Former Madison wrestling team captain, and Mayors Cup champion, Gordei Tchekelenkov, is now wearing the Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st Airborne Division.
Fulfilling a dream of being a special operations soldier, Gordei took his first step by earning his Air Assault wings at the U.S. Army Air Assault School. His next step will be the physically demanding, and most unforgiving, Army Ranger school.
In short, what Gordei is really doing is, he is living his dream.
Following a PSAL Individual City Championship his sophomore year in 2008, Gordei suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the first half of the 2008-09 season. Undeterred, Gordei worked hard to overcome the injury, and once cleared to wrestled, went on to claim the 160 pound title at the 2009 Mayors Cup.
Following the victory, Gordei was interviewed by the New York Daily News, and when asked what his plans for college were, he answered quickly; to be a U.S. Army Green Beret.
Madison Wrestling has sported the team motto, “Take the Pain” since 2007. It is stenciled on the back of every wrestler’s sweatshirt, and T-shirt. It would be that terse phrase Gordei would lean on during his difficult match. Discussing his double overtime victory, with a pin at 7:39, Gordei stated he “felt close to death, I had to dig deep…when I wrestle I don’t pay attention to pain…”
Gordei would miss his senior season due to a re-injury of the knee. Despite this set back, he worked hard at his rehabilitation and never gave up on his goal to pursue a career in the Army. In the years following graduation, Gordei continued to strengthen his knee, and work on his stamina and over-all strength, so that when the Army did call, he would be ready.
Gordei’s perseverance, and his fierce determination to overcome obstacles, he credits to the lessons he learned as a wrestler. The demands of the sport taught him the valuable life lesson that in order to achieve your dreams, you must put in the work now, that you had to “Take the Pain.” It was the demands of the sport, and the program, that helped him be better prepared for the rigors of his Army training.
The road ahead for Gordei is quite daunting, and filled with many challenges. We all wish him the very best of luck, and to never forget, no matter how tired you are, you can always take one more step.