Posts tagged "wrestling"

“Wrestling” my way into a Team USA event

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, I had the most fun I have had since arriving in London. I was lucky enough to attend the Team USA men’s freestyle wrestling practice and media day.

I used to wrestle—starting in the fourth or fifth grade and continued through my senior year of high school. Needless to say, I loved every minute of the practice and media day.

While I was there, I got to interview and talk with many of wrestlers. Going in, I was most excited to talk with Sam Hazenwinkel, and I did just that. I talked to him for most of the media day. He was such a cool guy and had great stories to tell.

After talking with him for a while, we parted ways and I changed my focus to his roommate Tervel Dlagnev, the heavyweight. He was a fun guy to talk to as well. He had a great sense of humor, all the while keeping his seriousness at the forefront.

I traveled around the room for about 30 to 45 minutes, talking to as many wrestlers as I could before they started practicing. They began with a warm-up and then grabbed their wrestling partners and got to work.

Watching their practice made me miss wrestling and want to start back up again. In all reality, I probably won’t, but it was a nice thought at the time. I didn’t think I would miss wrestling that much after high school, but I do now. Getting back on the mat would be fun.

What may have not sounded fun to others was something I loved. I wish I could go back to more of their practices and media days. They were really cool guys and the atmosphere was awesome. It was easily the best day I have had during this trip.

Charlie Akers  |  Sports Reporter

@The8thKing

Rediscovering his Olympic dream: the Jared Frayer story

By Conor Hockett  |  BSU at the Games

In 2008, Jared Frayer decided to give up the sport of wrestling—his Olympic dream was dead.

After he finished serving as a training partner for the US Olympic wrestling team in Beijing, Frayer was heading back home to teach and coach high school wrestling in Florida.

Helping others get ready for their matches was the closest he’d get to the Olympic Games, and Frayer accepted that.

But it all changed when, just before leaving China, Frayer received a strange job offer for someone who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

“As crazy as it was, the University of Iowa is what brought me back (into wrestling),” Frayer said. “They offered me a job in Beijing, and I took it. I went half a year (at Iowa) and then asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I wrestle these guys every day and I should still compete. That brought me right back into it.”

At the 2012 Olympic Trials in April, nearly four years had passed since Frayer had taken the assistant coaching position at Iowa, a rival for Oklahoma in college wrestling.

Frayer was back in Iowa City, Iowa, but not as a coach. He had just beaten Brent Metcalf in the 66kg weight class in freestyle wrestling to qualify for his first Olympic Games.

“Physically I was there, but mentally I wasn’t ready to make that (the Olympic) step (earlier in my career),” Frayer said. “I don’t know whether it was becoming a father or just growing up a  little bit, but I made that jump mentally and that allowed me the confidence and ability to make the team.”

At 33 years old, Frayer’s journey to London wasn’t ideal. But after his daughter, Khloe, was born with Down syndrome, Frayer used her struggle to inspire himself, his teammates and a teenager from Florida to never give up on their dreams.

A Wrestling Background

With a dad, David, who wrestled in college and coached after, Frayer was born into the sport. Ever since he was a baby, Frayer said he followed his dad to practices and always wanted to get involved.

“In Florida, wrestling isn’t as big,” Frayer said. “When I was young the sport wasn’t where it is now. So I had to do about everything—go all over the country (to wrestle). I was blessed with a father who was able to do that. Summer times were filled with traveling, and you wrestled as many tournaments as you could.”

David coached Frayer at Countryside High School in Florida where he won three state championships before heading to Oklahoma.

Frayer was a two-time All-American at Oklahoma and finished as the 2002 NCAA runner-up at 149 lbs. After graduating, all his efforts turned toward making the Olympic team.

Before qualifying in 2012, Frayer’s career resembled a journeyman—countless clubs and teams throughout the US and even a few stints overseas.

