Wrestlers take to mat at tournament

Wrestlers take to mat at tournament

by Lance Cpl. Diamond N. Peden
Okinawa Marine Staff

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan - Standing hunched over, elbows tucked close to his sides, he suddenly lunged forward, dropping his weight low to the ground, reaching around his imaginary opponent’s neck, grabbing it, and spinning to the ground.

Standing up, the athlete shook out his arms. Taking a confident stance, he started another round of shadowboxing before the competition began.

Scenes like this unfolded during the Marine Corps Community Services-sponsored Futenma Athletics Open Wrestling Tournament, which was available to all service members, dependents and contractors, Jan. 4 at the Semper Fit Gym on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The double-elimination freestyle wrestling tournament was divided into five weight divisions: 145.5, 163, 185, 210 and 210.1-264 pounds. Within each division, there was a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner.

“Last year, we had about 45–participants, and so far this year, it looks like we’ll have more,” said D. Houston Merritt, a sports coordinator at the gym. “It’s a good turnout. The Marines seem to enjoy it.”

To supervise and score the matches, the referees used the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles as their rulebook and guide.

“Takedowns are worth two points, reversals are worth two points and if you hold your opponent in a danger position, with their back exposed to the mat, that’s two points,” said Steve C. Schrock, a referee at the tournament. “If you hold your opponent in that way for an extra five seconds you get a bonus point for that. Then when both shoulder blades touch the mat, the match is over.”

Even if the opponent lost their first match within the double elimination rules, they still had a chance to come out on top.

“The main reason for (the double elimination) is that it gives everybody more chances to wrestle,” said Schrock. “It’s a tough sport. To be good at it, you have to be dedicated, in good condition, and you have got to be tough.”

For the wrestlers, it gave them something to work toward, mentally and physically, according to Lance Cpl. Philip A. Rickenbach, a competitor in the 145.5 pound division and an aerial gunner with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, currently assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.

“Wrestling keeps you fit, it makes a mental discipline of what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish with the goals that you’ve set,” said Rickenbach. “It’s a sport that keeps on building on itself and that’s why I like it.”

The wrestlers were able to be confident in their abilities on the mat, pinpoint their weaknesses to work on, and prepare themselves for next year, according to Rickenbach.

“I know that I did my best and will try harder next year,” said Rickenbach. “Just the fact that I gained more experience is the biggest thing right there. It’s what I took away from this.”

1st place winners
145.5 lbs: Lance Cpl. Scott W. Stout Jr.
163 lbs: Tanner Stamper
185 lbs: Lance Cpl. Matthew G. Kent
210 lbs: Michael Wagner
210.1-264 lbs: Sgt. Johnathon R. Robinson

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