Gopher wrestler Mitch McKee is ready to represent his country on one of the biggest junior stages in the world. The United Junior World Wrestling Tournament will be held in Tempere, Finland in just under a week. McKee, along with Assistant Coach Dustin Schlatter, will be representing the red, white and blue on the international stage.
McKee earned a spot on the roster that is comprised of wrestlers 20 years of age or younger. On June 9, he earned his world team spot by winning the US Junior World Team Trials Tournament on June 9 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
McKee avenged his 2-1 loss in 2016 by defeating Austin Gomez in a best two out of three finals series where McKee won the first match by a score of 10-0, then lost to Gomez 11-8, before clinching the title with an exciting 6-5 decision. Gomez wrestles for Iowa State during the collegiate season.
McKee competes at the 60-kilogram weight class during this world tournament, which converts to approximately 132-pounds. Competition is set at eight weight classes at the United World Wrestling Tournament which will be held from August 1 to August 6. McKee says he is going to give it his best in Finland.
“I’m looking forward to going out and giving it everything I have, so when I come home, no matter the outcome, I know that I did everything I possibly could,” said McKee. “I believe there’s only two things you can control and that is your attitude and your effort, and if you don’t have a positive attitude and 100 percent effort only great things will come.”
McKee has previously competed at world tournaments. When he was 14-years old, he wrestled at the Cadet World Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan. McKee says he is thrilled to represent his country again.
“I can’t wait to go represent my country and bring home the gold. Also, I want to thank all the people who have helped me get to where I am at today, especially my mom, my brother and my girlfriend. They have pushed me and brought only the best out of me, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Also headed to Finland will be Minnesota’s Assistant Coach, Dustin Schlatter. Schlatter will be one of three coaches with the junior world team. He has been helping prepare the USA wrestlers in Colorado for the past few weeks. Once in Finland, he will be working directly with a handful of the USA wrestlers, including McKee.
Schlatter has a long history with international wrestling. His resume on the international stage includes multiple international medals and top-three finishes at national tournaments spanning from 2009 to 2015. In one of his most-recent competition, the 2015 Pan American Championships, Schlatter won the 70-kilogram gold medal by outscoring his opponents, 41-0. Schlatter says the competition is one of the best he has ever been involved with.
“It really is a step up for a lot of these guys. Each country brings the best they have to offer, and they have different styles that some of these guys do not see as much back home. It is important that these guys are comfortable and we do our best to prepare everyone so they can be as successful as they can be in this type of competition.”
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