Wrestling in Iran, Frayer said he remembers fans heckling him about his high school record. Training sessions in India and tournaments in Cuba were the norm. He’d seen and done just about everything in the sport of wrestling.

He was always good enough to stick around, but was missing the big breakthrough into the Games.

In 2010, after losing to Metcalf in the World Team Trials, Frayer decided he was done finishing second. He’d made a career of it after finishing runner-up at the 2006 and 2009 US World Team Trials along with not qualifying for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

The loss was a turning point in his career. He took a year off to have Khloe and that’s when everything changed. He found a new motivation and mental edge through watching his daughter.

“Now that I look back at it, I think it (having Khloe) played a huge part,” Frayer said. “I think being able to take that year to focus on her and focus on the family really allowed me to grow up and mature a little bit. I think it played a major part in me being able to lay it on the line and get the victory (to qualify).”

Six months into the pregnancy, Frayer and his wife, Nicole, found out Khloe would be born with Down syndrome. It was a shock to both of them, but he said they tried to just learn as much as they could about the disease.

“It’ll make a man look inside himself and find out what he’s all about,” Frayer said. “I remember where I was when it was 100 percent. You think you’re the only guy in the world (dealing with it). But you find out it’s a situation people go through and they grow from. You hear more good things about children with Down syndrome than you do anything bad. It’s just an awesome experience.”

It was an experience that, mathematically, he and his wife were destined to go through.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the odds of having a child with Down syndrome are 1 in 1,250 (.08 percent). Frayer said the blood tests from he and Nicole were higher than normal. Khloe had a seven percent chance of being born with the disease and, if they had a second child, the chances were five percent.

It was a risk Frayer doesn’t regret taking.

“Khloe is just a ball fire,” Frayer said. “I love hearing her in the background when I’m talking to my wife—love Skyping her. She’s nonstop smiling. She struggles, but she has her own way and I think that’s going to be her whole life. She’s so easy to love—just a joy.”

Frayer said Khloe is delayed in her speech and movements, but is now walking. Despite her limitations, he and Nicole decided to have a second child.

“I think everybody takes that (the odds) into consideration after having a firstborn that has Down syndrome,” Frayer said. “It’s out of our hands. My wife and I have a pretty strong spiritual background. The Lord blessed us with Khloe, and if we had another one (child with down syndrome), we were going to love her just the same.”

Blessing in Disguise

Since Khloe was born, however, everything seems to be going Frayer’s way. Nicole gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Beckett Olivia, two weeks ago. She was due during the Games, but was born during a three-day period between Frayer’s training camp and his trip to London.

“She (Beckett) is just so little and so precious,” Frayer said. “She was (delivered) five weeks earlier than Khloe was. I got less than two days with her, and I just can’t wait to get back to her. It was definitely a blessing. The Lord had us under his watch, and we were able to sneak her in there.”

Khloe is 19 months old now and Beckett is a perfectly healthy baby. Being the spiritual man he is, Frayer said something has been on his side.

Frayer’s good fortune through a life of struggles has inspired teammates to train even harder.

“Our stories are a lot alike,” Sam Hazewinkel said, the US’s 55kg wrestler. “We both wrestled in Florida, both wrestled at OU. It’s an inspiration to me to watch him fight through. Seeing what he goes through and training with him is awesome. When everything is going on and I start thinking things are going hard for me, I just think, how can I complain? This guy is fighting through all of this and has the best attitude in the world.”

Frayer’s road to the Olympic Games may be the hardest and longest on the team, but it doesn’t take away from the respect other wrestlers have for him.

“My first tour with him in ’08, he was telling me about how he felt like the old guy,” Jake Herbert said, the US’s 84kg wrestler. “Here we are four years later and he’s still going at it. He’s knowledgeable, he’s experienced and Jared is an all-around great guy. It (Frayer’s journey) show’s me this isn’t it for me.”

This hope for others comes because Frayer is the oldest guy on the team by five years. Hazewinkel said the guys don’t give him grief because he’s as dangerous as anyone.

