Three wrestlers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program earned spots on Team USA for the World Championships at the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials, June 21-22.
Sgt. Spenser Mango, Spc. Justin Lester and Spc. Caylor Williams will compete Sept. 16-22, at the 2013 International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles Wrestling World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
An unprecedented eight Soldiers reached the finals of the U.S. World Team Trials, including four in two weight classes, ensuring that at least two Army wrestlers would make Team USA.
Mango, a two-time Olympian who will be making his fourth appearance at the World Championships, won two straight matches against WCAP teammate Sgt. Nate Engel in the best-of-three finals of the Greco-Roman 55-kilogram/121-pound division.
Lester, a 2012 Olympian who earned his sixth trip to the World Championships, defeated WCAP teammate Pfc. Ellis Coleman in two consecutive matches in the 66-kilogram/145.5-pound Greco-Roman division.
“I’ve just been feeling good,” Lester said. “I’m having fun again, and that’s what it’s all about. When I’m having fun, I’m wrestling well. Still got awhile to go — got to get my offense clicking. Obviously my lungs are back. Just get my moves clicking and I’m going to be ready to go by Budapest.”
Lester welcomed Coleman’s move into his weight class and onto the Army WCAP squad.
“He’s somebody else I have to beat,” Lester said. “It’s great for him because he’s a ‘tweener’ like me, but he’s young, so he made the right move in going up. Just [unfortunate] that I’m there, too. We’re going to be battling until these shoes are off, but until then, I expect him to push me, and I’m going to push him to make him a better wrestler.”
Williams, 22, a 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, prevailed in two matches against New York Athletic Club’s Marcus Finau in the Greco-Roman 96-kilogram/211.5 pound class.
“The same way I came into this tournament — nobody knew who I was, I wasn’t a favorite — that’s the same way I feel about the Worlds,” Williams said. “The number one guys from Russia, Cuba, Hungary — I’m ready to wrestle all of them. I’ve wanted to make the national team and the world team for a long time.”
WCAP head wrestling coach Shon Lewis is glad to have Williams on his squad.
“He’s so explosive,” Lewis said. “He’s one of our new guns, and we’re happy to have him. He’s working hard, and he’s hungry. As long as he stays hungry, and he stays humble, I think he’s going to do great things.’
Three other Soldiers reached the finals and will serve as alternates for the World Championships: Capt. Jon Anderson, Spc. Peter Hicks and Pfc. Whitney Conder.