HOBOKEN, N.J. - Tucked away above a local Hoboken car wash and just a few short blocks from the Hoboken Train Station lies the New York City's Regional Training Center. The short commute from the friendly confines of Dodge Fitness Center is well worth it for Columbia wrestlers, as they have been exposed to top-level competition and top-level coaching.
In March, Columbia wrestling and the New York City Regional Training Center announced the addition of Olympic Champion Kendall Cross and Olympic Champion coach Valentin Kalika to its staff. The 2017 EIWA heavyweight champion and rising senior Garrett Ryan has taken full advantage of the tips from two of the top wrestling minds in the world.
“It can be something small like working specifically on a throw, how you want your foot planted in relation to your opponent or in a match what you need to be thinking in certain situations,” Ryan said of advice Cross and Kalika have given him. “Every wrestler has different philosophies and techniques about the sport, so the more people you can have coach you and give you their input really can help you find things that work for you.”
Cross, an Olympic gold medal wrestler in the 1996 Olympics who has coached at North Carolina and Harvard, is now looking to leave his impact on Columbia.
“What I hope to do is, as I build my relationship with these guys, no matter what their goals or dreams are, they are wrestlers and I want them to have the most successful wrestling experiences that they can have,” Cross said.
Kalika, who coached Olympic Champion wrestler Helen Maroulis to the first-ever gold medal for the United States in women's wrestling, is bringing international flavor to the RTC which he is confident will benefit the wrestlers.
“Columbia wrestlers right now have a great opportunity to have a better quality of practice,” said Kalika, who has brought world champions from Russia, Georgia and Italy to the RTC. “Having the opportunity to wrestle those guys is going to bring them to a new level.”
Aside from the coaching, the NYC RTC venue itself is a unique second home for Columbia.
“It's probably the coolest wrestling room I've ever competed in,” Ryan said. “You got the huge glass windows so the natural sunlight is coming in. It's a really weird feeling when you're wrestling someone and the sun is in your eyes.”
As the sun shines through the windows of the RTC, Columbia wrestlers will look to do the same as they continue to train under Olympic level coaching all summer long.