“I’m calling it right now—the dude is gonna crush some people,” Hazewinkel said. “Mark my words, he’s getting some hardware. Would not surprise me at all if that guy comes away with gold. Of the whole team, he’s looked the best the last two weeks. I didn’t think I’d say that with Jordan Burroughs on the team, but he’s been amazing. In simulation matches, Frayer was pinning them (opponents), teching them—just making it look easy.”

Frayer said the visible improvement stems from the recent time devoted to his individual wrestling.

“All these years, I’ve been worried about other guy getting the medal when I’m the training partner,” Frayer said. “Now the last two months have been just me. It hasn’t been since I was probably in college that I focused on just me. I’ve made so much gain in the last month and a half. There’s no reason I’m not turning that outcome around (into something).”

Although his teammates think differently, Frayer acknowledges he’s not the favorite to win a medal. Mehdi Sadegh Taghavi Kermani of Iran has won two of the last three World Championships (2009, 2011) and will be his toughest test.

None of that fazes him though.

To win the Olympic Trials, Frayer had to defeat Metcalf, the same person who beat him at the World Trials in 2010, and the same man he coached for a brief time at Iowa.

“I just had the belief I could beat him because I have in the past,” Frayer said. “I had the approach that it was my match and I was going to take it from him.”

A Wish Granted

It’s that kind of attitude which comes out in Frayer’s wrestling. That’s why Blake Chandler, a 19 year old from just outside Tampa, Fla., has been a fan for years.

Chandler is a wrestler himself, but his situation is different. He is limited to grappling with one leg after a vicious bone cancer forced an amputation of his left leg.

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma March 29, 2011, Chandler managed to fight the disease for nearly a year before losing his leg.

As part of the Make A Wish Foundation, Chandler was allowed to visit the US Olympic wrestling camp on August 7 to meet with all the athletes.

But the one wrestler he wanted to meet more than any other was Frayer.

“I’ve been watching him since I was a freshman,” Chandler said. “I watch his moves and he’s just an amazing wrestler. When I was granted the wish to come here, his parents came to see me and gave me T-shirts and presented me with most of the stuff he has as well. His parents have been awesome to me.”

A handful of US coaches also went down to Florida to present Chandler with tickets and gear at his high school. He was flown to London and was allowed to watch practice and get invaluable instruction.

“I’m having a blast,” Chandler said at the practice session. “I feel very privileged just to be standing in the training room with everybody.”

His journey isn’t stopping there. Two weeks after his amputation, Chandler said he was back on the mat. He hopes to wrestle adult leagues in Florida and have fun with it.

“It’s pretty weird going from wrestling two legs to one,” Chandler said. “It’s going to be all technique and I love it. Learning how to shoot and defend my one leg is pretty hard. Defending on one, I have only one leg to worry about. They’re only going to attack my one leg, so it’s a bonus in a lot of different ways.”

It’s easy to see why Chandler is attracted to Frayer. Their personalities are positive and infectious. Despite each other’s limitations at home or on the mat, they’ve overcome every obstacle.

The Olympic obstacle is the last for Frayer. He’s going into his second year as an assistant coach at Oklahoma and said he looks forward to getting back to recruiting. After all his travels and relocations due to wrestling, he is finally at home back in his college town.

“I was there for six years right out of high school,” Frayer said. “There are so many people around the program that I’m so close with. There’s nothing like flying into TIA (Tampa International Airport) and going back home. But, definitely, Norman, Oklahoma, is my second home and a place I feel really comfortable in.”

The underdog role is another thing Frayer finds comfort in. When he competes on Sunday, likely in his last Olympic Games, it’s exactly the situation Frayer will find himself in.

“I’ve done my best wrestling when I wasn’t supposed to win,” Frayer said. “I don’t think there’s a journalist or a wrestling historian that gives me a shot and that’s exciting to me.”

