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Wrestler and coach Donny Pritzlaff works hard for his dreams

In recent years, Donny Pritzlaff, a U.S. freestyle wrestler who competes at 74 kg/163 lbs., has changed the way he looks at wrestling.

The change, he said was in his mentality towards winning.

"I am more committed to follow my coach's plan and really focus on what I need to do to compete," said Pritzlaff, a member of the New York AC. "I started thinking 'why shouldn't this be me winning the tournaments?'"

He is working up to becoming the World and Olympic champion. Last year, Pritzlaff placed third in the World Championships and second in the Pan American Championships. In his previous years of competition, he placed in the top six of the tournaments he participated in. He made his first World Team in 2006.

Pritzlaff also says more experience in international tournaments has helped him better his game. He has spent more time training and focusing on competitions. By spending more time with Kevin Jackson, USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach, and being even more committed to training, Pritzlaff said he will be ready for upcoming tournaments.

"Donny has come a long ways from when he started," said Jackson. "He's a machine. No one trains harder and he does it without complaining. He has continued success and is committed. Donny understands what it takes to be successful."

Pritzlaff's family also recognizes what it takes to be a winner.

Family has been important in Pritzlaff's life. He has wrestled with his cousins, Glenn Pritzlaff and Od Pritzlaff since they were young. Glenn was an NCAA champion at Penn State.

"My family has always been supportive of my career," said Pritzlaff. "My wife is very understanding and she is behind me 100 percent. She knows what it takes to be the best."

Pritzlaff and his wife, Robin, are expecting their first child in June. They are not yet sure of the gender of the baby, but Pritzlaff has goals in mind for his child.

"If it is a girl, she will probably be a dancer. If it is a boy, he might wrestle, but he doesn't have to," said Pritzlaff.

Other than wrestling, Donny Pritzlaff said he doesn't have many hobbies.

"I spend time with my wife, and I eat a lot. I like food," he quipped. "That is how I determine if a vacation is good; if the food is good."

Pritzlaff can't see himself doing anything but wrestling.

"My dad was a carpenter and I thought about maybe doing that, but once I got to college I knew I wanted to wrestle," said Pritzlaff. "With the higher level in college and when I started having success, I knew I wanted to be an Olympic champion."

In addition to competing, Pritzlaff helps others who are living their dreams by coaching at the collegiate level. His first coaching job was an assistant coach at University of Wisconsin, and then spent three years with Hofstra University after graduating college. Currently, he is an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin. Pritzlaff said he is most passionate about coaching at Wisconsin because he wrestled there himself. He won two NCAA titles at Wisconsin.

"I enjoy coaching a lot. We have a lot of great guys," he said.

Pritzlaff looks to former college coach Sean Bormet for inspiration. Bormet was Pritzlaff's coach at the University of Wisconsin for the wrestler's first two seasons. Pritzlaff said Bormet has always been close to him on and off the mat.

Bormet, who runs the Overtime School of Wrestling in Naperville, Ill., still coaches Pritzlaff in freestyle.

"He is a great coach and a great motivator," said Pritzlaff. "He always would find new ways to push me. You trust him because he has the best intentions for everyone."

The philosophy Pritzlaff uses as a coach is similar to what he is being coached.

"We are being coached by the best in the world and I want to teach them what the coaches teach us," he said. "We train to be the best in the U.S. That is our goal at the University of Wisconsin."

Tony Black, a teammate of Priztlaff's and a wrestler under Pritzlaff, said he is the hardest working person he has been around. Black was an All-American at the University of Wisconsin.

"Donny told a story at the senior banquet and talked about watching his dad working hard at his business," said Black. "Donny knows no other way than to work hard and he had a great role model in his dad."

In 2008, Pritzlaff said he is considering putting a stop to his competitive career, but wants to keep coaching.

"I like the competitiveness of being around the younger guys," said Pritzlaff. "They are all committed to the team and all want to be the best. I want to help them get to that point and have that feeling that I've had."
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