JR WORLD BLOG (update 8/10) – Be proud of this U.S. FILA Junior World Freestyle Team!!!

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Aug. 04, 2014, 3:14 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, August 10 – Trying to wrap things up here, with my plane back to the USA in just a few hours. Nothing is packed yet, and I’d really like to get a little sleep. Some things will just have to wait until we get back to the office, but I did want to do one last blog post.

Most people don’t realize just how hard it is to win a World Team Title in wrestling at any level. Let’s give it some perspective. I have worked at USA Wrestling for 26 years. In my time, I have seen two USA teams win World Team Trials in the Olympic styles, the 1993 Men’s Freestyle Team in Toronto, Canada and the 1995 Men’s Freestyle Team in Atlanta, Ga. (I’m not counting the Grappling World Team titles I was witness to). In fact, in all of American wrestling history, we only have won four Senior World Titles, with the Women’s Team Title in 1999 and the Greco-Roman World Team Title in 2007. (I wasn’t at those events). I kind of wonder if there is any person one earth who was at all four of our U.S. World Team Titles.

Earlier this summer, our World University Freestyle Team won a World Team title over in Pecs, Hungary. We tried to find in the records if we ever did that before, and nobody believes we have done that.

Now we come to Zagreb, Croatia, and our Men’s Freestyle FILA Junior World Team placed a strong second, with six medalists in the eight weight class. Tied in third after one day, the team put all four of its wrestlers on Sunday into the medal rounds, and all four won a medal. We didn’t catch Iran for the title, but it got close, and the coaches and the media were counting the points between sessions to see if it was possible.

Before the finals, I was talking with Coach Brandon Slay and Willie Saylor from FloWrestling, looking at all of the things that happened, the ups and downs of the tournament. We started talking about this match, that move, that official’s call, that decision. But, we also came to the conclusions that these things happen to every team and that no team survives this kind of intense event without some things going unexpectedly wrong. The woulda, coulda, shoulda talk is not even worth the time. Instead, we talked about just how good this team was.

We had a FILA Junior World Freestyle Team to be proud of, one that almost pulled off a historic performance. Six medals – that is tremendous. Seven wrestlers qualifying for medal matches and all eight wrestlers in the top nine of their weight class. A combined record over two days of 28-9. This was a second place performance that showed off the best of American wrestling.

It was a team of talent, that trained hard and wrestled with intensity and focus. We should also be proud of the coaches, the personal coaches, the parents, the officials and everybody who came over here as part of the USA delegation. These wrestlers were outstanding this week, and all have bright futures as they move up to the Senior level.

Do you wonder about how our future looks like in freestyle? We won the University World Team title, we were second in the FILA Junior World Championships and we were third in the FILA Cadet World Championships. We won a trophy in all three major age-group World events. I would say our pipeline is certainly stocked up.

I am really hoping I get to see another American team win a World Team title sometime soon – Why not in September in Uzbekistan?

Saturday, August 9 –
The U.S. Junior World freestyle team got a strong start here in Croatia, and showed the kind of talent that our nation can produce at this level. Although the morning session could have been even better, Team USA placed three of its four wrestlers into medal matches, with an impressive 11-3 record during the preliminary rounds.

The first American to reach the finals (on the fifth day here) was exciting Joey McKenna, the Blair product who has been outstanding in freestyle all season. McKenna seemed to get better as he went, winning his first two matches by decision, then getting a quarterfinal tech fall and a semifinal pin. While the fans may have been focusing on other athletes in anticipation of the Junior Worlds, McKenna has taken care of his business, peaking right when it matters.

McKenna lost a hard-fought final to Iran in the finals. Although McKenna was close throughout the match, he was never really able to get his offense untracked. It was 4-0 in the second period, when time was running out, and McKenna tried a throw, giving up four-points in desperation. The final 8-0 score is misleading. After the match, McKenna said this Iranian wrestled differently than the other opponents, not only stopping all of his best stuff, but also not getting tired like some of the others. McKenna says the loss will motivate him for next year, which he will spend wrestling freestyle fulltime in a year off from college competition.

Kyle Snyder’s attempt for a second straight Junior World title was derailed in the quarterfinals by tough Russian Gergii Gogaev. This is the same wrestler who won the 2014 Senior-level Dave Schultz Memorial with an 11-0 technical fall over America’s No. 2 at the weight class, Dustin Kilgore. After this tournament, Snyder indicated that he may have given Gogaev too much respect, and that when he wrestles him again, he will bring something different to the table. Snyder came back strong by winning both of his next two bouts, including dominating a tough Iranian in the bronze-medal match. Snyder is heading to Ohio State next, and let it be known that he will not redshirt next year. His next mission is helping the Buckeyes win the NCAA team title.