Conor Hockett is a junior journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Conor and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Wrestler Jake Herbert prepares to win gold

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Wrestler Jake Herbert watches his weight and what he eats like most athletes in his field. He does find some unique things to enjoy the most. He loves to drink juices and said “Naked” was his favorite. Most notably, he doesn’t go straight to the water fountain after working out to rehydrate. Instead, Herbert drinks coconut water because it rehydrates you better.

All this caution and weight watching helped Herbert claim a 149-4 record at Northwestern University, and of his four losses, three were as a freshman and the fourth was in the national championship his sophomore year. It’s a record he hopes to improve on this year at the Olympic Games when the 84kg weight class begins wrestling Saturday.

“I’m 27-years-young, and I’m getting bigger, stronger, and quicker everyday. I feel like I am starting to hit my stride,” Herbert said.

Herbert doesn’t just focus on his food intake when preparing for the wrestling mat either. He lifts three times a week and wrestles seven. Two days he plays handball, which he said can get violent with all the wrestlers trying to play.

When it comes to finding a weak spot in an opponents defense, Herbert said at this level most people don’t have one, but he has a strong spot — his offense.

“I attack, attack, attack until I score or till they break down. They can defend one attack, but they can’t defend 14 or 15. They don’t have the endurance or the mental stamina to do that,” Herbert said.

Herbert looks to stay aggressive in his matches hoping to push hard enough to make his opponents tired or force them into a mistake. He said he has a relentless attack that is hard for people to stop, and while his style hasn’t made him the favorite to win gold, that doesn’t bother him. He has been training hard and wants the gold, which requires toppling Sharif Sharifov from Azerbaijan.

And Herbert doesn’t plan to come home with anything less than the top spot on the podium. If that happens, Herbert may just be able to enjoy one of his food splurges, burgers and donuts.

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Keeping it in the family: Son wrestles in father’s footsteps

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Growing up, Sam Hazewinkel hardly knew what it was like to lose. In high school, he was a perfect 140-0 with coaching help from his Olympian father, Dave Hazewinkel. At the University of Oklahoma, his winning ways continued with a 132-10 record.

Still, one thing was missing from his resume—a national title.

Hazewinkel had attempted to join Team USA’s World, National and Olympic teams but never made it. He achieved many seconds and thirds during this winning drought, including 10 third-place finishes and 15 second-places finishes from 2004 to 2011, but never a first.

Then came the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In the finals against Nick Simmons, he lost the first match and the first two rounds of the second match, seeming to have fallen short of his Olympic dreams yet again. Before he accepted defeat, though, he challenged a call made by the referee. What originally was called a 3-0 win for Simmons became a 1-0 win for Hazewinkel.

The trials came down to a third and deciding match that went into overtime. Hazewinkel came out ahead. He had made the Olympic team.

“In its own way it was a relief to finally get it,” he said, “but it’s also real exciting.”

Sam Hazewinkel’s father, Dave Hazewinkel, was also an Olympic athlete for Team USA, wrestling Greco-Roman along with his twin brother, Jim. Dave and Jim competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich. Sam also started out wrestling Greco-Roman but made the switch to freestyle after placing second at the 2008 Olympic Trials.

This is the first time there has been a father and son compete in the Olympic Games for Team USA Wrestling, and Sam Hazewinkel could not be more excited.

“It’s hard to put into words. It’s exciting. I’m getting to make history now, and what is cool is that it’s not necessarily my fault. My dad started it, and I’m just filling in,” Sam said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid, obviously, with my dad being an Olympian. I’m loving every minute of it and at the same time trying not to get to caught up in stuff going on.”

Neither Dave nor Jim Hazewinkel medaled either time they went to the Games, so Sam wants to be the one finally to bring home the gold for his family and Team USA. Still, he is trying not to feel burdened by the added expectations.

“There is pressure, but you soon learn to let it roll off. There is so much going on that if you worry about it, it’ll run you over,” said Sam, who is trying to keep what head coach Zeke Jones calls “laser focus.”

