because of finals. “I want to go up there, get some good partners and learn from my mistakes.”
Later this summer Bambic will spend some time in New York for the Army Camp at West Point.
“That will be important for me,” he said. “I want to see what it is like there. That’s where I want to go.”
Mathers’ stay in Colorado is going to be a little more permanent.
The three-time state champion was one of six graduating seniors across the country offered a chance to spend a year at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). Candidates had to be nominated by a coach from the OTC and Bill Zadick did just that after forging a relationship at various tournaments over the last few years.
In order to make it work, Mathers had to postpone his collegiate career and get a release from his scholarship from Utah Valley State.
He worked for years with the hopes of earning a college scholarship only to give it up — for one year anyway — but he did so without hesitation.
“No way because the OTC is the best place for wrestling,” Mathers said. “It is an awesome opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up. The (Utah Valley) coaches weren’t happy about it but they understood.”
Mathers will head up to Colorado Springs for a three-week camp in June, return to Arizona to prepare for the Fargo Nationals in July before returning to the OTC in August for the year.
He will work out with the Olympic Team daily and will participate in freestyle wrestling competition on a worldwide basis with the opportunity to travel to different countries where he will not only get a chance to take in the culture, but also absorb different styles of wrestling.
“That’s going to be sweet,” Mathers said. “I will be able to see how they live and see other parts of the world.”
Regardless of where his passport gets stamped, Mathers is looking most forward to the opportunity of learning from the nation’s best coaches and compete against the country’s very best wrestlers on a daily basis.
“There isn’t a tougher practice room in the world,” he said. “It is really intense and it is 100 percent wrestling at all times. You don’t have to focus on anything else.”
His father, Rob, said the plan is to return to Utah once his commitment to the OTC is over and if it all goes well this will be just the start of Mathers’ work done at the OTC.
“The (wrestlers) who have done this (before) were beating college All-Americans because of the experience they gained,” the elder Mathers said. “That’s amazing. Hopefully, he gets up there and the challenge makes him better. I think he will do well.
“Then he’d go back to Utah, probably red-shirt, and if he continues to progress he’d go back to the OTC in 2015 in preparation for the 2016 Olympics Trails. It is so far down the road, but when he is already at this stage it is hard not to think about.”
Mathers, who has been rehabbing a knee injury, talked to Chandler three-time state champion Dalton Brady, who spent about five months at the OTC before returning to Arizona, about the experience.
“He said it can get boring when you aren’t wrestling,” Mathers said. “It won’t be like college, but I will get there eventually. All I care about is wrestling and that’s what I am going to focus on.”
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