Two Marines represented Team USA at the 2019 Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Sgt Raymond Bunker of Chicago, Illinois, and Sgt John Stefanowicz of York, Pennsylvania competed in the Greco-Roman division at the World Championships.
In the Greco-Roman style of wrestling, wrestlers use just their arms and upper bodies to attack their opponent and are not allowed to hold onto their opponent’s lower body. The Greco-Roman style contrasts the freestyle form where wrestlers also use their legs and can hold opponents above or below the waist.
The Greco-Roman World Team consists of 10 weight classes ranging from 121.3 pounds to 286.6 pounds. In an Olympic year, the World Team members are the U.S. Olympians; however, there are only six weight classes in the Olympics. Sgt Bunker wrestled at the 72 kg weight class, and Sgt Stefanowicz wrestled at the 82 kg weight class.
Bunker collected plenty of hardware this year, winning the U.S. Open, the Dave Shultz Memorial International tournament and the Armed Forces Championship. He took bronze in the Poland Open this August.
Stefanowicz earned his spot in the World Championships by knocking off U.S. Open champion Kendrick Sanders in the 82 kg Greco-Roman division at Final X: Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey in June. Stefanowicz won the World Team Trials Challenge in Raleigh, North Carolina in May 2019. He also got bronze in Poland in August 2019.
Sgt Bunker won his first-round match but then lost to a former World Bronze Medalist, 5-6. Sgt Stefanowicz was one match away from wrestling for a world medal when he lost to the World Champion and the World Bronze Medalist.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Stefanowicz was not the most recognized person when it came to wrestling. He wrestled in high school but did not have a lot of success. He described himself as being a mediocre wrestler and a below-average student. The opportunity to go to college did not present itself to him, so he gave up on his dream to wrestle, until being introduced to the All-Marine Wrestling Team.
Bunker is recognized on the wrestling team as one of the hardest working athletes in the room. His sacrifices have resulted in constant improvements and a high level of success. He went from not winning a single match his first year and a half on the team, to an Armed Forces Champion, a National Champion, and a World Team Member for Team USA.
The U.S. All-Marine Running Team brings home a win at the 2019 Warriors Across the Sea Half Marathon Championship in England!
Congratulations to 1st Lt. Lindsay R. Carrick, Officer Candidate School, MCB Quantico, Virginia, and Staff Sergeant Jason T. Pacheco, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, California who have been chosen as the 2018 Marine Corps Semper Fit Athletes of the year.