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CORALVILLE – Ben Provisor appreciates the coaches that helped him reach his Olympic dreams.
The two-time Greco-Roman Olympian aspires to impact other wrestlers in the same way. Over the course of the current pandemic, Provisor realized he needed to complete his education that was interrupted by international competition to achieve his goal.
“I’ve had a lot of great coaches and a lot of great influences,” Provisor said. “I’ve always loved coaching. I actually think I’m better at coaching than I am wrestling sometimes. This is my passion. This is something I love. Not giving back to the sport who made me who I am would be doing the world wrong, if I didn’t try to help others.”
So, at the ripe age of 30, Provisor announced his plan to enroll and wrestle at NAIA power Grand View a day before defeating top-seeded Peyton Walsh, 6-3, for the 82-kilogram title at USA Wrestling’s Senior Nationals Friday at Xtream Arena. The crown was his fourth in this event.
“I just needed to get back on the mat,” Provisor said. “I ended up wrestling Walsh, the guy who beat me at Trials, and it was nice to get a little revenge on him.”
Provisor donned a new shirt when he sat down for the post-finals news conference. He was proud to show off the large white lettering across the front that spelled “Grand View.” The Vikings will welcome one of the most accomplished freshmen to ever enter a college program.
“This is a long shot. This probably isn’t going to work out,” Grand View Coach Nick Mitchell said of his initial thought. “As we talked to him and he decided to come check it out, really there was a lot of good fit overall.”
Provisor had a working relationship with Grand View assistant Grant Turner and former Vikings NAIA champion Eric Thompson, who wrestled with him in the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. They helped sell him on Grand View and the program’s budding Greco-Roman program is an obvious plus.
“Not only will I be able to get my education so I can end up coaching at a high level,” Provisor said. “They have a Greco program that Grant and Miljan (Djukanovic) are trying to build. I’m just excited to be a part of that and hopefully be a leader the next four to six years and bring back those national titles to Grand View.”
He had Grand View representation in his corner. Despite the three-point final, he was in control most of the way. Mitchell was impressed by the way Provisor didn’t allow a point until the final.
“He’s real smooth,” Mitchell said. “You can tell he’s a high-level guy. He stays in great positon all the time. He’s super powerful and really controls the mat.”
Greco-Roman has been his forte. He hasn’t wrestled folkstyle since he was a four-time state medalist in Wisconsin. He isn’t fazed, picking up things from his training stops at Penn State and Bucknell.
“I haven’t wrestled folkstyle since high school,” Provisor said. “It’s been over a decade.”
Provisor has goals to compete through 2028, so being a 30-year-old freshman isn’t going to bother him. He wants to compete in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, which is his father’s home town, and make more Olympic teams than his former coach Dennis Hall.
“This is the best I’ve ever felt in my life,” Provisor said. “My strength is back. I’m maturing as an athlete, maturing as a person.”
A pair of small college competitors qualified for the World Team Trials that will be held at a later date. Former Cedar Rapids Jefferson prep and Wartburg National Wrestling Coaches Association national champion Kyle Briggs and Coe heavyweight Kaleb Reeves, a former Sigourney-Keota state medalist, placed fifth at 180.4 and 286, respectively.
Reeves is a decorated Greco-Roman competitor, earning multiple All-America honors at Fargo, N.D., in high school. He failed to reach the top five in the 2019 event, but was successful this time with a 4-2 mark. Reeves pinned third-seeded Courtney Freeman in 19 seconds in the final round, avenging his quarterfinal loss.
Coe Coach John Oostendorp said this will be the first Kohawk to compete in the World Team Trials.
“I was really impressed with the way Kaleb stepped up and competed against the senior-level guys,” said Oostendorp, who was a successful international Greco-Roman competitor after an All-America career for Dan Gable at the University of Iowa. “He’s only 20 years old right now, competing against guys that have been wrestling Greco full time for years. It’s going to be exciting to watch how he can develop these next couple years.”
Briggs lands on the other end of the spectrum. He hadn’t ventured into the Greco-Roman realm much, if at all, in the past. He gave it a try as team members trained for the event. Briggs opted to compete at the encouragement of Wartburg Coach Eric Keller and assistant Landon Williams.
“We’ve just been training in the room and I was messing around with it when coach said I should just do it,” Briggs said. “It was kind of a spur of the moment thing.”
Briggs fell in the opening round to Walsh. He won two of his last three matches, beating No. 4 John Kent, of Louisiana, 11-8, in the final round. Briggs said his penchant for upperbody moves in folkstyle and his build fit Greco-Roman well, but he needs to learn the rules better.
“I had no expectations,” Briggs said. “It was more of a learning experience to see where I match up with guys. Before my last match, I was like, ‘I guess if I win I qualify,’ so I really wanted to win that one.”
Briggs said he likes the added opportunity to train and he will consider competing in the Trials, but much improvement needs to occur.
Multiple Eastern Iowa athletes placed in the Junior National tournament. Iowa City West state champion Hunter Garvin (147.7) and West Delaware state titlist Wyatt Voelker (191.8) placed fourth. Wartburg’s Matthew Doyle, a state finalist for Independence, and University of Dubuque’s Tyler Thurston, a state runner-up for North Cedar, placed eighth. Doyle wrestled at 170, while Thurston was at 213.8.
Southeast Polk’s Kalob Runyon was fourth at 213.8 and Logan-Magnolia’s Hagen Heistand was fifth at 138.