Dan Gable, Cael Sanderson and Henry Cejudo.

Three names that resonate wrestling all have walked the halls, sweated in the practice room and sat on the mats during clinics, passing on or soaking up as much instruction as possible, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

A pair of Desert Vista wrestlers can now say they have done the same.

Senior Robbie Mathers and junior Alex Bambic spent the week at the OTC for the Junior Olympic Training Program as they got a glimpse into what they hope is their future.

"This is where I want to be," Mathers said. "I've been here two and a half weeks and it has made me so much better. It's humbling, but I've also gained a lot of confidence because I am doing OK against the guys from the national and world teams."

Mathers is Desert Vista's first two-time state champion, including last year's 125-pound title, with plans on pushing it to three straight titles next high school season.

That distinction might not last long as Bambic is on the same pace after winning the 215-pound title as a sophomore.

The exposure to the nation's best this week will only increase his skills set and expand his goals.

"It's an honor to be here and I want to take full advantage," said Bambic, who will represent the country in August for the Junior Pan-Am Games. "This is where the best come to work and that's why I am here."

The week includes instructions from the national team coaches, clinics given by world team members, drilling and live wrestling with their national peers and a chance to evaluate themselves against the elite.

The closest thing wrestlers have to a professional league is mixed martial arts so Olympic dreams is about as high as one can go.

Mathers has had a chance to talk to Cejudo, the gold medalist from Arizona, who won the Olympic freestyle title in 2008, this week.

"I've talked to him before, but it is a great opportunity to see how someone from Arizona made it all the way," said Mathers, who will have spent a total of about three weeks at the OTC before he comes back to Arizona.

"When you think about all of the great wrestlers who have come through here, it makes me pretty proud to be part of it," he said.

Mathers seems to be equally adept in all aspects of the sport so his development has taken a similar path.

"I haven't concentrated on a certain area, just trying to get better at everything," he said. "I just want to take it all in and take advantage of my time here."

Bambic, who arrived Sunday, hopes this week continues his climb to being an Olympic team member.

He was ranked ninth in the nation for upcoming Olympians by USA Wrestling after the 2009-2010 season.

"I am young still but I am building toward the future," he said. "This shows I can be at this level. Getting to be here only makes me want it more."

There is some down time at times in the dorms on campus as all of the wrestlers hang out while playing things like Ping-Pong while swapping stories.

"It's a great chance to talk to others about how they do things or what drives them," he said. "It seems like we all have the same thing inside us that makes us so competitive."

Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said the fact that the Thunder have two wrestlers at the OTR is pretty special.

"They are showing everyone else in the program what can be accomplished," he said. "They'll bring that experience back with them and make everyone in the (practice) room better."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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