It’s not often when high school wrestlers can learn from a two-time national champion and someone who’s aiming to compete in the Olympics.
That’s the experience some wrestlers had Thursday when Greco Roman wrestler Mike Fuenffinger of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program held a clinic at Truman High School.
Youth and high school wrestlers got to learn new moves that are often used in the Greco Roman style (upper body moves only) and apply them to folkstyle, the brand of wrestling used at the high school level in Missouri.
Fuenffinger and another trainer held clinics at different high schools in the Kansas City area, including Fort Osage and Blue Springs, this week.
“I am out here with one of my partners, he’s the head coach for the women’s freestyle team,” said Fuenffinger, who is training to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in the 130-pound division and was a two-time national champion at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. “I showed them some moves I like to use in Greco-Roman.”
“During our off time, we go to different schools and we’ll talk to soldiers about high-level competition. We give them our spiel because not a lot of people know the Army has sports programs. We let the kids know that there are different options for them and they can still serve our country.”
Some of those advanced moves included the ball and chain tilt and an over-the-shoulder throw.
“These moves can be translated into all of the styles,” said Fuenffinger, who was also a part of the U.S. Junior World Team twice. “It was a tilt series and four throws to wow the crowd and get them excited. These are some of the high level moves that you’re going to see in Greco.”
The experience proved to be invaluable to some local wrestlers, including Van Horn sophomore Ethan Moses, who finish fifth at 106 pounds in the Class 3 Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships in February.
“It was fun. It was a good time and it was very valuable as a learning experience,” Moses said. “It’s always great to go to practice and learn from someone as successful as him. He made it to this point for a reason, and any knowledge or insight that he has is valuable information.”
Truman girls team freshman Ava Miller said she plans on using some of the moves she learned in an actual match.
“You never know if there’s something you’ll learn that sticks with you in a camp or clinic like this,” said Miller, who was a state qualifier this year. “I really wanted to come here because I love wrestling and I go to Truman.
“I will definitely work on the ball and chain. I need to work in more top moves and that’s a solid move. I will definitely work on it over the summer.”
Truman assistant coach Austin Chuning said he was glad that some of his wrestlers got training from a highly accomplished wrestler. Even he learned about some moves he didn’t know about.
“We’ve worked a tilt series before, but with those throws, that’s not something we get to a whole lot,” Chuning said. “We saw some variations of throws we haven’t seen before. It’s definitely valuable. Any time we can build up that toolbox, it’s beneficial.
“The ball and chain move where (Fuenffinger) was flipping (Truman’s Dylan McCutcheon) in the opposite direction, I honestly have never seen that before. That was pretty awesome to see. If you can’t turn your opponent, that’s a different way to do it.”