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He’ll be on a different continent, but Oldham County junior Mikey Caudill won’t have to wrestle any koala bears or kangaroos.
Caudill will represent Team USA as a 285-pound heavyweight in the Down Under Sports Wrestling Tournament July 2-10 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, after being selected to wrestle this fall.
Chris Pella, recruiting coordinator for Down Under Sports, describes the event as a goodwill tournament between the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to build up the wrestling programs in the latter two countries.
Pella said Caudill was selected from more than 5,000 wrestlers in the U.S. Pella then follows up with the wrestlers who accept invitations.
The tournament is freestyle wrestling, which is slightly different than the format used by U.S. high schools. Freestyle wrestling occurs mostly on the mat, with more emphasis on takedowns.
Caudill hasn’t wrestled yet this fall, after breaking his left thumb playing football. He said he’s still able to work out his arms and legs.
“It’s really weird just watching my team wrestle and not be out there,” Caudill said. “But I don’t think it’ll set me back any.”
OCHS wrestling coach Aaron Riordan said freestyle wrestling is practiced in some parts of Indiana and Ohio. He plans on getting Caudill into freestyle tournaments in those states, but hasn’t decided which tournaments yet.
“Mikey moves pretty well, for a kid that weighs almost 300 pounds,” Riordan said. “You don’t see that in a lot of kids like him and he uses that to his advantage.”
Caudill’s father, Mike Caudill, said besides recovering from injury, Mikey’s biggest hurdle is funding his trip. He said plane fare alone will cost more than $4,000, but he believes wrestling in Australia will give Mikey the chance to gain exposure.
“He loves the sport and he’ll give it his all when he gets on the mat,” Mike Caudill said. “He always has and always will.”
Mikey said he has a few areas that should translate to freestyle wrestling, but also plenty to work on.
“I’m really big, hard to take down and I have more technique than some other heavyweights,” he said.“But I need to get way more conditioned and just lift a little more to get stronger.”
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