Both McKenna and Snyder are class acts, people who seem to be in total control of their emotions even in defeat, and have an intelligent calm around themselves in the chaos that is international wrestling.

Young Jabari Moody had an exciting day, going 2-2 to place fifth at 55 kg. His first two wins were wild matches, with lots of points scored by both wrestlers. Moody kept coming back with more technique and attacks and was not rattled when his opponent scored on him. Moody was beaten in the semifinals by a tough athlete from Uzbekistan, then was handled in the bronze bout by a tough Iranian. Although he was disappointed, Moody showed strong skills and potential. Coach Brandon Slay says that if Moody chooses to do some things differently moving forward, he is capable of competing for a Junior World title.

Anthony Valencia came out on fire, winning his first two bouts at 74 kg by technical fall. In the third round, he was also looking strong, when a Turk caught him with a lateral drop and pinned him. The Turk made the semis but lost, which meant no repechage for Valencia, who ended up ninth. Valencia is truly a talent, and I can’t wait to see how much better he will get in the future.

There are two things that we have not seen all week which would be wonderful on the last day of competition. We have not heard the U.S. national anthem during the awards ceremonies, because we have not had a Junior World champion. We have also not had a U.S. team place in the top three and take home a team trophy.

The opportunity is there. With three guys with extensive international experience on the mat (Aaron Pico, Adam Coon and Thomas Gilman), plus a rising star in Gabe Dean, anything is possible. Any one of these wrestlers could win an individual World title. The USA was tied in third after day one with Turkey, behind Iran and Russia. And if all four American get on a run on Sunday, which U.S. teams are fully capable of doing here, there may be a team trophy in our near future. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Friday, August 8 –
The last few days, seeing a variety of matches in the Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle tournaments here in Zagreb, Croatia, I can’t help but notice all the matches that end up as pins (I know, many like to call them falls…) It seems that at any point of any match, an athlete might throw or get thrown, with the match ending with a pin.

Two pins stuck out in my mind today from the U.S. women’s team. Our first match featured Cody Pfau, an experienced international wrestler who was fifth here at the Junior Worlds last year. Pfau came out and immediately shot a double leg takedown, lifting her Russian opponent up in the air. The Russian hooked one of Cody’s legs, and when she tried to take her to the mat, it was the Russian who ended up on top, with Cody on her back. The fall was called in 36 seconds. Cody never got to wrestle again.

Another example was Becka Leathers match in the repechage against a Canadian opponent. Leathers lost a tough 4-4 match to a tough Ukrainian, but was pulled back into the repechage when her opponent made the finals. She had new life, a chance for a bronze. Becka came out and pressed the action, but suddenly the Canadian nailed a headlock and it was quickly over in 41 seconds. That ended Becka’s day.

Not all of the pins happen to our athletes. In fact, in today’s women’s event, the U.S. won two of its bouts by pin. Yesterday, our two bronze medalists, Marina Doi and Kayla Miracle, scored pins in each of their bronze medal matches. Miracle had three pins for the day. Winning or losing by fall goes both ways.

Some of the pins happen when one of the wrestlers give up. It might be on a great throw. Or perhaps the opponent has just scored late in the match, and an athlete knows they can’t come back to win. The pin which Kayla Miracle scored in her bronze-medal bout against Romania was like that. Miracle kept on the pressure and scored often, and her opponent screamed out in pain from an elbow injury but kept coming back to wrestling. When Miracle took her down the last time, which would have been a technical fall, the Romanian just laid down on the mat and Miracle got the win by fall.

Another example was in the last U.S. women’s match, when Victoria Francis took on the German for a bronze medal. Francis started piling up points and in the closing seconds, the referee called a pin as she was also earning a technical fall. I didn’t know which way it went, until I read the official results and found out it was a tech. The pin must have come too late for the buzzer.

International referees are quick to call a pin when an athlete is near their back. It may not be a touch fall but it is sure quick. Once you get turned you have to be very, very careful or you may be done. When coaches tell their athletes not to put the match in the hands of the referee, one of the most important things to do is to stay off your back.