“Keep my focus and my mind right. Keep that laser focus and go crush some fools,” Sam said.

Sam’s roommate, Tervel Dlagnev, thinks USA Freestyle will do great things within the next three days.

“Everyone is in focus mode,” Dlagnev said. “USA Freestyle is going to make some noise.”

And Sam wants to do his part, to prove he learned something from all those seconds and thirds he has had over the years.

He’s settling for nothing less than gold.

“I didn’t come here to lose, that’s for sure,” Sam said. “I do know what that feeling is like, and I don’t want to feel it again. I’m going to win.”

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Preview of wrestler Justin Lester

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Justin Lester has had success on the international level, but not for a few years. He has not won a medal in any competition since he got back-to-back bronzes in 2006 and 2007 at the World Championships.

At the Olympic Games, Lester has a strategy for the 66kg Greco-Roman weight class to try and get back on the podium. He is looking to push the pace of the matches so he can catch his opponents off guard and take advantage of any mistakes this may cause them to make.

“Once you get to the highest level of wrestling everyone is good, it’s the person that makes that one mistake and you capitalize on it. That’s what I try to do. That’s my usual game plan,” Lester said.

After winning the 2011 USA Greco-Roman wrestler of the year, Lester is not letting it go to his head. He appreciates that it shows all the work he did last year, but he has to put it in the past, he said

When preparing to take on his opponents, Lester is not taking it easy with his pre-match warm-up.

“About half an hour of cardio and drilling and then I always do two competition matches. I usually try to get that in 45 minutes before my matches,” Lester said.

After the hard workout, he said he needs to calm his mind and listens to soul music. He said he prefers John Legend and Robin Thick because if he listens to anything else it gets his mind racing too much.

Lester does not have an easy road ahead of him to the gold. Iranian Saeid Mourad Adbevali, 22, is someone that Lester has to defeat. Since 2009 the Iranian has won the 2009 Junior Nationals, 2010 Asian Games and last two World Championships in the 66kg weight class with taking.

Lester said he is prepared for anything that could happen and is proud to be representing Team USA at the Olympic Games.

Lester is competing on Tuesday. Qualifying starts at 1 p.m. with the bronze medal match at 12:45 p.m. ET, and the gold medal match an hour later.

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Underdog wrestler keeps his Olympic promise

By Conor Hockett  |  BSU at the Games

When Ben Provisor was a freshman on the wrestling team at Stevens Point High School in Wisconsin, goal cards were handed out to everyone during a practice.

Provisor kept his blank for a while as his teammates filled theirs out with aspirations for the season and state tournament. Finally, Provisor wrote down two words—2012 Olympian.

It may seem crazy for a 22-year-old who never finished higher than third in the Wisconsin Wrestling High School State Championship or won a collegiate wrestling title to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

But after defeating No. 1 seed Aaron Sieracki in the final of the Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic qualifying at 74 kg (163 lbs) in April, Provisor left the mat with his hand raised, a tattoo of a cross with angel wings only half visible under his singlet.

“I know if I wrestle to my full potential, I can beat everybody in the U.S. [at 74 kg],” Provisor said. “I wrestle all the guys [in my weight class] all the time so it was awesome to win it. I was expecting to win the whole time, but I don’t know if anyone else did.”

Making it to London took more than confidence. Years of training under a former great and a promise to a special mentor put Provisor on track for Olympic glory.

A helpful neighbor

With no other athletes in his immediate family, Provisor said his parents, Dennis and Tammy, signed him up for various sports to see what would catch. It turned out he was attracted to the more violent sports.

“I was a really physical kid when I was younger,” Provisor said. “I played a lot of football and was always a little rougher than normal. My mom went to a wrestling tournament one time and she thought I would be good at it. I signed up for wrestling the next day.”

Provisor started entering city tournaments when he was 6 years old but said it was just for fun. When he turned 9, he decided to get more serious and joined the World Gold Wrestling Club.

