WRESTLING: Wrestling is a family thing for Sara Fulp-Allen
Sara Fulp-Allen of the New York AC started wrestling at the age of nine, but exposure to the sport began at a much earlier age."I was always around it so I don't really have anything to compare it to,"said Fulp-Allen."It was just always there."Her father Lee Allen, is the head coach at Menlo College in California and is the only coach the women's wrestling program there has ever had. Beyond coaching, he also competed at the 1960 Olympics in Rome in Greco-Roman. Fulp-Allen's sister, Katherine, is also a successful collegiate wrestler who competes at Menlo for their father. Needless to say wrestling is a family thing for Fulp-Allen. That familiarity with wrestling has helped her to be successful at all levels of the sport."The big thing is that she realizes that it's a long journey,"National Women's Coach Terry Steiner said."You can't expect to do well all the time. She knows it's a long commitment and doesn't get frustrated when she has a bad match or she is struggling."Having a father who knew wrestling inside and out was a positive experience for Fulp-Allen and she didn't struggle the way many of the wrestlers she grew up with."He has never been a pusher,"Fulp-Allen said."I knew so many girls who had parents who pushed them and then they would figure out that wrestling wasn't their thing. Someone else pushed them to keep wrestling."Not only did her father let her choose the sport for herself, but both her parents have been incredibly supportive throughout her career."Her dad and her mom have been very involved in her wrestling,"said Steiner."They are supporting, directing, and guiding her. They never make a big deal of a big win or a big loss. I think that consistent support is why she still really enjoys what she is doing."Since finishing her collegiate career at Menlo, Fulp-Allen has moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., to live and train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC). Fulp-Allen had spent time at the OTC before for training camps and that experience has made this transition an easy one for her."As far as the actual transition, I have been coming to train here every summer, spring break, Christmas break,"said Fulp-Allen."The only difference now is that I have all my stuff."The move out to the OTC has brought growth to Fulp-Allen's abilities as a wrestler in all areas."It's been all around that I have seen improvement,"Fulp-Allen said."In skill and strength, and I feel like I am a lot more focused now."Steiner agrees that one area Fulp-Allen has made a lot of improvement is strength and conditioning."Her strength, her consistency in the weight room, and, in general, her conditioning have also gotten better,"said Steiner. The environment at the OTC has not only helped her improve as a wrestler, but also provides her with a place that she can completely focus on wrestling, and is much less distracted than she has ever been."Here, there is a lot less multi-tasking,"said Fulp-Allen."I study less, I work less, and I don't have class. My priority has really become wrestling."The focus on wrestling, along with the knowledge of the sport, has put Fulp-Allen in a position to be very successful against other American wrestlers and against international opponents. It has also increased her confidence and belief in her own abilities."Her belief in herself, knowing that she is prepared and doing the right thing has really helped her,"Steiner said. She was the champion of the 2008 Dave Schultz Memorial International, February 8-10, in the 48 kg/105.5 lbs. weight class that included the six top-ranked wrestlers in the U.S. at that weight. Fulp-Allen, currently ranked No. 4, pinned No. 3 Clarissa Chun of the Sunkist Kids in a fast-paced finals match with a final score of 2-4, 4-2, 1:28. She also beat fifth-ranked Alyssa Lampe of the USOEC in the quarterfinals, outscoring Lampe 3-1, 8-2. That performance helped Fulp-Allen receive Outstanding Female Wrestler for the tournament. Unfortunately, she didn't get to be there to receive the award, but it was still exciting to hear about."I actually wasn't there when they announced it,"Fulp-Allen said."I had to go to doping. Sally Roberts actually told me. I was kind of in shock."While Fulp-Allen was happy to get the win with so many of the top wrestlers in her weight class competing, she also wants a chance to take each one of them on."It was great to get a win in,"said Fulp-Allen."I didn't wrestle everyone and everyone wrestles differently. Every draw is different. I am going to wrestle my opponent in a different way than someone else might."Even while Fulp-Allen was still in college, she put impressive performance in national and international competitions. In 2005, she was a World University Championships bronze medalist, a U.S. Nationals champion, and the runner-up at the U.S. World Team Trials. During her freshman year of college, Fulp-Allen was a U.S. College Nationals champion, a gold medalist at the Pan American Championships, and third at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. After so much success leading up to those Olympics, it's no wonder that Fulp-Allen wants another chance in June to make the U.S Olympic Team. Fulp-Allen will use upcoming competitions to help prepare for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. At the same time, Fulp-Allen and the coaching staff realize that she is young, and the future of her career is just as important as right now is. This weight class is also one of the deepest in women's wrestling."There are definitely some veteran wrestlers in this weight class and it will definitely be an uphill battle for her,"said Steiner."(Stephanie) Murata and (Patricia) Miranda have done well at the weight before. Sara realizes that she is here for the long haul, until at least 2012. She is doing everything she can whether or not she makes it to the 2008 Games."First, she travels to Belarus in March, and then she is set to compete in the University Nationals and the U.S. National Championship tournaments. After the U.S. Nationals, Fulp-Allen will shift her focus to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling to be held in Las Vegas, Nev., June 12-15 at the Thomas Mack Center."After Nationals, before the Olympic trials, there's a good break to be able to peak for trials,"Fulp-Allen said."There's really the right amount of competition."No matter the outcome of the competition at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Fulp-Allen is an important member of USA women's freestyle program. Part of the credit for her success belongs to her family, and the support they have given her."I see her as a big part of our program now and in the future,"Steiner said.