Which brings us back to Adam Coon, our bronze medalist in Greco. Coon was put on his back by a big Korean opponent early in the match. He fought for a long time, staying mostly on his side while working to get out of there. For one quick second, he rolled through to the other side, and then he was out of danger. It ended up working for him, as he came back to win the match. However, referees could have called him pinned as he got out, a scary situation for all the American delegation.

Speaking of pins, the women’s preliminary session on Friday ended about one hour before it did on Thursday. We weren’t sure why, but it could have been that there were more pins. Either way, I was done with my stories and had my videos posted about an hour earlier than other days.

My friend Josip Mrkosi is from Canada, and runs the Commonwealth Games wrestling competition. He has worked hard to promote wrestling, often writing his own press releases and making sure people are aware of things going on. He is also a native Croatian, with his home town just about 40 kilometers from Zagreb. Josip has been a wealth of information about this country, its people and its history.

When Josip saw we had an extra hour between sessions, he invited me to go with him downtown. His sister lives in Zagreb and he was borrowing her car for the week. I hadn’t done anything of interest except wrestling stuff, so I jumped in and we went on a tour of the historic buildings and parks in this interesting city. Josip had a lot of stories for me as we went through the downtown streets. We parked the car (probably illegally) in the old part of town, and had a chance to visit the outdoor food market, the city’s center square, as well as its amazing cathedral. I enjoyed going inside the cathedral, which was very beautiful, and full of people worshiping. We were able to get back to the arena prior to the men’s freestyle weigh-in, which allowed me to interview Coach Mike Duroe and get the draws before the women’s finals session. Thanks Josip!!

Saturday starts the men’s freestyle competition. Expect the intensity to go up, just like it always does during the freestyle tournament. Returning Junior World champion Kyle Snyder headlines the four Americans on the mat. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7 –
Writing a blog on an international trip can be fun, but sometimes, it is very difficult to find the time to actually sit down and write it. Today was one of those days, with non-stop work either here at the event, or back home at the office. Rather than write during the break between the sessions, today’s blog will have to wait until after the women’s first set of finals, later in the evening.

The plan was to give some random thoughts on things going on here. Some days, instead of some big news or interesting situation, there is just a variety of things that add up to the experience at hand.

• Adam Coon is a kid who just loves to wrestle. It doesn’t matter the style. He likes competition and testing himself. His bronze-medal performance on Wednesday was a big boost to the U.S. Greco delegation. You could see it when he came into the warmup area after his pin of Japan for the bronze and celebrated with his friends. Although he made some mistakes and has areas he can improve, Coon was upbeat, and now looking forward to switching to freestyle.

• They call this a World Championships for a reason. It is not one tournament, so the word must be plural. It is actually three different tournaments. Although I am here all week, I am working with three different teams with three different sets of coaches, parents and fans. Yesterday was a transition day, where we finished up the Greco, and weighed in the first group of women freestylers. It helps that we get to work with most of these people at other events, but you have to remind yourself that each style is a different challenge and a different opportunity. It kind of keeps you on your toes for sure.

• How about that Azerbaijan Greco Team? Six finalists and five champions in just eight weight classes and a run-away team title. This is a nation in which most Americans could not find on a map, and fewer could spell correctly. But in wrestling, Azerbaijan is a major-league power and everybody knows about them. They are serious about their wrestling. And they do it in all three styles. Trust me, I have had to type Azerbaijan as much in recent years as any country on the globe. Thumbs up to their Greco dominance.

• One of the challenges of getting video from every American wrestler at an event like this when you are doing it yourself is when two Americans are on the mat at the same time. When I first tried this event, I used to use one camera and go back and forth. Then I would try to shoot with two cameras, one in each hand. Neither very good. So I learned to ask for help. In the past, the Team Leader, or a friendly parent, or somebody who was there as a fan, would help me. Today, right off the bat, two U.S. women were wrestling at the same time, both match No. 2 on their mat. I got help today from Eugene Doi, father of the Doi sisters, who helped with some match taping when I needed it. I expect to have similar challenges tomorrow with the women, and also with men’s freestyle. If we are wrestling well, there are lots of matches, and more opportunity to have two (or even three) U.S. people on at the same time.

• Speaking of dominance, Japan got off to a flying start in women’s freestyle, taking three of the four Junior World gold medals on day one. As time goes on, and more of the longtime superstars on the Japanese Senior Team retire, we have been expecting that Japan’s grip on women’s wrestling might slip. There have been some age-group events where Japan has not done as well as they used to. However, today’s showing makes those expectations (or wishes) a bit premature. There is no doubt that there is more depth, with more talented athletes from more nations than ever before in women’s wrestling. Yet, Japan is still holding that edge. Nobody told this Japanese Junior team that they were not supposed to be the best.