That’s where he met Dennis Hall.

Hall was a bit of a local hero. He was originally from Plover, Wis., about two hours south of Stevens Point, but had lived, trained and run the club in Stevens Point for years.

A Greco-Roman wrestler himself, Hall was a three-time Olympian (1992, 1996 silver medalist and 2004), 10-time U.S. National Champion, and 1995 World Champion.

Inducted into the 2011 National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Hall also turned out to be Provisor’s neighbor.

The two began working at the club, and it didn’t take long for Hall to recognize Olympic potential in his young pupil.

“First time I saw him, I knew he was somebody that could possibly get to that level [the Olympic Games]. It was what I saw inside him—his dedication, his heart and how he loved to compete. I think if you don’t have it in your heart, no matter how much training you do, it’s not going to get you there.”

With all the tools in place, Hall started making special arrangements for his young wrestler. When Provisor was in eighth grade, Hall brought over several training partners from Bulgaria. One of those training partners stayed with Provisor at his house and they became close.

Shortly after, an opportunity to train back in Bulgaria came up for Provisor. At age 13, he lived in Bulgaria for a year, repeating eighth grade and training with top-tier Greco-Roman wrestlers.

During his time in Bulgaria is when he first realized he could be an Olympian, Provisor said. His stay there was part of Hall’s plan to get him ready to be just that.

“I think the trip showed him that guys are doing the Greco-Roman part full-time,” Hall said. “If he wants to win at the world level, he’s got to train at that level more.”

When Provisor returned, he started showing significant strides as a wrestler. As a freshman in high school, Provisor remembers the first time he ever could go toe-to-toe with Hall on the mat.

“I was like 130 pounds the first time I scored on him,” Provisor said. “I was super happy, but then I got my ass whooped by him.”

Once Provisor got to be a junior in high school and weighed about 170 lbs, he said Hall could no longer beat him. Hall wrestled competitively at 121 lbs and 127 lbs, and Provisor said he was too big for him.

Two dreams

After high school, Provisor enrolled at Northern Michigan. He didn’t wrestle there, but the Olympic dream still burned inside him. He went to school for one year but then had to make a choice. It was going to be London or bust.

“The partners I wanted to train with and the people I wanted to be around left, so I came to Colorado with them,” Provisor said. “It was sort of a choice between school and wrestling, and I picked wrestling. That’s what I’ve been working for my whole life and that’s what really matters to me. Education is super important, but if I wanted to get better at wrestling, I had to come to Colorado Springs.”

As a mother, Tammy Provisor was hesitant to let her son walk away from higher education, but she saw the potential in Ben.

“I supported him and he obviously knew where he was in terms of his body and his mind,” Tammy Provisor said. “He made the right decision because all his hard work has paid off.”

At 20, Provisor left the Midwest behind and moved to Colorado Springs. It was the wrestling environment he wanted. Provisor said he tried to go to school at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs for a while, but when he won the U.S. Open Wrestling Championships in 2011, he got too busy.

Provisor has been training in Colorado Springs for two years now, but no matter how busy he gets, Hall is never out of the loop. Hall said the two talk about three to five times a week about not only wrestling but also attitude and approach.

“I try and help Ben with the mental side of the game,” Hall said. “If you go watch the Olympics this summer, everyone is chiseled—there’s not one guy who doesn’t look an Olympic athlete. The difference between the guys who win and who don’t is the mental focus they have.”

Back in Stevens Point, Hall was doing more than just long-distance coaching.

Hall hadn’t competed since the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but something was drawing him back. It wasn’t the fact that Provisor was attempting to qualify—Hall had seen that coming for years. It was the desire to compete.

At age 41, Hall decided to try and qualify for the Olympic team at 132 lbs.

“I didn’t want any regrets,” Hall said. “Last year I was a training partner for the No. 1 guy in the country and I was going with him toe-to-toe. I was there to help him out, but I felt I could still compete. For me it was about not looking back 10 years from now saying, why didn’t I do it? Could I have made the team? I know the answer now.”

