• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Former Mat Jacket has a tryout with Air Force wrestling team

Woodford County graduate and 2017 state wrestling champion Joey Roberts is currently training in Colorado Springs, for a spot on the Air Force wrestling team. Roberts is an Airman First Class and a computer and electronic warfare specialist on AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). When he is not training, he is stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. The opportunity to try out for the team came quickly, according to Roberts. "I have a supervisor that sent me the application for the All Air Force team, so I decided to take a chance and send it in. Once I found out that I had a shot, I learned that we would be shipping up to Colorado to train until mid-February when the selection process is made." Roberts said that the goal is to make the team at 65kg (143 pounds) and compete in the United States Armed Forces Championships in ElPaso, Tex. Feb. 21-25. The competition features dual meets, where all four military teams compete against each other. The results of these dual meets determine the final team standings. Individual medalists are also recognized in each weight class, based upon the results at that weight class in the dual meets. This event features Greco-Roman and freestyle teams from four branches of the U.S. military battling for team titles, and individual medals. Traditionally, some of the nation’s best international wrestlers have been members of U.S. military wrestling programs and have competed in this event. USA Wrestling will partner with Armed Forces Sports to provide a free live web stream of the event, according to www.TeamUSA.org. Roberts is one of 17 wrestlers competing for a spot on the team. "The best of the best are here to compete," said Roberts. "One of the cool things that have come out of this opportunity is that I have been able to meet guys stationed all over the world that have traveled to Colorado to train and take a shot at the team." At WCHS, Roberts won the state title in 2017 at 145-pounds and had a career record of 170-25, while placing four times at the state tournament. Joey said that his time in the WCHS wrestling room helped him prepare for boot camp and he will now look back on those lessons learned as the competition toughens on the Air Force wrestling mat. "Coach Rusty Parks and Coach Joe Carr were guys that I learned so much from," said Roberts. "My dad believed in me so much, and he helped me get ready for my senior season. We pushed cardio so hard, and I ran every day. I knew when I got on the mat that I was in better shape than my opponent every time I competed." The Armed Forces Championships are part of the Armed Forces Sports program which provides an avenue for military service members to participate in national and international competitions including the International Military Sports Council and the Olympics. The Army wrestling team took home their 17th straight championship last year in a win over the Marine Corp at Camp Lejeune, NC.

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