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2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions in men's freestyle (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jared Frayer was battling more than his opponent Brent Metcalf on Sunday night in the finals of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa. He was also battling a loud, pro-Metcalf crowd in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The 33-year-old Frayer defeated Metcalf in two intense, hard-fought matches to make the U.S. Olympic Team at 66 kilos in men's freestyle.
Jared Frayer (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Frayer, who coached at Iowa during the 2008-09 season, heard all the fans rooting against him ... and loved it.
"I know these fans," said Frayer, who wrestled collegiately at Oklahoma and now serves as an assistant coach for the Sooners. "They know me. I love it. You've got to get amped up for it. You don't see this. You may see it in Iran or Russia, but in the United States it's just awesome."
Metcalf, a 2010 U.S. World Team member, was distraught in defeat, but appreciative of the fan support.
"I appreciate all the support of all the fans that came out," said Metcalf. "I hope that they continue to support freestyle wrestling, and I hope that our club can start bringing home more gold."
Frayer, a Florida native, had never previously made a U.S. World or Olympic team, but had been knocking on the door for many years. He was runner-up at the Trials 2006, 2007, and 2009.
"I learned a lot from it," Frayer said of coming up short three times. "There are some studs out there. I didn't lay it on the line as much ... and I don't think I prepared the right way. This year I'm older, wiser, and did things right. I listened to my body. I think it was just experience."
Frayer was not the only former Sooner wrestler to make the U.S. Olympic Team in men's freestyle on Sunday night. Sam Hazewinkel, a four-time All-American at Oklahoma (2004-2007), punched his ticket to London with a victory over longtime rival Nick Simmons at 55 kilos.
Hazewinkel, like Frayer, has come up just short numerous times in major events throughout his career. As a college competitor, Hazewinkel reached the NCAA semifinals four times, but never won an NCAA title. He was runner-up at the Trials in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011.
"It's been a long battle ... It really has," said Hazewinkel, whose father and uncle were U.S. Olympians in Greco-Roman. "It says something about perseverance and keeping your head up, and staying positive. I'll tell you ... the last few years it got hard. It really did. You get that many seconds and it becomes its own battle just thinking you can take first. We worked real hard on mental game this year and just getting over that hump, and I believe it paid off."
Jake Herbert, a 2009 World silver medalist, earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team at 84 kilos with a victory in the finals over Travis Paulson. Paulson took the opening match in their best-of-three series, but Herbert came back to win the final two matches and outscore Paulson 12-5 in those two matches.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," Herbert said moments after defeating Paulson. "Being an Olympian is amazing, but I just can't wait to get back to my family and hang out with them tonight. It's been a big sacrifice. The ups and downs have been crazy this year. I've been hurt. I've been injured. I've been emotionally hurt and physically hurt, and to be able to come through and come back and dig deep and get this is huge."
Another past World medalist, Tervel Dlagnev, made the U.S. Olympic in men's freestyle, coming through a deep weight class to claim the title at 120 kilos.
Dlagnev, a 2009 World bronze medalist, defeated 2010 U.S. World Team member Les Sigman in the finals. The two wrestlers were college rivals while wrestling at Division II schools in Nebraska schools, and the rivalry has continued on the senior level.
"I think I just tied it up in freestyle," said Dlagnev when asked where the series stands with Sigman. "I don't think I can catch him if we count college. He beat me a bunch. In freestyle I think I just tied it. A lot of history."
So what does making the U.S. Olympic team mean to the Bulgarian-born Dlagnev?
"Well, it means everything that I've been doing in my wrestling career up to this point is the right thing," said Dlagnev. "Man, I'm just too excited."
Coleman, Provisor, Johnson win titles in Greco-Roman
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions in Greco-Roman (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
In the Greco-Roman competition, three former Northern Michigan wrestlers, Ellis Coleman (60 kilos), Ben Provisor (74 kilos), and R.C. Johnson (96 kilos), won Trials titles on Sunday. All three now live and train in Colorado Springs.
Coleman, a two-time Junior World bronze medalist, defeated two-time U.S. World Team member Joe Betterman. Coleman, who is best known his flying squirrel move that has made him an Internet sensation, won the first match in two straight periods, 1-0, 2-0. He closed out the victory with a three-period win, 0-2, 5-0, 1-0.
"I'm just grateful," said Coleman. "I've got to give it all to the man above. Without God there is nothing. I'm grateful the opportunity is there for me. He gave me everything here. He gave me the strength. He gave me the power. And then I've got all my fans and my family, everybody here with me. I'm just grateful ... I'm just real grateful."
