Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club and USA Wrestling partner with West Virginia University MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (May 8, 2004) - West Virginia University will serve as host to the Sunkist Kids National Training Program for USA Wrestling, athletic director Ed Pastilong announced today.

"West Virginia University athletics is proud to team with USA Wrestling, the National Governing Body for the sport of wrestling and the number one wrestling club in the world, the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club," says Pastilong.

"This is a fabulous opportunity to create an Olympic level training program in Morgantown," says WVU assistant head coach and U.S. Olympic freestyle coach Zeke Jones. "It will be nice to have Olympic hopefuls be a part of our community." In a five-year partnership with Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club and USA Wrestling, West Virginia University will become an official training site for development of Olympic wrestlers.

The training site is driven by elite coaching staffs working with motivated athletes to move them on to elite level competition in pursuit of Olympic dreams. The year-round, sport-specific training focuses on strategic development by increasing skills, competition, work ethic and love of the sport in order to achieve higher goals. "There are a number of people who have helped bring this together - the people at USA Wrestling along with Art Martori of the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club," notes Jones. "To be able to join ourselves with the number one wrestling club is a great opportunity to help create future Olympians for our country."

The mission is "to create, develop, and execute a year round training program for elite level wrestlers in conjunction with West Virginia University while creating career development opportunities, educational assistance and community service projects."

"We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the West Virginia University wrestling program in conjunction with some of the world's most elite athletes," says Art Martori, Founder and Executive Director of the Sunkist Kids. "Logistically, it makes sense for us to have a training site in the East. I think it is a win-win situation for USA Wrestling and West Virginia University."

In the mid 1970s, Art Martori joined forces with Tom Dubin to establish the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club. Through the continuous support of Martori, the Sunkist Kids began to implement its mission, which is to assist elite athletes in becoming Olympic and World Champions. During the past 25 years, the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club has produced more Olympic, World and U.S. National Champions than any other elite wrestling club in the United States. To date, the Sunkist Kids have 55 Olympic and World Medals, and 164 National Champions. Their success was primarily due to a top of the line coaching staff, dedicated athletes, devoted volunteers from behind the scenes and financial resources. "Having the training site in West Virginia is great for the sport of wrestling," says Rich Bender, Executive Director of USA Wrestling. "The Eastern part of the United States houses so many good athletes and we are confident this move will contribute towards development of producing Olympic athletes. The most successful athletes must have access to train year-round. The coaches at West Virginia are committed to filling that void and we support that concept. The training site will provide the wrestlers with an opportunity to focus on training and develop into world-class type athletes."

USA Wrestling is the National Governing Body for the Sport of Wrestling in the United States and, as such, is its representative to the United States Olympic Committee. USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the nation and works to create interest and participation in these programs. The many programs and activities conducted by USA Wrestling or the hundreds of chartered clubs, provide opportunities for youth and adults alike to gain an understanding and appreciation for the international styles of wrestling, freestyle and Greco-Roman, and folkstyle (scholastic and collegiate) which is the style practiced at high schools and colleges across the country.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for West Virginia University," says Jones. "It is a great opportunity to bring the Olympic experience to Morgantown and the university." The next step for the Sunkist Kids Club is the application process. The Sunkist Kids will accept applications for Olympic hopefuls for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, and 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

"We will create situations where the athletes can thrive in a training environment and create packages for the athletes and their families to help finance their Olympic training," adds Jones. "This is a historic day for West Virginia University. The creation of an Olympic training program on a permanent basis in Morgantown will serve as a location for Olympic hopefuls to focus on their development as the world's best wrestlers."

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