USA Wrestling NMU-OTS Blog: Final ...

NMU-OTS Blog: Final thoughts from Latvian Tournament

Dec. 15, 2014, 5:13 p.m. (ET)

By Nick Alvarez, NMU-OTS Greco-Roman wrestler, a senior from Miami, Fla., who is majoring in Political Science.

Photo of Jacob Deutschlander and Nick Alvarez of the USA receiving their bronze medals at 71 kg at the Memorial H. Kogan Tournament in Riga, Latvia. Photo courtesy of NMU-OTS Greco-Roman program

December 20 – Final thoughts from Latvian Tournament

We were wrong again. Whoever spread the rumor that their was no 55 kg succeeded. It was, in fact, contested at this tournament. Also we were told it was a 23-and-under tournament. We learned we needed to start getting better information when we saw Johan Euren, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Sweden, warming up.

A lesson we learned throughout this trip is to be prepared for anything. Being able to adapt to the situation at hand is not only important in wrestling, but also in life. Another thing that most of the team learned was how the repachage system worked. Isaiah and I were the only two who had used it before.

The way repechage works, everyone who wrestled against the finalist and lost, get to wrestle for third place against the other wrestlers the finalist beat. All other wrestlers are eliminated.

After the tournament, Coach Manukyan's brother-in-law, invited us to his night club as a kick starter to begin our night exploring Riga.

Thank you for reading my blog throughout this past week. We have posted many of the pictures and videos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of our tour of Latvia.

Oh! and we found Coach Manukyan's phone, they have it in Frankfurt.

At Riga, Latvia, Dec. 20

U.S. Greco-Roman results

60 kg/132 lbs.– Dalton Roberts, Fowlerville, Mich., 5th place
0-2 record

60 kg/132 lbs. – Andrew Ibarra, Santa Maria, Calif.
0-1 record

60 kg/132 lbs. – Alec Noa, Lombard, Ill.
0-1 record

60 kg/132 lbs.– Isaiah Varona, Miami, Fla.
1-1 record

60 kg/132 lbs. – Ty Pelot, Two Rivers, Wis.
0-1 record

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Travis Rice, Washington, Ill.
0-1 record

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Paul Rodriguez, San Jose, Calif., 5th place
0-2 record

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Jessy Williams, Windsor, N.Y.
1-1 record

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Braydon Akeo, Waianae, Hawaii
0-2 record

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Joey DeNova, Fortson, Ga., 5th place
2-2 record

71 kg/156 lbs. – Nick Alvarez, Miami, Fla., 3rd place
1-1 record

71 kg/156 lbs. – Jacob Deutschlander, Carver, Minn., 3rd place
3-1 record

71 kg/156 lbs. – Shehryar Ali Khan, Elk Grove, Calif., 5th place
1-1 record

75 kg/165 lbs. – Vinny Torres, Bay Shore, N.Y., 5th place
0-2 record

80 kg/176 lbs. – Curt Calovecchi, Marquette, Mich., 4th place
0-3 record

85 kg/187 lbs. – Brandon Marshall, Keystone Heights, Fla.
0-1 record

130 kg/286 lbs - Jheryl Makaiau, Kahuku, Hawaii
0-1 record

Teams entered: USA, Sweden, Uzbekistan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Estonia

December 19 – Weigh-in and travel day in Latvia

We could tell that breakfast was specially made for today. Bananas, ham sandwiches, and hard boiled eggs were brought to our doors. Since we had weigh-ins at 12, most of us took our food to practice.

At 10, we checked out of our community home with all of our luggage. When we got to the training center, practice was only for those who were overweight or wanted to work out. Warm up, six minutes of drilling, and a six-minute match was the practice.

While sitting around watching practice, they decided to open weigh-ins at 10:30 a.m. It was the best weigh-in ever. Instead of having to wait for it to be exactly 12 noon, they were relaxed about it.