Provisor, a runner-up at the 2011 U.S. World Team Trials, edged veteran Aaron Sieracki in the finals at 74 kilos. Sieracki, a 2012 U.S. Open champion, took the opening match in the best-of-three series, but Provisor battled back to win the final two matches and make his first U.S. Olympic Team at the age of 21.
Johnson, a 2009 U.S. World Team member, won the title at 96 kilos with a two matches to zero victory over his Sunkist Kids training partner Pete Gounaridis. The U.S. has not qualified the weight class for the Olympic Games, so Johnson's Trials title does not place him on the U.S. Olympic Team. Justin Ruiz, who sat out the Trials, will wrestle in an Olympic qualifying event in China next weekend. If Ruiz qualifies the weight class for the Olympic Games, Ruiz and Johnson will have a wrestle-off to determine the spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
"It's do or die," said Johnson. "Trials time comes every year. If you win Trials, you go on. If not, you can't. Whether now it's going to a wrestle-off or try to qualify the weight, whatever happens. Now I have the opportunity do that. If I wouldn't have won the season is over."
Chun, Pirozhkova round out women's team
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions in women's freestyle (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
Clarissa Chun (48 kilos) and Elena Pirozhkova (63 kilos) claimed titles on Sunday. The two join Saturday champions Kelsey Campbell (55 kilos) and Stephany Lee (72 kilos) on the U.S. Olympic Team in women's freestyle.
Chun, a 2008 World champion, was pushed in the finals by Alyssa Lampe, but prevailed in three matches to make her second U.S. Olympic Team.
"I almost gave myself and my coaches a heart attack," said Chun, who becomes the first two-time U.S. Olympian in women's freestyle wrestling.
Pirozhkova, who was born in Russia and raised in Massachusetts, handled 2011 World bronze medalist Adeline Gray in the finals. Pirozhkova, a 2010 World silver medalist, won two matches to zero and outscored Gray 9-1.
"It wasn't my best match," Pirozhkova said of her win over Gray. "It was a lot of hand fighting. I did what I had to do, but I think I'm capable of a lot more."
The attendance for Sunday night's Session IV was 13,712. The total attendance for the two-day event held in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was 54,766, which set an Olympic Team Trials record.
55 kilos: Nick Simmons (Sunkist Kids) def. Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Simmons dec. Hazewinkel, 2-0, 0-5, 5-4
Hazewinkel dec. Simmons, 0-1, 1-0, 2-0
Hazewinkel dec. Simmons, 0-1, 4-0, 3-0
66 kilos: Jared Frayer (Gator WC) def. Brent Metcalf (New York AC), 2 matches to
Frayer dec. Metcalf, 5-1, 0-4, 6-0
Frayer dec. Metcalf, 2-1, 0-1, 2-2
84 kilos: Jake Herbert (New York AC) def. Travis Paulson (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Paulson dec. Herbert, 0-1, 2-1, 1-1
Herbert dec. Paulson, 4-2, 3-2
Herbert dec. Paulson, 3-0, 2-1
120 kilos: Tervel Dlagnev (Sunkist Kids) def. Les Sigman (Nittany Lion WC), 2 matches to 0
Dlagnev dec. Sigman, 3-0, 4-0
Dlagnev dec. Sigman, 1-0, 2-0
60 kilos: Ellis Coleman (New York AC) def. Joe Betterman (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Coleman dec. Betterman, 1-0, 2-0
Coleman dec. Betterman, 0-2, 5-0, 1-0
74 kilos: Ben Provisor (Sunkist Kids) def. Aaron Sieracki (U.S. Army), 2 matches to 1
Sieracki dec. Provisor, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0
Provisor dec. Sieracki, 2-0, 1-0
Provisor dec. Sieracki, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
96 kilos: R.C. Johnson (Sunkist Kids) def. Pete Gounaridis (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Johnson dec. Gounaridis, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
Johnson dec. Gounaridis, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
48 kilos: Clarissa Chun (Sunkist Kids) def. Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Chun dec. Lampe, 0-2, 1-0, 3-1
Lampe dec. Chun, 0-7, 2-2, 5-2
Chun dec. Lampe, 2-0, 2-2, 4-1
63 kilos: Elena Pirozhkova (Gator WC) def. Adeline Gray (New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Pirozhkova dec. Gray, 1-0, 4-0
Pirozhkova dec. Gray, 1-0, 4-0