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Personal Profile:  Air Force Academy Graduate Returns to Wrestling Mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., May 19, 2016 — Air Force 1st Lt. Clayton Gable, a 2nd Space Warning Squadron supervisory statistician here, grew up in a family that had a heritage in wrestling.

“My dad was the head wrestling coach at the high school and one of the most successful wrestlers in our school’s history, as well as a Division I wrestler,” Gable said of his Dallastown, Pennsylvania, roots. “Therefore, it was always sort of assumed I would end up pursuing wrestling.”

Star Athlete

Gable participated in an array of sports growing up, but excelled in wrestling, which became his sole focus during his junior and senior years of high school.

His talent in wrestling was recognized by a variety of Division I colleges, including Stanford University, Maryland University and Campbell University; however, there was one school in particular that attracted him.

After placing at nationals during his junior year of high school, Gable was contacted by the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“At the time, I had no idea what a service academy even was,” Gable said.

The academy’s pursuit of Gable for its wrestling program would eventually lead to his commitment to enroll there.

“I liked the coaches during the recruiting trip, and the wrestlers all seemed like people I could get along with,” Gable said. “I was sold because it seemed like a very cool place to go to school and an opportunity to do something that none of my other friends were doing.”

Air Force Academy Wrestler

Gable wrestled at the academy at 165 and 174 pounds. He started all four years and placed at the Western Wrestling Conference tournament every year on the team. His junior year, Gable was ranked in the top 30 in the country for his weight class.

His accomplishments as a collegiate athlete were more impressive when considering the additional responsibilities shouldered by cadets.

“It was pretty challenging being a student-athlete at the academy,” Gable said. “There were definitely some things we had to contend with that our competitors didn’t have to. It took me the first couple years to be able to find the balance between schoolwork, being an athlete, and still doing my military requirements.”

Although Gable performed at a high level during his four years at the academy, he still believed he hadn’t reached his full potential as a wrestler.

“I never reached my goals of qualifying for [Division I] nationals,” Gable said. “I felt like my college career didn’t end on a great note because I had a pretty bad concussion that kept me out for three months of the season.”

Back on the Wrestling Mat

Three years after graduating from the academy and leaving wrestling, Gable got a chance to try out for the Air Force wrestling team.

“When I heard about the opportunity to wrestle again and felt I was capable of competing, I couldn’t pass it up,” Gable said.

Gable took advantage of his opportunity and made the team in the 190-pound weight class, which is nearly 15 pounds heavier than his college weight.

Learning how to wrestle at a higher weight presents challenges, but Gable is excited about his new opportunity to excel.

“Clay is a very talented wrestler,” said Floyd Winter, the Air Force wrestling head coach. “At the Armed Forces Championships last February, he lost his match by one point. The Armed Forces Wrestling Championships is one of the best wrestling tournaments in the United States. Had he won his match, he would have medaled. I expect him to win a medal at the 2017 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships and compete in the National Championships.”

Gable plans to improve on his 2016 season by working hard in the off season.

“My goal for now is to win the Armed Force Wrestling Championships in the next couple years,” he said.

{Source: U.S. Department of Defense-Media Relations – By Air Force Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski -460th Space Wing}

[Photo credits-featured image: US Marine Corps (USMC) Corporal (CPL) Jacob Clark (dressed in red), a member of the All Marines Wrestling Team, competes in a Freestyle wresting match against a member of the All US Air Force (USAF) Team, during the Armed Forces Wrestling Championship held in New Orleans, Louisiana (LA). Author: Staff Sergeant Jason M. Carter, USMC (Released to Public) – By Staff Sergeant Jason M. Carter, USMC – Defenseimagery.mil, VIRIN 040307-M-RS496-226, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2625376 ]

[Intext photo: inserted by openeyesopinion.com (credits embedded)

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