After everyone was cleared, we had lunch at the cafe inside the training center. We had chicken, coleslaw, rice with corn, and cabbage tomato soup. When lunched was finished, we hung out at the training center waiting for a charter bus to take all of the countries to Riga.

Three hours on the bus and many bad jokes later, we arrived at the Skanste Virsotnes Lodge. The hotel made us miss our community home in Daugavpils. It’s a very plain room with a desk, a TV with 3 channels, two or three beds depending on the rooming arraignments, and a bathroom. Not to mention, we haven’t found a room with hot water.

We all them walked over to the stadium where we will be wrestling tomorrow. There we were served dinner. In the stadium, they have volleyball, indoor soccer, indoor track, judo, basketball, gymnastics, and swimming facilities. It also has great wifi.

At dinner, we were all checking our phones for the play-by-play at the Minnesota Storm Cup. For the meal, we had coleslaw, potatoes, and something our Hawaiian boys called meat jhun. Braydon and Okala described meat jhun as chicken fried in egg.

Wrestling begins at 11am (4 am EST) and the finals begin at 4 pm (9 am EST).

December 18 - Training Day 4

Today was an interesting day. When we went over to the training center and were all ready to weigh-in. All of a sudden, people started lining up for practice. Because Latvian is a completely different language than Russian, we had a miscommunication on time and dates. We thought today was weigh-ins, when in fact they are tomorrow. We also learned that 55 kg will not be a weight for this tournament.

With our hearts sunk, we sucked it up and practiced without anything in our stomachs. The Uzbek coach warmed us up again for a short practice. We did six minutes of neutral drilling. Following that, we had five three-minute matches with 30 seconds on top and 30 seconds bottom of par terre. When practice was finished, we took a group picture with all the countries and went straight to Ali Baba without a second thought.

We had what we called a pork chicken nugget, cucumbers and coleslaw. And we just kept ordering waters because after practice we were all lower than the weight we will be wrestling.

After a well-deserved lunch, we went back to the room for TV and naps.

Afternoon practice was optional soccer. Okala, Brandon, Travis, Dalton, and Ali went and they enjoyed themselves.

For dinner, they fed us pizza. A corn, ham, chicken pizza and corn, ham, chicken, and tomato pizza were the ones they brought us. Although they sound like weird toppings, it was delicious.

At exactly 9 o'clock, the wifi went out. This forced us to watch TV together in Jessy, Joey, and my room with our 75-inch TV. We were telling stories and laughing the entire time.

December 17 - Training Day 3

This morning, we had a cheese danish and coleslaw. I'm pretty sure none of us ate the coleslaw because of yesterday’s experience. On the bright side, the Danish was really good.

For practice, we had a soccer game. We split into two US teams and played against the Swedish team. The first team (my team) got beat by the Swedes 5-0. We asked to play basketball, but they said no. The second team (Vinny's team) played them and lost 4-2. After that, my team played Vinny's team and won 3-1. When soccer was done, we did a couple partner exercises and went upstairs.

Upstairs, which we had not seen yet, was an Olympic-size pool with saunas, jacuzzis, locker rooms, and five ping pong tables. The coach told us to relax and enjoy the facility.

After that, Ali Baba had soup waiting for us. For the main course, we had potatoes and beef. We then went back to the hotel. Since we had the afternoon free, we all knocked out as soon as we hit the bed.

I was woken up several hours later by Dalton, who wanted to check his weight before dinner. At 8 pm, about seven of us were awake enough to go get dinner. Coach Manukyan had requested gyros, which I thought were delicious. A few of the other guys thought otherwise.

When we returned to the room again, we went through the snapchat stories of the guys headed to the Minnesota Storm Cup and watched funny YouTube videos. We even facetimed Max Nowry. But, all in all, it was a fun day of relaxation.

December 16 - Training Day 2

Today for breakfast we had 2 pieces of bread, a small doughnut, and a coleslaw that was made of ham potatoes and peas. The doughnut was really good, but the coleslaw upset most of our stomachs, including myself, until practice.