• Because I find it has been more effective to do the bulk of my work each night after finals at the arena, I have walked home every night to the hotel. The transportation organized for the event has gone away when I am ready to go. The nights here have been very pleasant, and it seems people like being out at the cafes and on the streets during a summer evening. They have a trolley system running on the streets, which makes it look like this is a very transportation friendly city for those who live here. I get a ton of exercise walking all over the arena each day, but the walk back to the hotel has been a nice way to unwind a bit.

Wednesday, August 6 (morning)–
Woke up to some bad news this morning. A good friend, and a man who was very active in international wrestling for a long time, Set Agonian from New York City, passed away. Set was a good man with a big heart and a love for wrestling, and was not somebody who was afraid to speak his mind or get involved when he felt he could make a difference.

Set was from Bulgaria, but he also had roots in Armenia, and had connections everywhere. But in his heart, Set was an American and a New Yorker, through and through. He had a business in Queens where he made amazing art out of medal and steel, the kind of things you would find outside skyscrapers. He was active with the Metropolitan Wrestling Association, the New York Athletic Club and USA Wrestling.

Set was a big figure in getting the 2003 World Wrestling Championships to New York City, after our 2001 Worlds were canceled because of 9/11. He made it his personal mission to bring the event back, convincing the Slovakian Federation and its Olympic Committee to release the freestyle worlds to the USA to help commemorate those lost on September 11 and as a sign of international camaraderie. That is what Set was about, friendship through wrestling, and bringing people together from all nations. He had an accent from the old land, and could talk your ear off on the phone, something that I will surely miss now that he has left us. Dave Foxen sent a memo letting us know Set was at the NYAC, the place that he loved, when he passed away. I think that was appropriate.

This isn’t the first time I have lost a friend while covering a Junior World Championships. Back in 2007, when I was at the Junior Worlds in Beijing, China, my college wrestling teammate Tod Giles passed away. Like Set, Tod was also active with USA Wrestling on the national level, somebody who was making a difference in our sport. At that event, I was helping the Chinese federation cover the competition, as it was the test event for the 2008 Olympics. There was absolutely no way I could get back for Tod’s funeral, which was quite sad for me, and I feel the same way about Set’s passing also. Like I did for Tod, I will keep Set’s love of wrestling with me throughout the week, as I work among the many people from different countries here in Croatia. Wrestling is a big international family, something which Set helped teach me in my job with USA Wrestling. That spirit will be with me this week.

Speaking of Mr. International Goodwill, referee Rusty Davidson is here this week. You may have been enjoying his farewell tour blog this summer on TheMat.com. Rusty is reaching the mandatory retirement age for international referees, and he has been all over Europe this summer, working various tournaments, spending time with friends and writing a daily blog. Rusty understands the spirit of the wrestling family, that there is so much more going on than just winning or losing matches. It is really all about the people you meet and the things that you are able to do through wrestling. Rusty’s wife Eva is here for this portion of his journey, and it was nice to see them when they were at the arena yesterday. I told Rusty I was not going to hang around with him this week, because I don’t want to duplicate what he writes in his blog.

Really, when you are on an international trip, it is all about enjoying the small moments. We are very busy all day doing the wrestling, and in my role, the day starts very early and goes very late. It is making sure to appreciate those times away from the action that adds flavor to these trips and to this lifestyle. Last night after the Greco finals, instead of finding transportation back to the hotel, I walked back with some of the Greco athletes and coaches. As I am older, in worse shape and carrying a computer and three cameras, I could not keep up with those young people. Coach Dale Oliver slowed down and walked with me, and we talked about a wide variety of different things. Dale was a top Greco wrestler when I was hired at USA Wrestling in 1988, and he has been an active and successful coach in our Greco program for a long time. We shared some stories, had some laughs, and the walk was not very long at all.

The small moments happen in social places, like at breakfast prior to going to the arena. Sitting with people like Rob Hermann, Brandon Slay, Dan Coon, Ryan Ostapovich, Mike Duroe, Troy Nickerson and others over eggs and tea is a great way to start the day. Sitting on the bus and shooting the breeze as you roll through a new city is also one of those opportunities. There really is no way to know what is going to happen on the mats each day here. That is really up to the athletes and to fate. But making sure to enjoy the times with the people who share wrestling as a passion is what makes this life journey something to respect and cherish.

