COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, UNITED STATES
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Fans cheered throughout the gymnasium, as two men stepped onto a mat and faced off on opposite sides of a circle.
The referee gave each contestant a brief pat-down and lifted his hand in the air. Glancing at both men, he swiftly lowered his arm to signify the wrestling match had begun.
Capt. Derek Moore, field artillery officer, 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, competed in the Dave Schultz Memorial International Tournament, Feb. 3, in preparation for the Iowa City Olympic Trials in April.
Moore took to the mat at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to compete against world-class athletes for the first time, since injuring his knee in the Sunkist Kids International Open, held in Mesa, Ariz., in October.
“I’m here for the competition and to try to get back into shape for the Olympic matches,” said Moore, who qualified to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London at the Sunkist Open last year. “We actually have a few world champions on the mat today, so the competition will be great to go head-to-head against.”
“Wrestling gives the soldiers something to cheer about,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Kutz, freestyle coach with the Army World Class Athletes Program. “We appreciate the support for the World Class Athletes Program; because it helps us in being successful and helping others train to realize their dreams of becoming professional wrestlers.”
Moore, who has wrestled for 16 years, joined the wrestling program at Fort Carson in 2008. After Moore became a member of the Army WCAP, his unit allowed him to focus his efforts on wrestling to prepare for the Olympics.
“Moore is a warrior in the true sense of the word,” said Kutz. “When he goes out there and battles, you know exactly what you’re going to get.”
“Moore is taller than the average wrestler, so when he gets tied up, he has to use different facets,” said Kutz. “He mentally prepares for each battle, and uses his opponent’s strengths against them.”
For every position, there is a technique, and every hand movement sets up a takedown, said Moore.
Wrestling isn’t just physical strength, there is mental preparation and strength that gives a person the ability to keep going, persevere and win the match, he said.
“Getting back on the mat is great, but it’s nerve-racking, because it’s just you and one other person, so every move you make is your responsibility,” said Moore. “Wrestling is a lot of hard work and pain; but I love it, because winning each match makes it all worthwhile.”
Moore said he plans to continue wrestling to refine his skills and pursue an Olympic gold medal.
“I love competing and going head-to-head against other wrestlers, because each one is different and has unique skills,” said Moore. “Everyone you wrestle improves your abilities, and betters oneself for the next challenge.”
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