Navy takes third for Freestyle wrestling at Armed Forces Championship

Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Cory Asato, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

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LAKEHURST, N.J. – The All-Navy Wrestling team earned third place in Freestyle wrestling at the 2017 Armed Forces Championship, hosted by the U.S. Air Force, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Feb. 26.

The competition was held over two days with Saturday featuring Greco-Roman wrestling and Freestyle Sunday. Navy had a silver medalist at 57kg for Freestyle and two Sailors qualify for the U.S. World Team Trials by taking third in the 98kg and 130kg weight classes for Greco-Roman.

“Never did anybody give up here,” said James Senn, All-Navy Sports director. “Our Sailors, and Coastie, exceeded my expectations. They were a little behind the eight ball going against two year-round camps [in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and All-Marine Corps wrestling teams]. They were all as fit as anyone in here with just barely a months camp under their belt.”

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael John Hollingsworth, a Lorain, Ohio, native stationed with Naval Hospital Jacksonville, returned to the team after having broken his ankle early the previous season to earn the silver medal at 57kg in Freestyle.

“Being a part of the 2017 All-Navy Wrestling team has been an unbelievable experience,” said Hollingsworth. “I have met some great people and together we were able to progress and meet goals we set to reach. Thanks to my coaches for the support through my journey with faith and wrestling! Go Navy!”

Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Antonio “Tony” Harris, a Camden, Delaware, native stationed with Assault Craft Unit Five, qualified for blank at 98kg in Greco-Roman while Operations Specialist 2nd Class Zachariah “Heavy Z” Manning captured the same feat at 130kg.

“I’ve had a great time training for the Armed Forces Championship, but it’s not over,” said Harris. “The 2020 Olympic games, in Tokyo, is right around the corner so I need to be on top of my game learning from my matches and fellow teammates. I’ll tell anyone this is a road that many do not want to travel, but for me it’s well worth it and I’m excited to be on this path.”

It always comes down to the individual, according to Chief Navy Diver Ale Delapeña III, a Benton City, Washington native stationed at Undersea Warfare Center, Division Keyport and All-Navy Wrestling head coach. “Day in and day out, our Sailors make decisions, life decisions that will have them floundering where they’re at or mold them into champions. We all hold the keys to our success.”

Soldiers and Marines competing with their respective all-service wrestling teams have to qualify among fellow service members who hold national titles and international accolades to even qualify to be on their team. The hardship with being on the All-Navy wrestling team is viewed by some as keeping active and staying motivated, many times without proper equipment or training partners, while at their parent commands year round, for the sport of wrestling.

“I’ve been stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain for almost the past year,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Bobby Yamashita, a Glenndale, Colorado, native who’s been training and competing for the all-navy team for 6 years and competed on an international level at Conseil International du Sport Militaire, as known as the World Military Games, for Armed Forces Judo a total of four years. “I rarely get the chance to train on my working days, which often turn into 16 hour days due to turn over, but I take every chance I reasonably get to stay active and keep my body in top form.”

“There’s no partners who focus who the sports I compete in so I keep my speed, athleticism and flexibility in top shape by focusing on movement with weight training,” said Yamashita. “Lifting weights is easy so I life weights with the purpose of emulating throwing someone who’s trying to throw you always using conventional means of training to simulate unconventional movements.”

Sailors competing for the Navy came with the mentality to turn every match into a dogfight being at a natural disadvantage due to a reduced training camp length and competition opportunity compared to their service counterparts.

“It’s bang or get banged,” said Navy Diver 3rd Class Blake Borges, a Forestville, California, native stationed at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One. “You have to bang your bang [and bring the fight to them, no one is going to wait for you or give you a chance, this is wrestling].”

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