Wrestling coach aiming for spot on Olympic team

By Fred Konrath

NIU’s assistant wrestling coach Phil Rembert will be competing April 9 to 11 for a spot on the 1992 Summer Olympics Judo team, and April 21 to 24 for a chance at the Greco-Roman Style Wrestling squad.

Rembert, a 1985 NIU graduate, was a two-time national qualifier for the Huskies and has since helped out NIU wrestling coach Ed Vatch.

Rembert will be in Pittsburgh next weekend competing with Judo athletes from around the nation for rights to make the final Olympic Trials. Rembert, a brown belt, is only in his second year of Judo competition and will be representing Illinois as the 158-pound champion.

“I think I can come out as one of the top three in judo, and hopefully that will qualify me for the final trials, and possibly become an alternate for the Olympic team,” Rembert said.

Rembert has had good experience with outside competition and has been on a traveling team that has faced Canada, Russia, and South Korea. He also has been working out with the national team in Skokie, Ill., and said the fierce competition will help him in Pittsburgh.

Rembert hopes if his Judo Olympic dreams don’t come alive, his Greco-Roman Style Wrestling hopes will. Rembert’s combined wrestling and judo skills should help him in both Olympic events. Rembert has been keeping in shape by wrestling in open competitions.

Rembert recently beat the 4th-ranked wrestler in the nation at 149 pounds, thus giving him extreme confidence going into the pre-Olympic Wrestling Trials in Las Vegas.

“Realistically my best shot at making it to the final trials is in wrestling, because I’ve been doing it for so long,” Rembert said. If Rembert places in the top eight of his weight class he will receive an automatic bid for the final Olympic trials.

“I feel I’m right there with the top three in the nation and I’ll be really comfortable with who I’d wrestle in the finals,” Rembert said. “I was one match away from making it to the world team trials last year after losing 2-1 and I’ve really picked up the pace after wrestling for a full-year round this year.

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger at my weight class and I really think I can go in there and dominate some people and make it to the finals,” he continued.

“Greco-wrestling is all upper body (all throwing) and so is Judo. Judo has helped my Greco so much that when I’m in trouble in Judo, I use my wrestling skills,” Rembert said.