Jordan Holm claimed a title at the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler Jordan Holm of the Minnesota Storm is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. at 85 kilos. In 2013, Holm won the U.S. World Team Trials and represented the U.S. at the World Championships, after being a runner-up at the Trials the two previous years.
InterMat catches up with the 32-year-old Holm.
Over the past few months you won both the Minnesota Storm Holiday Cup and Dave Schultz Memorial, and placed third at the Granma Cup. You were also undefeated at the Pinto Cup. How do you do you feel about the way you're wrestling this season?
Holm: The season is going well, but everything up to this point doesn't really matter. My focus is on doing well at the Open and World Team Trials and then getting ready for the playoffs, the important part of the season.
Being that you have your sights set on winning a World medal this year, how do you prevent yourself from not looking ahead too far?
Holm: I just tell myself that I have to love the process of improving. It's hard. Wrestling is a challenging sport. As you get up to the senior level it takes a lot of effort to make small improvements. You put in several hours to just improve a little bit. You just have to really appreciate that process. That's what I try to focus on, instead of the fact that I'm currently No. 1 and then start thinking ahead and overlooking opponents. I try take everything one moment at a time.
What do you like about your training situation at the Minnesota Training Center?
Holm: The Minnesota Training Center is awesome. We have a bunch of guys here who are committed full time to training Greco-Roman. We get on the mat eight to ten times a week. We have a legendary coach in Dan Chandler, a three-time Olympian. We have Brandon Paulson, who brings a different dynamic to the room. He's very enthusiastic, bouncing off the walls with energy. He's just a great technician. I think we're doing a good job of keeping the sport fun. I think we enjoy the atmosphere in the room as a team, and that's a big element. I really try to pay attention to how people are getting along with each other, where they're at, how much they want to be here or not be here, and we address it right away.
Dan Chandler (Photo/The Guillotine)You have been with Dan Chandler for several years. What do you like about Chandler?
Holm: Chandler is unlike any coach I've ever had. I've had a number of coaches, as is expected at this level. Chandler is very relaxed. He's kind of empowering in the sense that he communicates and demonstrates his faith in the athlete's ability to improvise and develop their own style. He's able to work with each athlete individually on their particular styles and kind of bring that out by just kind of demonstrating his faith in what they're doing. Chandler is very chill and relaxed in his overall approach. When we're going live he's on the whistle and he's yelling at us, pushing us, and telling us to go hard and he certainly has moments of intensity. But he does a great job of communicating his faith in the athlete to pick up on what he's teaching and is very encouraging.
You competed in your first World Championships this past September, going 1-1, after being a runner-up at the Trials the previous two years. What did you take away from your experience at the World Championships that will help you in future world level competitions?
Holm: Taking second two years in a row at the World Team Trials and Olympic Trials was tough. Coming back in 2013 was not a slam-dunk decision. I'm very glad at this point that I did, and that the Minnesota Training Center was able to be revived to the level that it is and that I'm committed through 2016. Like a lot of wrestlers, I don't really remember my wins very well compared to my losses. My performance at the World Championships has certainly been on my mind a lot. Just being able to be there in that atmosphere and get out onto the mat, just knowing this has been on my mind all season keeps my focus on winning World and Olympic medals. For an athlete that hasn't been on the national team and had opportunities to go overseas and train and compete in international tournaments and to make it to the World Championships, it might be a lot more difficult for them to set their goals appropriate to what it is we're trying to accomplish on the senior level. Since I've been there it just becomes all the more realistic in my mind that I would return and contend for a medal.
The weight classes were changed this year in Greco-Roman. Did the weight class changes have much of an impact on you?
Holm: When I heard the weights were changing I was hoping that it would go up and I'm glad it did. I would jokingly say that if it goes down one kilo that I would have to go up one weight class. So I'm glad we got the extra kilo. As far as making weight, it's part of the sport and the reality is I don't care what they make the weight classes, I'm just going to go out there and compete as hard as I can. I think there's an overemphasis on the importance of cutting weight and how you will perform, especially in younger age groups. I really think as you get up to the senior level, all that washes out and people just get the attitude, 'I don't care what weight you are. I'm going to compete and wrestle you.' So that's kind of the approach I've developed as I've gotten into the senior level. The reality is 98 kilos is a huge weight class. 85 kilos is a little better for me than 84 kilos. I was hoping for about two or three kilos, but I'll take 85 kilos. I looked back through past World Championship results and the history of Minnesota's club, and we've had quite a few guys who have gone to the World Championships at 187.25 pounds. So the weight class has been out there before I see. Hopefully we will keep representing it well.
