All-Marine wrestlers seeking gold in Texas - Camp Lejeune Globe: Sports

All-Marine wrestlers seeking gold in Texas

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  • All-Marine wrestlers seeking gold in Texas

    Second Lt. Terrence Zaleski, bottom, a member of the All-Marine Wrestling Team, takes down an opponent at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jan. 25. The team looks to end Army’s 17-year winning streak during the Armed Forces Championship, which starts Thursday in Texas.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019 8:30 am

It’s been 17 years since the Army wrestling team lost the Armed Forces Championship. The All-Marine Wrestling Team on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune would like nothing better than to end that streak.

The Marine wrestlers are making the trip to Fort Bliss, Texas, to compete in the Armed Forces Championship starting on Thursday, looking to end Army’s winning streak.

“It would feel great,” Jason Loukides, head coach of the Marine wrestlers, said of beating Army. “I am former Army, so it would be great to beat the coaches that coached me.”

The team is coming off a successful tournament at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Second Lt. Jamel Johnson, (67-kilograms), and Sgt. Raymond Bunker (72 kilograms) won gold medals in the tournament, while Sgt. Jemone Carter (55 kilograms) also medaled, earning a bronze medal for third place.

“It was nice for [Bunker and Johnson] to win, and they have been at the same weight,” said Loukides. “It was the first time that they were able to split up [wrestling in separate weight classes] and both win. Anytime you are winning with other people with you, it feels good. It was exciting to see both win back-to-back against international opponents.”

Loukides said a team effort is needed for success in the Armed Forces Championship.

“It takes a lot of conditioning, and right now, we are getting ready for the Armed Forces Championship,” said Loukides. “We are working hard, but also trying to balance out with not getting hurt. We want to be healthy for the Armed Forces Championship because you have to fill a full team.”

Johnson is a former unit supply specialist in the Army and looks forward to the championship.

“When we face the Army, it is going to be good competition between branches,” said Johnson. “With me being service Army, I know they want to stick it with me and same back to them. It is good fun, and I really hope we win.”

Johnson said he was proud to win his weight class at the Dan Shultz tournament.

“It means everything,” said Johnson. “As a Marine Corps [wrestling team], we are tight as a team. The Marine Corps has a brotherhood about itself. To stand on a podium next to my teammate [accepting a medal] means everything to me.”

After taking first in Colorado, Bunker said beating Army would mean everything.

“We are looking forward to wrestling against the Army,” said Bunker. “We have been closing the gap on them. The Army has won the past 17 years, but before that, the Marine Corps used to dominate. Now, we are getting to the point where we are taking over. It is just a matter of time until we beat them.”

The upcoming championship has the Marines training hard.

“Something that I noticed around here is that the Marine wrestlers are taking their job more serious,” said Bunker. “The level of training and accountability is increasing to succeed at the next level. We aren’t just looking to beat the Army. We are looking to have world Olympic medalists with the World Championship coming up in Tokyo, Japan.”

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