Barrett Stanghill Takes 5th in Kragujevac, Serbia

By:  Timothy Hands, June 29, 2017

Two of the Minnesota Storm’s most dangerous young athletes, Barrett Stanghill (85 kg) and Hayden Zillmer (98 kg), will be competing this coming weekend at the Ljubomir Ivanovic-Gedza tournament in Kragujevac, Serbia. Zillmer, as many know, has been very busy since turning in a runner-up performance to domestic rival G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world no. 17) at the World Team Trials in late April. The thing about that is, it hasn’t been in Greco-Roman, or not just. Following a dominant showing at the freestyle Last Chance Qualifier in May, the North Dakota State alum competed in that style’s World Team Trials a few weeks later and wound up making the National Team, becoming the first wrestler to make both US National teams since Sam Hazewinkel accomplished the feat in 2014.

As for Stanghill, after graduating from Northern Michigan University in 2016 he joined up with the Minnesota Storm and the results speak for themselves. A fourth-place finish at November’s Non-Olympic World Team Trials gave way to a bronze at the US Nationals a month later. A couple of hiccups at the Dave Schultz Memorial and Hungarian Grand Prix gave him time to reset. At the World Team Trials in April, Stanghill wrestled well and found himself in the third-place/National Team match with a resurgent Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP), only to fall in short in controversial fashion. Stanghill had previously lost to Myers that day in the quarterfinals.

Even still, it has been quite the year for Stanghill, as he is now firmly entrenched as one of the premier 80 kilogram wrestlers in the nation. But entering this summer, he was initially unsure of what he was going to do competition-wise, and more importantly, where he was going to go. Some dominoes fell into place and now here he is, grinding it out in camp and prepping for the Ljubomir Ivanovic-Gedza tournament. There is a story to tell regarding how this has all transpired.

“I was back in Montana, it was Mother’s Day, in fact, and Coach (Chandler) sent out a text that practice is at 3:00pm,” Stanghill recalled. “I immediately took off on a 20-hour drive because I wanted to be there for practice. I wanted to be there for Pat (Smith). The ball started rolling from there and I decided to stay in Minnesota to train through the summer. Then Joe (Rau) got his knee surgery and he had a ticket (to go to Hungary), so I kind of just slipped into his spot. This was actually right after Universities —  Chandler texted me, “Would you like to go overseas?”, and I said “Absolutely.” The summer kind of unfolded that way, so now I’m here getting some great training here with this camp.”

Both athletes have been across the Atlantic for over a week preparing alongside the US Greco-Roman World Team, though by now, the members of that squad have returned stateside. In a way, it’s the two of them against the world, a somewhat precarious but necessary position to be in if you’re an American trying to up your international game. Naturally, Stanghill is motivated to get going against foreign opponents, so he is embracing the entire scope of the trip in more ways than one. “I am really looking forward to getting this first international medal,” said Stanghill. It’s fun to come out here because these guys are so tough, especially in par terre. I’m kind of getting beat up here (laughs). But I think par terre is one of the weaker parts of my game, so I’m trying to get it a lot stronger. My bottom needs work, too, but this top part needs work at the internationally level.”