The Army Wrestling Team overcame the Marine Corps’ home field advantage to win both the Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines at the 2014 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship Tournament, hosted by Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, at the Goettge Memorial Field house, March 7 and 8.
Uniform and rank were discarded as Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy wrestlers hit the mat to battle it out, in hopes of the ultimate goal; qualifying for the 29th World Military Wrestling Championship.
The Army won its 12th straight Armed Forces Wrestling title by holding off the hard-hitting Marine Corps team that was anxious to put forth a strong showing in front of fellow Marines.
Air Force and Navy wrestlers finished third and fourth respectively.
“I’m proud they fought hard and were able to compete on home turf and demonstrate some Marine Corps values. We went out there, overcame the odds and demonstrated our strength as wrestlers and Marines,” said Jason Loukides, Marine Corps wrestling coach. “It was really great to be able to do that in front of fellow Marines.”
The two-day competition consisted of three rounds of Greco-Roman style on day one, and three rounds of freestyle wrestling on day two.
Round one of the first day’s matches resulted in a major defeat by the Army, 35-0 over the Navy; and a big win for the Marines against the Air Force, 33-3.
In the second round, the Army once again pulled big numbers, defeating the Air Force 33-1. The Marines also triumphed with a 31-1 win over the Navy.
The championship rounds of the Greco-Roman AFWC brought Marines and the Army head-to-head to determine gold and silver medalists, while the Navy and Air Force teams fought for third and fourth place.
After a long hard battle, the Army overcame the Marines, winning 24-6. The Air Force took third, beating the Navy 20-17.
“We expected the Army to bring their best fight,” said Loukides. I think our guys did well though. They fought hard. You can control the fight, but you can’t always control the outcome.”
Day two started at 9 a.m. and things quickly began to heat up as the freestyle matches kicked off.
During the first round, the Navy team fell hard against the Army, losing 36-1, while the Marine team declared victory against the Air Force, 34-4.
In round two, the Army once again pulled big numbers, defeating the Air Force, 34-0. The Marines defeated the Navy, 29-8.
Round three resulted in another win for the Army, defeating the Marines 28-7. The Air Force and Navy battled it out and with a close call, the Air Force won 19-17.
“We have some really great wrestlers. It was impressive,” said Loukides. “We of course hoped to win, but we fought hard and well. I was excited when, in the freestyle event, (Bryce) Saddoris overcame Ellis Coleman, who had defeated him the previous day during the Greco-Roman match. It showed a lot of heart that he was able to step up and do what he had to.”
Despite taking silver for the team match, Marines earned four gold medals in individual matches. Donald Simmons took the honor in the Greco-Roman style for 98-kg weight class, as did David Arendt, who wrestled in the 130-kg weight class. In the freestyle matches, Aaron Kalil took gold in the 61-kg weight class as did Bryce Saddoris who fought for the 65-kg weight class.
In addition to winning gold, the four aforementioned wrestlers, along with Joseph Forman, a wrestler in the 70-kg weight class, qualified to be part of the U.S. Armed Forces Wrestling Team and will compete at the CISM World Military Championship in October, at Fort Dix, N.J.
The event was last held at Camp Lejeune in 2010. Since then the base has become home field for the Marine Corps Wrestling Team.
“Overall, I was really proud of the effort and fight our guys brought to the match,” said Loukides.
For more information on Armed Forces Wrestling, visit www.armedforcessports.defense.gov.