Even the most elite athletes cannot always avoid the injury bug.
In the span of 24 hours last week, Team USA wrestling lost two World Wrestling Championship qualifiers, but that did not stop former Nebraska wrestlers James Green and Jordan Burroughs from holding an open workout at the Hendricks Training Center on Friday as they prepare to leave for Budapest, Hungary.
Team USA lost Nahshon Garrett and female wrestler Alli Ragan earlier this week. Ragan became a six-time world qualifier in June at Lincoln's Final X.
“Coach (Bryan) Snyder and I really keep our eye on our guys, especially James and Jordan leading up to the world championships and the team trials,” said Husker coach Mark Manning, who still helps Green and Burroughs train. “There is time in between, so there is always a tough dynamic to train hard enough, but make sure they aren't going to get hurt."
There was almost a four-month layover for Green and Burroughs, who were two of the first seven to qualify for Team USA in Lincoln.
“There is a fine line to know when to pull back, and we are pretty familiar just because we coached these guys in college and we know their limit. We know where we can push them,” Manning added.
After the Huskers held a practice open to fans, Burroughs and Green hit the practice mats one last time before traveling overseas Monday.
“This is home — this is home for me,” Burroughs said for the fans that came and watched. “I think the feeling is mutual between myself and the fan base here. I'm a part of this community and it's very meaningful to be able to open up my workout to them and give them a tangible piece of my journey.”
Being in Lincoln to train also helped Green, who earned a world bronze in 2015 and a silver medal in 2017 competing at 70 kilograms (154 pounds). Burroughs will wrestle at 74 kilograms (163 pounds).
“We got to be here in Lincoln and I got to be in my bed,” Green said, “Basically, you want to try and put yourself in the most comfortable position as far as weight and being prepared while you are here, and not have to do it over there.
“That is basically what I have been doing leading up to this Monday. We've gotten all our tough practices in and now it's just maintaining the body and being 100 percent to our ability.”
From Lincoln to Budapest is a 14-hour, 5,175-mile flight, and Team USA has decided to leave 10 days early to get accustomed to the time change.
That extra time is something Burroughs said could help Team USA defend the World Wrestling Championship title.
“Just taking pride in our abilities; knowing we are returning world champions as a team,” said Burroughs, who looks for his sixth world title. “We have numerous world champions and world medalists on our team.
“I think we are the best team in the world, personally, and I think that with that being said, we make a lot of sacrifices to get to that level.”
Team USA will stop in Germany first to practice before the World Wrestling Championships begin Oct. 20-28.