March 5, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Three members of the Army's World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) trained at the Wyoming Regional Training Center in Laramie last week.
WCAP is a program that provides outstanding soldier-athletes with support and training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions and in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.¬¬The three members of WCAP who trained in Laramie include Staff Sgt. Jason Kutz, Spc. Jack Jensen and Capt. Phil Simpson. All three are stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado, near the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Since 1948, 446 Army Soldiers have represented the United States at the summer and winter Olympic Games as athletes/coaches, earning 111 medals in a variety of sports from bobsled, track and field, boxing, wrestling, and shooting. Since the WCAP inception in 1997, 55 soldier-athletes have participated in the summer and winter Olympic Games winning gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals.
The establishment of the Wyoming RTC in 2011 allowed Olympic hopefuls at any age group to train in Laramie to compete in international competitions. Clayton Foster, a former Oklahoma State wrestler, is the center's current full-time resident.
Kutz is an assistant coach of freestyle wrestling in the WCAP program. He hails from Altoona, Pa., and wrestled at Lehigh University from 1992-96. He was the 2003 CISM World Military Champion and has been involved in the WCAP program since 1999. Kutz said there were benefits of training at the Wyoming RTC.
"The No. 1 thing is quality workout partners," Kutz said. "At certain times of the year the Olympic Training Center is sparse with athletes. With the Wyoming RTC being so close, we just wanted to come up and get different looks. That's the advantage of coming up here."
Simpson is a 66-kilogram freestyle wrestler. From Nashville, Tenn., he wrestled at the United States Military Academy (the Army Black Knights) from 2001-05. He has been involved in WCAP since 2006.
"It's a different perspective (wrestling here)," Simpson said. "Each regional training center has its own style and feel. It's good for us to get to wrestle the Wyoming RTC guys and pick their brains. The altitude here is good. Anytime you can push yourself a bit harder and get away from what you are used to, from your comfort zone, it makes it easier to adjust to other places."
Jensen is a 96-kilogram freestyle wrestler. Originally from Sheboygan, Wis., he wrestled at Oklahoma State from 2004-08 and was a teammate of current Cowboy assistant coaches Chris Pendleton and Ethan Kyle at OSU. Current Wyoming head coach Mark Branch coached Jensen while he was an associate head coach at OSU. Jensen has been involved in WCAP since 2012.
"We were able to work on some issues that we'd seen at the Olympic Training Center," he said. "It's good to get out and hit `reset' at this. It's like a little training camp. Being so close, it's good to come up here and see different wrestlers."
The WCAP wrestlers will make five to six trips a year to off-site locations, and will compete up to seven times a year.
"A lot of young RTC wrestlers have gotten a chance to work out with them through the week and that's the kind of experience you can't put a price on," Branch said. "It's nice to have accomplished wrestlers come in, even if it's just for a week. We always welcome a training opportunity for those kinds of athletes and we're happy they are here."