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|SCHULTZ MEMORIAL NOTES: Frayer continues World wrestling tour; Sieracki brothers still seeking side-by-side titles|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Frayer continues world tour in grueling Schultz performance
Jared Frayer of the Gator WC has been very busy competing in freestyle wrestling. The U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete, who is ranked No. 2 on Freestyle Team USA at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. has been on a world tour lately, pursuing international wrestling matches.
Before entering this weekend's Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs, Frayer has been to Iran, Russia and Chicago, Ill. within the last few weeks. Rather than take a rest, which some wrestlers might after such grueling travel schedule. Frayer entered the Schultz event looking for even more competition.
Frayer competed in the Takhti Cup in Bandar Abbas, Iran, then flew to Siberia to compete in the Ivan Yarygin Tournament in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Along with the U.S. team, he competed in a dual meet in Nalchik, Russia. Upon his return, Frayer joined the U.S. freestyle team that competed against Russia at the Chicago Cup in Chicago, Ill. on Tuesday.
Frayer won his opening match yesterday, then lost a close battle in the second round to 2005 University World champion Jesse Jantzen of the New York AC, 1-0, 1-0. Rather than drop out, like some athletes do after losing in the championship bracket, Frayer continued on, trying to wrestle back for the bronze.
He won his first two consolation bouts by pin, decking unattached Ellis Dantis and Chris Harada of Canada. He then beat Yokoyama Futoshi of Japan, 5-0, 3-2, then Eric Larkin of the Sunkist Kids, 0-1, 2-0, 2-0 and Zack Esposito of the Gator WC, 6-0, 3-0.
By the time Frayer finished his bronze medal match, a loss to Korea's Jin-Kuk Baek placed him fourth, he had wrestled eight times during the day.
"I lost my second match to Jantzen," said the battered Frayer at day's end. "I felt better the rest of the day. I have a long history with Jantzen. We have wrestled a lot. He knows my tricks."
Frayer had ice bags on some sore areas, but looked back at a satisfying day, in spite of missing out on a medal.
"I hit the wall a little with the last match (against Baek)," he said. "I wasn't tired. I lost my legs. I was dead-legged. Maybe all the travel hit me. I felt I wrestled well. Some of the things I did wrong in Iran and Russia I was able to correct here."
Frayer looks back at his last few weeks, and shakes his head a little about the craziness of the schedule and the thousands of miles he logged pursuing his wrestling dream. Never before had he strung so many wrestling events back-to-back-to-back-to back. Frayer realizes this grueling challenge will pay off later in the year when he competes at the U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials.
"This is why I came to the U.S. Olympic Training Center," said Frayer. "I made the decision to move out here. I was coaching full-time at a big-time Div. I level (at Harvard). I told Coach (Terry) Brands that I wanted to come out here and wrestle as much as I can. I wrestle better the more I wrestle. I am fixing a lot of mistakes I made in the past. I am here to work with Brands every day. I am taking baby steps. Come to the end of 2007 and in 2008, this will make me a champion."
Frayer can take pride in how he handled this challenge, and is pleased with his decision to overload his competition schedule this winter.
"I have seen places I've never seen, and wrestled against the world's best guys," he said. "I have to admit it got a little ridiculous at times. But this is what I love doing. I love this sport. I am not making any money being a wrestler. But I get supported to travel and wrestle. I'm enjoying every bit of it. I am better, as a wrestler and a person, and I am stronger mentally and physically."
Sieracki brothers still seeking to win side-by-side again
The Sieracki brothers from the U.S. Army both competed Friday at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, looking to win gold medals in different weight classes. Keith Sieracki competes at 163 pounds and younger brother Aaron wrestles at 185 pounds in Greco-Roman.
Keith was a Dave Schultz Memorial International champion in 2001 and 2002, and Aaron was a runner-up in 2003 and 2006. This year, their quest to win golds on the same day fell short, with Keith placing fourth and Aaron dropping out by injury default after a semifinal loss.
Winning tournaments side-by-side is something that is a goal for the Sierackis, with the ultimate goal being able to make a U.S. World Team or the Olympic Team at the same time.
The brothers remember only one time in their lives when they were champions of the same tournament. When Keith was a high school senior at 145 pounds and Aaron was a freshman at 103 pounds, both won Wisconsin state high school titles. Keith jokes that Aaron "stole his thunder" with his victory. Since then, both brothers have won a lot of wrestling titles, but not at the same tournaments.
Keith Sieracki has competed in the World Championships for the United States twice. Aaron has not made a U.S. team, but came his closest last year, by placing second at the World Team Trials, losing to Jake Clark in the championship finals. Both enter this year with the same goal, to stand on the podium together when it truly counts.
Keith opened with victories over Tobias Kantola of Sweden, 7-0, 3-0 and Bo Yu of China, 2-0, 1-1. In the quarterfinals, he lost to Yongxiang Chang of China, 1-2, 3-0, 3-4. Keith continued to wrestle back, winning three matches in a row over Jake Fisher of the USOEC, Jess Hargrave of the U.S. Army and Yavor Dimitrov Yankiev of Bulgaria. He ended his long day by losing in the bruising bronze-medal bout to Tae Kyung Jung of Korea, 0-3, 3-0, 1-1.
"Overall, I felt I had a poor performance my first three matches. After that, something clicked," said Keith. "Even in my loss for the bronze, I wrestled better than during some of my victories."
Aaron won his opening bout by technical fall, 6-0, 6-0 over Emmanuel Gonzalez of Puerto Rico, then beat Gang Wang of China, 6-0, 1-1 in the quarterfinals. His day ended in the semifinals, when he was pinned by Justin Millard of the U.S. Air Force. Aaron chose not to continue in the wrestlebacks due to his health.
"I felt pretty good," said Aaron. "I was a little banged up coming in and wasn't sure if I was going to wrestle. My first day back on the mat was Monday. In the semis, I got caught in a front headlock."
Although neither won a medal, both are upbeat about the performance and the season ahead.
"This is a stepping stone," said Keith of the family performance on Friday. "That is why they have this tournament."
"It is still good," said Aaron. "You take what you can from each match and move forward."
Although they weren't able to win the Dave Schultz Memorial this year, they continue to look ahead towards the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which will be their last chance at making a team together. Both are considering retirement after 2008.
"With all the stuff that happened to me at the last two Olympic Trials, and the fact that Aaron has come back to wrestling after getting out for a few years, I am more motivated than ever to get it done," said Keith. "Hopefully we can get an Olympic medal together."
"I see it happening," said Aaron. "We are both on the right track."