Tuesday, August 5 –
My suitcase was waiting in the lobby for me when I woke up, so the day started strong. I fought the alarm clock for 45 minutes, but still was able to get going to meet the team for 7 a.m. breakfast and an 8 a.m. bus ride to the arena. As usual, the USA was the first at the venue, and besides a team of volunteers in red shirts, nobody was there.

First order of business is figuring out where media can work. There is a media workroom here with hardwire internet, but apparently nowhere inside the arena to work. The venue is a hockey rink, and the side boards are still in the area. The field of play is inside the boards, as if the wrestlers are hockey players.

The perfect area for press is way on the top, where there are tabled areas and electricity, and a wireless that seems to work. It is marked off as a VIP area. All of the press have a 2 on their credential, which gives access VIP areas. I tried to get some advice from Tim Foley and Bill May, who are here covering for FILA, but they didn’t know where we could work.

Tim talked to the locals running the event after we set up. There was some jibber – jabber about whether we can stay there, but it ended up being OK. The tournament director has allowed us to be here for now. My friend Hadi, the announcer from Iran has now joined us, as well as the German contingent, probably a dozen press. I can tweet and shoot video from this location. The only problem is I am away from the team. But I am not afraid to do a few stairs.

The Greco coaching staff is a good group, with USOEC (now called USOTS for U.S. Olympic Training Site) coach Rob Hermann, veteran coach Dale Oliver and coach David Beazley from Michigan. I have worked with them all in the past, and they are on top of things. They had their work cut out for them, with three Russians right off the bat.

It ended up being a rough morning for the USA. All three of our athletes competing against Russians in round one lost their bouts, Josiah Seaton at 50 kg, Dante Rodriguez at 60 kg and Kevin Beazley at 96 kg. Of these wrestlers, Beazley had the best chance, jumping to a 2-0 lead and competing hard, but once he got behind, he gave up points trying to force the action. Normally, Russia is very strong at this event. However, all three of the Russians we drew were unable to reach the finals, knocking our boys out.

Jon Jay Chavez, the Cadet World medalist last year, came out strong with a win over Poland. His second match was a close 3-0 loss to a Romanian, who kept Chavez from getting into his offense. This was an opponent we were capable of beating, and it ended up poorly, because the Romanian was also unable to make the finals. Our first day ended way too quickly.

Coach Rob Hermann, who runs our USOTS program at Northern Michigan, didn’t candy-coat things in the post-session interview. He says that at this event, the U.S. Greco athletes have to beat the opponents who are close in ability, and upset a few others if they want to medal. He was familiar with many of the athletes from other teams who were reaching the medal rounds, having seen them at Junior-level tournaments in Europe. Hermann says that our young Greco-Roman wrestlers must get out of the country more in order to be serious threats at the FILA Junior level. He believes the U.S. athletes going tomorrow have a bit more international experience, which may help our performance.

There’s one new thing from FILA this year. In recent years, they started the competition in the afternoon, then everybody had to power through the day with little or no break. This year, they are starting the wrestling at 10:00 a.m., and finishing the first session by 3:00 p.m. or earlier. The next session is not until 7:00 p.m., with next day weighins at 6:00 p.m. This gives the athletes, coaches and fans a nice little break, something we have not been able to do in recent years, especially in Greco-Roman.

I am in a darkened arena mostly by myself at 3:46 p.m., listening to some Europop on the PA system. Today, I decided to stay here, rather than find my way back to the hotel, although I may change that protocol in upcoming days. This is a perfect time to finish off the blog and catch up on other work not related to the Junior Worlds. I grabbed something to eat at the little café outside of the arena.

Tonight, I will attend weighins, then shoot video of the gold medal matches for our fans to enjoy. There is a live webcast, but not everybody is going to stay up all night back in the states to see the action live. Our goal is to post all the U.S. matches on USA Wrestling’s YouTube Channel, interview coaches and athletes who reach medal rounds, post the gold-medal matches, write weigh-in stories and session wraps, tweet out results, and more. There’s a lot to do, and here’s hoping I will be even more busy than today, covering U.S. athletes who come home with medals. We have some very talented men and women on this Junior team, so we are capable of making some big news. This tournament is a lot tougher than people back home might believe, but if our athletes are prepared, they can get the job done.