Back in Iowa City in April, both Hall and Provisor wrestled for their Olympic fate on the same day. Competitors wrestle lowest weight to highest, so Hall would go first. His bid for a fourth Olympic team fell short, but that didn’t stop him from cheering or Provisor from winning.

“Of course I was disappointed, but at the same time I was happy for Ben,” Hall said. “It’s a step in the right direction to winning an Olympic medal. I told Ben four or five years ago, if you don’t have more Olympic and world medals than I have at the end of your career, I’ll be disappointed. You have more potential than what I had. I knew he’d get there, I just didn’t know when or how.”

A wrestling family tragedy

For Provisor, it was always a question of when, not how.

Beyond Hall’s lessons in the mental game of wrestling, Provisor always had the motivation in his heart to make an Olympic team. He said his inner belief has always been strong, and it is fueled by a promise he made back when he was a teenager.

Provisor’s mom Tammy worked with a man named Art Cone at Culver’s in Stevens Point. Provisor also knew Cone through wrestling.

“Our families got very close, and his son was also a wrestler so we got very close,” Provisor said. “He taught me a lot about being a good person and what really matters in life. Things like who I am, what I should be and how to treat people.”

Hall said the wrestling community is unlike a lot of other sports. The same people travel to tournaments together and interact from a young age. It involves parents and kids alike.

The connection between Provisor and Cone was one of those special relationships that went beyond the sport.  But Cone never got to see all that Provisor would turn out to be. He died when Provisor was a senior in high school.

“He was just a special guy to me,” Provisor said. “I wrote a letter to him to put in his casket. It was probably like three pages, but one of those things said, ‘I will be an Olympian and represent this country.’”

As the ref raised Provisor’s arm in victory back in April, two things were clear: Provisor never betrayed that promise and he never forgot Cone.

The tattoo partially covered under Provisor’s London-bound singlet pays tribute to his lost friend. Two passages accompany the cross and angel wings. The words ‘Carpe Diem’ are displayed atop the cross with ‘Rest in peace big papa’ along the bottom.

Although he won’t be there to watch the competition, Provisor made sure Cone would at least be part of the journey.

London-bound

It’s been years since his promise to Cone and the Olympic declaration to his teammates, but Provisor said he doesn’t feel any different now that the dream is reality.

“I don’t think anything has changed yet [since qualifying],” Provisor said. “When I get to the Opening Ceremonies, I’m going to understand that it’s real. Right now, I’m just focused on training and making sure I’m 100 percent for my competition.”

For Provisor, that means doing anything and everything to make sure he doesn’t burn out in the opening rounds.

“My cardio is really good right now and I’ve been going to yoga to keep my body flexible,” Provisor said. “I’ve been trying to work on wrestling on my feet to score so I don’t have to go into the up-and-down position. I’ve just been trying to make every little thing a bit better. I know I’m not going to make everything perfect. I’m just trying to make everything I’m good at now as good as possible.”

He’s also been pouring over a booklet of notes on each wrestler in his 74 kg weight class. For over a month, Provisor has been studying the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of his opponents from all positions to prepare.

Provisor won’t know the exact opponent he’ll face until the day of weigh-ins. Until then, he and his mentor have a lot to talk about.

Although Hall hasn’t been in Colorado Springs over the past two years, he is coming to support Provisor in London along with a group 20-25 people.

Provisor’s mom Tammy said a strong supporting class from Stevens Point has been one of Ben’s driving forces since the beginning.

“I knew Ben was capable of winning. He just had to believe he could,” Tammy Provisor said. “We had 82 people from Stevens Point come [to qualifying], and I think that loyalty and love really inspired him. It just happened that day for him. He wrestled the best he’s ever wrestled—even his coach [Hall] said that. You have to have something going for you that day and he just did it.”

