Jake Varner stood in the middle of the mat waiting for anyone to step out.
Instead of one of the other Olympic gold medalists inside of Arizona State’s Riches Wrestling Complex on Wednesday, it was Pennsylvania phenom Spencer Lee followed up by a youth wrestler that couldn’t have been more than 6 years old and 55 pounds.
Just a couple mats away Jordan Burroughs was going through a rigorous plyometric-type workout that not only showed what it takes to be champion but what he feels needs to be done to stay on top.
Words can’t do justice to what he put his body through, but it helped explain where he gets the explosiveness on the mat.
It’s a small glimpse into what is happening everyday in Tempe as the World Team Camp continues on as members of the three World teams – National, University and Junior – go through workouts, drill, learn and go live against the countries best.
On the outskirts of the mats were about 50 Arizona youth wrestlers, most of the state’s top coaches (current and retired) and just about anyone else who wanted to soak up all of that was going on as four generations of wrestlers and coaches worked together.
The best was seeing Varner, the 210-pound freestyle gold medal winner in the 2012 Summer Olympics, wrestling with 113-pound Lee and the little guy.
They’d take their shots, do everything they could to move him and he’d let them do their thing for awhile before he’d work them over and get a playful pin.
“They are here to see us, maybe get our autograph and even just touch us,” he said. “It’s something to else to actually get on the mat and roll around. There is a bond to between wrestlers. Once you step on the mat, a match can breakout at any time so you have to be ready.”
I’m not sure many are ready to take on the type of workout Burroughs, who won the 163-pound gold medal in London in 2012, displayed although three others were going through it as well.
“That’s my workout and fortunately these kids where here to get a tangible piece of my lifestyle and what is necessary to maintain excellence,” Burroughs said. “I think a lot of people see the way I wrestle and compete and believe it is natural ability and talent. It comes with a lot of work.”
It’s not surprising to hear an elite athlete works hard. It is seemingly part of their DNA. It was just unreal to see it in person.
“You have to continue to evolve or be eaten,” he said. “It’s Darwin’s theory of evolution. Each and every year I have to add something to my repertoire – offensive and defensive moves - so I can hope to survive and remain successful.”
The way camp is going under coach Bruce Burnett success for the three teams seems imminent.
“It’s awesome,” Burroughs said. “We have a lot of future, current and former World and Olympic wrestlers here. It’s great opportunity to get the very best wrestlers in the country representing the great Red, White and Blue. There is no other place in the world right now where you get the quality of training partners and we are creating a brotherhood.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.