Back to school: 30-year-old Olympian Ben Provisor wins Greco-Roman national title after announcement
NYAC’s Ben Provisor celebrates after scoring over Jordan Holm of Minnesota Storm in their 85kg Greco-Roman match in the 2016 US Olympic Wrestling Team Trials semifinal at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday 9 April 2016. Provisor won the 2021 Senior United States 82kg title at Xtream Arena in Coralville a day after the 30-year-old announced he would go to Grand View University to wrestle in folk style at University. (Stephen Mally / The Gazette)
CORALVILLE – Ben Provisor appreciates the coaches who have helped him achieve his Olympic dreams.
The two-time Greco-Roman Olympian aspires to impact other wrestlers in the same way. During the current pandemic, Provisor realized that he had to complete his studies interrupted by international competition to achieve his goal.
“I had a lot of great coaches and a lot of great influences,” said Provisor. “I have always enjoyed coaching. In fact, I think I’m better at coaching than wrestling sometimes. This is my passion. This is something that I love. Not giving back to the sport that made me who I am, it would hurt the world if I didn’t try to help others.
So, at the age of 30, Provisor announced his intention to enter and wrestle in the NAIA power Grand View one day before defeating seed Peyton Walsh, 6-3, for the 82-kilogram title. at the 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,” said Provisor. “I ended up wrestling with Walsh, the guy who beat me in practice, and it was good to get some revenge on him.”
Provisor donned a new shirt when he sat down for the post-final press conference. He was proud to show off the large white lettering on the front that spelled “Grand View”. The Vikings will welcome one of the most accomplished freshmen to ever enter a college program.
“It’s a long shot. It probably won’t work, ”Grand View coach Nick Mitchell said of his initial thought. “As we spoke to him and he decided to come check it out, there was really a lot of good form 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 it on Grand View and the show’s budding Greco-Roman program is a clear plus.
“Not only will I be able to get my education so that I can end up coaching at a high level,” said Provisor. “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 over the next four to six years and bring those national titles back to Grand View. “
He had the Grand View representation in his corner. Despite the three-point final, he was in control most of the time. Mitchell was impressed with how Provisor didn’t allow a point until the final.
“He’s really smooth,” Mitchell said. “You can tell he’s a top guy. He stays in a great position all the time. He’s super powerful and really controls the mat.
The Greco-Roman was its strong point. He hasn’t wrestled in the folk style since being a four-time state medalist in Wisconsin. He’s not fazed, picking up things from his training stoppages at Penn State and Bucknell.
“I haven’t wrestled folk style since high school,” Provisor said. “It’s been over a decade.
Provisor aims to compete until 2028, so being a 30-year-old freshman isn’t going to bother him. He wants to compete in the Olympics in Los Angeles, his father’s hometown, and form more Olympic teams than his former coach Dennis Hall.
“It’s the best I have ever felt in my life,” said Provisor. “My strength is back. I am maturing as an athlete, I am maturing as a person.
A pair of smaller collegiate competitors have qualified for the World Team Trials to be held at a later date. Former Cedar Rapids trainer Jefferson and Wartburg National Wrestling Coaches Association 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, winning multiple All-America accolades in Fargo, ND, in high school. He failed to reach the top five in the 2019 event, but succeeded this time with a score of 4-2. Reeves pinned third-seeded Courtney Freeman in 19 seconds in the final round, avenging his loss in the quarterfinals.
Coe coach John Oostendorp has said this will be the first Kohawk to compete in the World Tag Team Trials.
“I was really impressed with how Kaleb stepped up and took on the senior level guys,” said Oostendorp, who was a successful Greco-Roman international contender after an All-America career for Dan Gable at the University of Iowa. “He’s only 20 at the moment, taking on guys who have been wrestling in greco full time for years. It’s going to be exciting to see how he can develop over the next few years. “
Briggs lands on the other end of the spectrum. He hadn’t ventured into the Greco-Roman kingdom much, if at all, in the past. He gave it a try as team members trained for the event. Briggs chose to compete under the encouragement of Wartburg coach Eric Keller and assistant Landon Williams.
“We just practiced in the gym and I was messing around when the coach told me I had to do it,” Briggs said. “It was kind of a spur of the moment.”
Briggs fell in the first round to Walsh. He’s won two of his last three games, beating No.4 John Kent of Louisiana, 11-8, in the final round. Briggs said his penchant for upper body movements in the folk style and his build fit well with the Greco-Roman, but he needed to learn the rules better.
“I had no expectations,” Briggs said. “It was more of a learning experience to see where I was fighting with the guys. Before my last game, I was like, ‘I guess if I win I qualify’, so I really wanted to win this one.
Briggs said he liked the added opportunity to train and would consider participating in the trials, but there are many improvements that need to be made.
Several athletes from Eastern Iowa have placed in the National Junior Tournament. Iowa City State Champion West Hunter Garvin (147.7) and West Delaware State Titlist Wyatt Voelker (191.8) placed fourth. Matthew Doyle of Wartburg, state finalist for Independence, and Tyler Thurston of Dubuque University, state finalist for North Cedar, placed eighth. Doyle struggled at 170, while Thurston was at 213.8.
Kalob Runyon of Southeast Polk was fourth at 213.8 and Hagen Heistand of Logan-Magnolia was fifth at 138.