WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – Grapplers from across the country recently competed for a chance to be part of Team USA at the world grappling championships happening in September.
The team has a total of eight spots. Three of them are taken by athletes from central Indiana.
More specifically, they are athletes who all train in the same facility in West Lafayette.
Carlos Soto is the head coach and founder of Impact Zone Training Center.
It’s a facility whose mission is to help people reach success through martial arts and strength.
A six-time gold medalist with multiple black belts, Soto says grappling is a form of self-defense.
“It’s a lot like jiu-jitsu, but it’s also a sport,” says Soto.
Athletes win by either points or submission, which is when a person taps out and says, “I’m done.”
This year will be Soto’s fifth time being on Team USA at the grappling world championship.
He says 2019 will be different.
Teammates Nick Kroegher and Juan Carlos Cholula will be joining Soto after both men placed first at the world trials in Colorado Springs’ U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
Soto, Kroegher and Cholula say grappling is about building a community.
Representing Indiana is a big part of that.
“One of the neatest blessings of this whole thing is being able to put Team USA on your back and go compete, so it’s a huge honor and huge blessing. When you’re having a hard training, it makes you think about what you’re representing,” said Soto.
Both Kroegher and Cholula have been grappling at Impact Zone for five years.
Kroegher says grappling has changed his life and made him a better father.
Cholula says it’s given him discipline and friendship.
Both credit Soto for inspiring them to be better, practice harder and believe that anything is possible.
The grappling trio will head to Kazakhstan in September to compete for a world title.
In the meantime, these three Indiana men plan to keep their weight down and their time in the gym up.