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Lakewood coach hits the mat

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  • | 4:00 a.m. August 22, 2012
  • East County
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LAKEWOOD RANCH —  Five years ago, Pat Ancil walked off the wresting mat for the final time — prepared to step back from the sport he had been competing in since the fifth grade.

He unofficially retired from competitive wrestling in 2007 after finishing as the runner-up at the Veterans National Wrestling Championships.

At the time, Ancil, who won a national title in 2005, had been competing in the oldest age division.

But in April, the Lakewood Ranch High wrestling coach returned to the mat in preparation for the Veterans World Wrestling Championships Sept. 15 to 22, in Hungary.

Ancil made the decision to compete after he learned that two, new age divisions had been added to the field. Ancil will compete in the 76 kilograms (167.5 pounds) weight class of the 61- to 65-year-old division.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve got my health. I’m fairly active. I lift weights, ride my bike and wrestle with the kids. I’ll try it for a month or two and crank up my conditioning,’” Ancil said.

“I look at it as one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” Ancil said. “It’s on my bucket list. I’m going because I can and I want to give it a shot. The plane ride scares me more than anything.”

Ancil is one of 40 wrestlers from the United States competing in the championships. During the championships, he will compete in Greco-Roman, which incorporates upper-body strength with locks, throws and holds, and in freestyle wrestling.

Ancil began training seriously for the competition in April by lifting four days a week, biking two to three hours a day and wrestling two-to-three days a week while also incorporating stretching, yoga and asymmetric workouts.

In addition, Ancil also has spent ample time studying films, especially the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing how I stack up with wrestlers my age and my weight,” said Ancil, who will be competing against former national and world champions during the competition. “Conditioning is going to be the key. I’ve been working really hard on my cardio. All of the European countries compete in both Greco-Roman and freestyle. They’re incredibly gifted wrestlers.”

Ancil will travel to Hungary with St. Stephen’s Episcopal School coach Steve Contarino, who finished fifth in the world championships last year, and Lemon Bay High coach Mike Schick.

“My goal is to do the best I can possibly do,” Ancil said. “Obviously, I want to win, but I understand that I have to be realistic. I’ve never competed at an international level, and I’m going to be competing against former world champions and the top wrestlers.”

“You have to have goals,” he said. “I try every day to prepare myself the best I can to achieve my goals and help set an example for the kids.”

Ancil started wrestling when he was in the fifth grade and was a district champion and state qualifier in high school. He began coaching at Lakewood in 2005 as a volunteer coach. Ancil became an assistant coach the following year and was named the Mustangs’ head coach in 2007.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].


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