Since Provisor qualified in April, Hall has been giving advice about the competitive atmosphere in London.

“I said, ‘Ben you’ve got to understand the Olympic stage is different than a tournament in January,” Hall said. “In a tournament in January, guys are just wrestling to wrestle. When you get to the Olympic Games, you’ve got to expect a guy is willing to do almost anything to win an Olympic gold medal.’”

Getting out-willed doesn’t happen often to Provisor, and he doesn’t expect that to change. But through all his goal cards and promises that got him to this point, Provisor said he will be OK with just himself on the mat in London.

“I want to wrestle as hard as I can every single day [that I compete],” he said. “If I’m prepared the way I am now, I will have no regrets. I’m going to be calm and wrestle to my full potential. Hopefully I bring home a medal for the U.S.A. That’s the goal. Then I can start a long career in the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling.”

Conor Hockett is a junior journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Conor and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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Justin Lester – USA Wrestling

Trice chases Olympic dreams around the world

By Charlie Akers | BSU at the Games

A two-time NCAA All-American, Central Michigan’s Jarod Trice has dreamed of winning gold at the Olympic Games since an early age.

Jarod Trice

Jarod Trice | Photo courtesy: CMU Athletics Communications

The dream started as a young child when he was just starting to wrestle.

Now he has matured into a 265-pound wrecking ball on the mats. He owns a 79-22 record in college, including a 14-1 mark against foes from the Mid-American Conference.

Throughout his high-school days in Highland Park, Mich., Trice totaled a career record of 163-15. His early success catapulted him to the Junior Olympics—and winning gold there—is where he started the dream of winning the Olympic gold.

“After I won Junior Olympic gold, I wanted to be an Olympian one day,” Trice said.

Trice took another step toward his Olympic dream in April with a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The finish fell just short of his goal of making the Olympic team in 2012.  As a result, Trice will return to Central Michigan for his final season of eligibility this fall.

“I felt like I did some of my best wrestling there,” Trice said about the Olympic Trials in Iowa City.  “I am going to keep training, focus on my senior season and be ready for the Olympic Trials in four years.”

The fourth-place finish at the trials only adds to his determination for 2016.  Trice also looks to at least two sources of motivation.

“The people who have influenced me the most have been my mother and my grandmother,” said Trice, whose grandmother passed before his first tournament as a senior in high school. “She keeps me going, man.”

Trice also noted the passing of the man who got him started in sports at a young age and always kept him motivated—James Pollard, Jr.

“I lost James my freshman year in college and he was pretty much the one that kept me into sports,” Trice said.  “He is the one who got me into wrestling. He is the main guy who kept me motivated as I was growing up.”

Knowing those two would be proud of his path, Trice trained all over the world to prepare himself for the Olympic Trials. He started to mainly focus and train specifically for the Olympic Games in April 2011.

“The transition from college to Olympic freestyle is not so big,” Trice said. “It’s pretty much the same thing, but it’s much more on my feet though.”

In 2011-12, Trice took a redshirt year from NCAA competition to train for the Games. He traveled—and trained with the sport’s best—all over the world, including in Russia, Cuba and Vancouver.

“The best have gone and trained in these places, so I wanted to also go there and get better with the best,” Trice said. “I’m just eating it all up. I have to bring my best.”

When he returned to the United States earlier this year to finish training, Trice worked with fellow Olympic qualifier Trevel Dlagnev.

Dlganev, America’s No. 1-ranked heavyweight, won the 120-kilogram weight class at the trials and advanced to the London Games in July.

“Training with those guys has been great,” Trice said. “The 120-kilogram class is probably the most respected weight class because of all the guys. It’s a pretty stacked weight class.”

And one in which Trice is determined to be included for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I took this whole year off of school for this,” Trice said. “The experience that I’ve had this year has been great.  I’m going to keep competing. I’m going to go for the next three world championships. I’m also going to go for the Olympic Championships in the next four years.”

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.