When we walked over to the venue (the Dauvgavpils Olimpskais Centrs) this morning, Coach Manukyan told us that the stadium was built by the European Union. It's like their version of a YMCA. The stadium is separated into three quadrants. The first is a basketball gym that doubles into an indoor soccer field (which it is mostly used for), a gymnastics gym, and room with four wrestling circles.

Morning practice was led by the Uzbek coach, who ran the warm up and then told us what we were doing the rest of the time. It featured six minutes neutral drilling, followed by two minutes top and bottom, then one-minute, then 30-seconds. We did this twice and finished with 12 20-second par terre goes.

After practice, we went to Ali Baba, and had soup again, which everyone was craving, and we also had turkey with gravy, mash potatoes, and beet coleslaw.

After lunch we all had to go exchange money in order to pay our room and board fees. The banks here have been ripping us off a little bit because for every bill that has a tear or writing on it, the bankers take off 5%. We can't really fight because there is only one bank in town that will exchange with people that are not their clients. So for those reading, remember to bring crisp bills when traveling overseas.

When we got back to the room, we watched TV or took naps. The shows that they play in the mornings here are the shows they play at night in the USA. When it comes to naps, a handful of us including Isaiah, Ty, Alec, Jake, and Travis were feeling the effects of jet lag.

When we went shopping, food and water were our number one priorities, which we found relatively easy. But what we didn't expect to find was Russian National Team jackets for sale. In a flea market in a warehouse, we found a BoscoSports distributer. She had red and blue National Team warm-ups. Joey was even lucky enough to snag two warm-ups that the Russians got for the Olympics.

At afternoon practice, the Swedish coach did the warm up, then we did six minutes of neutral technique followed by 2-minute situations. In addition, 2 on 1, pinch headlock, right-side body lock, left-side body lock, and front headlock were the positions we did. After this series we had two six-minute matches.

Dinner was really good but really little. We had tea once again and pork dumplings. I felt unsatisfied because we only got three. So some of the guys went to Hesburger again.

This is going be the only day with two practices.

Dec 15 - Training Day 1

At 8:30 a.m., we woke up to the woman who let us in the hotel and brought us breakfast which was hot dogs, a cheese sandwich, and garishka (which is like a rice made of oats).

After that we watched some tv and went to sleep. At 12:30 p.m., we went to lunch at the restaurant that will feed us for the next week, called Ali Baba. We had peach tea, potato & onion soup, chicken and coleslaw.

When we had finished eating, Coach Manukyan announced that we would have practices at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Duavgavopils Sports Stadium. After the announcement, we were free to go and roam around.

Fast forwarding to practice, the teams that were there included the following: Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Bulgaria, & Uzbekistan. The head Latvian coach ran warm up. For the main part of the practice, we did six-minutes drilling neutral, and two minutes of par terre top & bottom. We did this twice and then the Lithuanian Coach had us drill combinations that he demonstrated. To finish the practice, we had 1 six-minute match with forced par tarre.

When we had finished practice, we checked weight, showered and went back to Ali Baba where we had meat pasta and tomatoes.

Dec 14 – Travel Day

We arrived in Riga to be greeted by Coach Manukyan's brother-in-law and who I think is the head Latvian coach. We then took a four-hour bus ride from Riga to Dauvgavpils.

Upon our arrival, everyone starts saying how sketchy the neighborhood looks. After about 10 minutes, a woman comes out of a car to open the door to our hotel. We enter into large beautiful suites with 2-4 beds in each room, cable tv, and even wifi. We were all relieved to have judged our living situation wrong.

Since it was early evening on a Sunday, all the banks were closed, so Coach Manukyan and his wife went and found a little fast food restaurant called "Hesburger." We then walked over as a team an enjoyed the closest thing we had to Burger King. After dinner, some of us some went exploring in the mall/grocery store next door, as other went back to the room to watch some of the few English Channels.