Sunday, August 3 and Monday, August 4 –
This is one of those double days when you travel from the USA to Europe and two days blend together. I started the day Sunday morning in Colorado Springs, with a morning walk and some final packing with my wife Pat. The day ended Monday night in Zagreb, Croatia, trying to push through another half hour before a hard crash.

I decided on the trip from the Springs to Croatia to do another blog at Junior Worlds. Last year, we strung Cadet and Junior Worlds back-to-back in Serbia and Bulgaria, and a blog was well received. This time, it’s just one event, but a big one for USA Wrestling, the FILA Junior Worlds.

It was a bit of a clunky travel day and a half. When I got to the Springs airport, the computers wouldn’t issue me my boarding passes because they wanted a visa to Croatia. Well, Americans don’t need a visa for Croatia if they stay less than 90 days. Somehow, the United system couldn’t find my return date, so they didn’t know how long I was staying, and automatically wanted a visa. Ironically, when they looked, they could see my return itinerary. It took some phone calls and supervisor approvals, but I got my boarding passes after a bit of a delay.

I connected in Chicago to go to Zurich, and it was the first time I had ever flown out of the international terminal in O’Hare. Have flown into it, and have also flown internationally from one of the normal terminals. I had to go out of the terminal, take a train, go through security again before I could get to the plane, which was SWISS air.

The flight was fine, except for some reason in recent years, I can’t sleep on planes anymore. More than eight hours and no ability to sleep. Tried some movie about a young women private eye, but lost interest in less than an hour. I did find on the music channel a CD of Led Zeppelin called Mothership, which had over two-hours of great classic Zeppelin. Relived my childhood and teen years while trying to get tired. I did get maybe an hour of shuteye, but it was more like passing out than resting.

As we were approaching Zurich, the pilot announced would be delayed 10-15 minutes. They also started displaying the connections and I noticed Zagreb was the first one. I knew quickly it would be a tight connection. My flight to Zagreb left at 11:45 a.m., but had to check in 10 minutes before flight which pushed it back to 11:35 a.m. We were not onto the runway until after 11:00 a.m. Of course we flew into the E concourse, and my plane was in D terminal, in the opposite end of the airport. And of course I was sitting almost in the back of the plane. I really had to hustle off the plane, to a train, through another security section, and run down a long hallway to get to my gate with a minute or two to spare. There were four of us that just got there in time, and a small van took us out onto the far end of the runway to the Slovakia Air plane, which had big propellers. I made it.

Of course, when we landed in Zagreb, my baggage did not make the connection. Oh well. This has not happened to me for so long on an overseas flight, I can’t remember the last time. People have bags delayed all the time. It was my turn.

I immediately appreciated the people in Croatia. Seemed everywhere I went, people spoke great English. The kid waiting at the wrestling booth at the airport. The clerk in the lost baggage office. The young wrestler who drove the transport from the airport to the arena for the local hosts. All spoke wonderful English and made me feel at home. I feel so inadequate at times like this when I realize I only speak one language.

On the ride to town, the driver told me he once trained on the Croatian Junior team at the OTC in Colorado Springs and he loved it there. He also said Zagreb had a little over a million people, not to small but not too big. A wealth of information. I first went to the arena, got my credential and hotel voucher, then another volunteer drove me to the Westin, where the USA team is staying.

As I pulled up to the hotel, members of the USA Greco team, and a few of the women’s team, were waiting out front, heading over for meetings, weigh-ins and workouts. I checked in, took a short walk to a bank to exchange money and a market to get some water, then secured some transportation back to the venue to cover weighins.

I got to the venue in time to watch the weigh-in and draw, interview Coach Dale Oliver and athlete Kevin Beazley, watch and film a little of the U.S. women’s team practice, visit with a variety of friends at the event, and get back to the hotel before dinner.

On these long first days, you try to stay up as late as possible, so you can get back onto the correct time zone. I went to dinner, where the food was great and I got to sit with some of the parents who are here supporting their U.S. Junior wrestlers. (The food was quite good this evening). Eating made me even more tired, so I made a list of things to do, like posting a few stories and videos, to try to make it to 9:00 p.m. It is 8:53 at this time, and I still need to crop a photo and post the story, so I will reach my target bedtime. And I am exhausted to the point, I know I will sleep just fine.

Hopefully by tomorrow I am acclimated to the time zone. And hopefully my luggage arrives. Either way, we get started with four wrestlers on Tuesday, including three matchups with Russia in the first round. Stay tuned.

USA Wrestling Director of Communications Gary Abbott will blog during the 2014 FILA Junior Worlds in Zagreb, Croatia.