Johnson nabs silver in Croatia - Camp Lejeune Globe: Sports

Johnson nabs silver in Croatia

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  • Johnson nabs silver in Croatia

    All-Marine wrestler Sgt. Xavier Johnson wrestles Irakli Dzimistarishvil, from the Republic of Georgia wrestling team, at the Zagreb Open tournament in Croatia, Feb. 9.  Johnson took the silver medal at 63 kg. 

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019 12:00 pm

Sergeant Xavier Johnson, from the All-Marine Wrestling Team, returned home after wrestling in Croatia knowing he was ranked 12th in the world in his weight class.

“It feels good [to be ranked],” Johnson said. “It shows that all of the hard work is paying off. International competition is always tough and a learning experience. I love it because you don’t have anything to lose. It is a new look and style, making for a nice experience.”

Johnson took second place in the 63 kilogram weight class at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Croatia on Feb. 10, the highest finish of any member of the All-Marine Wrestling Team.

Other team members competing in Croatia included 1st Lt. Peyton Walsh at 77 kg, Sgt. John Stefanowicz at 82 kg and Capt. Daniel Miller at 97 kg.

For Johnson, being an All-Marine wrestler is more about the path he has paved for himself as a member of the team.

“It means everything to me to be on the All-Marine Wrestling Team,” said Johnson. “They are my family and have molded me to become the person I am today. I joined the team as a lance corporal and a lot of people notice, but this team prepares you whether it’s educational or with life.”

Jason Loukides, head coach of the All-Marine Wrestling Team based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, said Johnson has improved as a Marine and as a wrestler since joining the team three years ago.

“We have known that he has that potential for a while,” Loukides said of Johnson’s success. “It is exciting to see someone earn a world rank. With this tournament being a ranking event, we knew the possibility that if we did well that he could be ranked in the world. It is nice for him to come home being named 12th in the world behind his name.”

The end goal for

Johnson is finding success at the 2019 World Championships, which could lead to a spot on the

U.S. team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“That would mean everything to me,” Johnson said of being on the Olympic team. “It is the biggest goal as a wrestler whether it’s intentional or collegiate, getting up on the podium and representing your country. It is the main and long-term goal that everyone strives for.”

The 2019 World Championships are scheduled for Sept. 14 to 22 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

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