Path to greatness taking 8 boys from Gilroy to Russia
Former two-division UFC world champion Daniel Cormier’s passion for wrestling has never been in question. His ability to beat top-notch opponents on the mats and the octagon has made him one of the best coaches in California.
Now, Cormier wants to install the tough mentality he had as a competitor to his athletes. Not just in the high school level, but in the youth scene as well. This week, Cormier will be sending eight of his best wrestlers from middle school to spend three weeks in Moscow and Dagestan competing versus the best youth wrestlers Russia has to offer.
Those eight wrestlers are Domanic Bozanic (33 kg), Moses Mendoza (36 kg), Isaiah Cortez (38 kg), Elijah Cortez (42 kg), Travis Grace (46 kg), Daniel Zepeda (48 kg), Moses Mirabal (51 kg), and Juan Carlos Puga at 53 kg. All wrestlers were garnered All-American status at Tulsa Nationals with Isaiah Cortez and Travis Grace winning individual titles.
Aside from training with the best the country of Russia has to offer. The team will take on Team Russia on Friday, February 7th at the Ivan Yarygin Sports Palace located in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The battle between representatives of both teams promises to be tense, given the fact each participant was hand-chosen due to his wrestling abilities.
Team USA wrestlers are very serious in displaying their wrestling techniques and show their counterparts that the USA is catching up with the best Eastern Europe has to offer when it comes to the youth scene.
Most of the wrestlers from Russia are national champions for their respective wrestling clubs. The following is their line-up they will send to face Team USA.
Ruslan Azamatov (33 kg), Rakhul Umudov (36 kg), Ibrahim Kamaev (38 kg), Ali Kazimov (42 kg), Khadzhimurad Zurnaev (46 kg), Aleksandr Gaidarly (48 kg), Usman Abakarov (51 kg), and Matvey Saulyak at 53 kg.
In just three seasons at the helm of the Gilroy wrestling team, Daniel Cormier has guided the Mustangs to two consecutive runner-up finishes at the California state tournament as a team. During his first season, Cormier guided Nic Aguilar (2018) and Tony Andrade (2018) to claim individual state championships. Last year, he had his third individual state champion in Ryan Reyes (2019). This season, Cormier has the top 152-pound wrestler in the country in Chase Saldate and has high hopes of eventually bringing a team state championship to Gilroy.