Olympians teach Elk Grove wrestlers new techniques


Photo by Kevin Modelski

Megan Malartsik, Staff Reporter

A little less than a year ago, Elk Grove Village mayor Craig Johnson decided to secure a one-year sponsorship with USA Wrestling, USA Track and Field, and the USA Triathlon team. 

On Oct. 30, that partnership paid off for Elk Grove athletes.

On that date, Olympic and college wrestlers Thomas Gilman, Nick Gwiazdowski, Sarah Hildebrant and Ryan Deakin coached a clinic in Elk Grove High School’s field house. The wrestlers presented new skills and techniques to younger and up-and-coming generations of wrestlers in the Elk Grove community. 

Most athletes at the clinic were from both Elk Grove and Conant high schools, but other Mid-Suburban League schools were present as well. 

The Olympic and collegiate wrestlers gave back to the sport they have dedicated their lives to by instructing the sport and sharing the knowledge they’ve gathered throughout their years of hard work rather than participating in matches/drills themselves. 

Hildebrant recently earned a bronze medal competing in women’s wrestling during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She had been competing in competitions since 2010, and she said in an interview with NBC that she enjoyed the clinic mostly because she was able to be on the coaching side of a sport that she has been learning for years. 

The clinic provided wrestlers the ability to work with these medal-winning athletes and hold conversations about wrestling. The clinicians provided tips and tricks as Elk Grove wrestlers begin practicing Nov. 8.

Gilman is a men’s freestyle wrestler who also took home the bronze medal after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His goal of inspiring and connecting with the athletes was proven successful after talking to students who attended the clinic. 

“They would teach us their favorite move and then we would break out into partners and learn the moves while the olympians walked around providing help and feedback,” Jacob Elsner, a junior wrestler at Elk Grove, said of the event. 

Elsner, a three-year high school wrestler at the varsity level, has been wrestling nearly his entire life and said he greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet, learn and receive advice from the athletes. For wrestlers like Elsner, the ability to connect with people who are at the top of his sport and have accomplished goals as extremely rewarding. 

“The experience was really special because these people are some of the best in the entire world at what they do,” Elsner said. 

Mitch Janczak, another wrestler at Elk Grove, said he was also excited to have been a part of the clinic. 

“It was cool to learn moves from people you see on TV,” Janczak said in a text message.