When you first started getting back into wrestling a few years ago, you were competing in both Greco-Roman and freestyle, but then decided to focus strictly on Greco-Roman. What went into that decision?
Holm: It was a decision that wasn't easy. I really like the freestyle program at the University of Minnesota. They really help us out. I didn't finish my college wrestling career like I expected to finish it. I fully expected to be a national champion wrestling for Northern Iowa. I know that I had a lot of good offense that would help me transition to freestyle much easier. I actually performed better at my first World Team Trials in freestyle than I did in Greco-Roman. But there were several things that went into my decision to focus on Greco-Roman. I'm very thankful that Jake Clark brought me along as a training partner to the World Championships in 2010, along with the Greco team. Obviously, I was around Chandler and Paulson, and knowing the history of success that Greco has had here in Minnesota I decided to go that direction. But I'm not going to say I haven't thought, 'I want to wrestle freestyle too.' I would love to be able to do both, but at my age I'm not able to do that and compete at the level I need to in one if I'm doing both.
Greco-Roman wrestling in the U.S. does not receive as much attention from fans as the other wrestling styles. Does that bother you?
Holm: I take a lot of personal responsibility for that as an athlete in Greco-Roman. There's nobody to point a finger at except for ourselves. So it doesn't really bother me. Here in Minnesota we're launching a new website very soon. It's going to be put together by Basch Solutions. He's very good at putting together websites, particularly for the sport of wrestling. He put together websites for David Taylor and Jordan Burroughs. We have been working with him to put together a site for the Minnesota Training Center for people to follow our athletes, both Greco-Roman and freestyle. I've been having fun putting that together. I'm trying to do my part as a club leader here in Minnesota and helping our fans become more informed about what it is we're doing, and to try to get them to appreciate the level of commitment that we have. We're coming in two to three times a day all week long. The same basic things that draw people to the sport of wrestling will draw them to the sport of Greco-Roman if they have a better understanding of the level of commitment we have. You can't fault the fans when we're barely doing our job promoting our sport. I'm not going to be one of the guys who gets on message boards and becomes super critical without any real direction. I want to be one of the guys who takes action and ownership for the promotion of our sport here in Minnesota. We're trying to accomplish that through the Minnesota Training Center and building up our base of participants with the Minnesota Storm and having a website to keep people informed of where it is we're going as we build toward this year's World Championships, next year's World Championships in Las Vegas, and the 2016 Olympic Games.
You wrestled in college at Northern Iowa. This past season UNI was the only undefeated dual meet team in Division I. Do you take pride in seeing that program have success?
Holm: I do. I'm very excited about how Northern Iowa performed this year. I'm very proud of the turnaround that Northern Iowa has had … back to the form that they were when I was there in a sense, where I think we were headed when I left. Three of my teammates and I were ranked in the top five. We were headed in a strong direction. I'm very proud of Doug Schwab. I go down there and see Tolly Thompson and Randy Pugh. They're still on staff. I have a great relationship with them. I have been down there to train with them a few times. But, yeah, I'm very proud of how they performed this past season. I like the direction they're going.
Jordan Holm gets his hand raised after winning the 2014 U.S. World Team Trials (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)What do you need to do to finish with a World medal this year?
Holm: There's not a big gap. There's not a big disparity. Jordan Burroughs went 69-0, which is such an incredible feat. Very few people have any real understanding of how amazing that is at the highest level of the sport. I look at the European Championships as a great example. You go in there and everybody gets their draws and they go out there and compete. I think if that tournament was wrestled five times in a row, you would have different champions and different medalists. I think the same is true for the World Championships. I think I'm ready to medal in the World Championships right now. It's a matter of putting it together on the day of competition. All I can do to better ensure that happens is to continue to focus on improving in every position. That's what I try to do. I try to get better particularly in pummeling, par terre offense, and par terre defense. Those three things. It really comes down to believing that I can do it, being ready to go, and putting it together on the day of competition.
This story also appears in the April 18 issue of The Guillotine. The Guillotine has been covering wrestling in Minnesota since 1971. Its mission is to report and promote wrestling at all levels -- from youth and high school wrestling to college and international level wrestling. Subscribe to The Guillotine.