Thoughts on Wrestling, Business, and Life

Guitar Hero

October 1st, 2007

Over the weekend my wife, my dogs, and I all went to Alamosa for my wife’s step grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. We left on Friday night and the party was on Saturday. Whenever we travel with our three dogs, it is always an adventure after we get on the road. One of the reasons that these trips are such an adventure because, without a doubt, one of our little maltese, Newton, will get car sick and throw up on me. I don’t really know why he gets car sick, perhaps I am a poor driver, but he almost always gets sick and throws up on me. For some reason he always ends up yacking on me. I don’t think he has ever puked on my wife, which is a good thing because she has a weak stomach when it comes to canine barf. Anyway Newton stayed consistent on this trip and a little more than half way through the trip I felt something warm on my leg. Newton had thrown up on my leg again! Like I said before I have experience with this situation so I did what I always do. I cleaned myself up, and he went back to sleep on my lap. We finally arrived in Alamosa, got some food, and went to bed.
The next day we went over to Sarah’s dad’s house to get ready for the party. My wife was doing somebody’s hair that morning and there was a lot to get together for the party. I didn’t really do much. I moved some stuff and put up decorations when asked, but my mother-in-law and the other girls helping out had their vision of what they wanted everything to look like so I tried to stay out of their way. They really did a great job with decorating and setting everything up. There were a bunch of people that showed up for the party, and it was a really good time. I loved the food. We had some barbeque beef brisket, potatoes, beans, and there was also a chocolate fondue fountain. I love to eat, and I loved the party.
After the party I went with one of my brother’s in-law, Loren, to go hang out at his house for awhile until my wife was done giving her beauticontrol spa at her cousin’s house. We went over to his house, and played Guitar Hero on his playstation. This weekend was the first time that I had ever played this game. I had seen the commercials, and I thought that it looked like a lot of fun, but I had never played it. However, I do play the guitar so I thought that I wouldn’t have any trouble playing Guitar Hero. I was so wrong! I was trying hard, but I kept missing the notes. It was good though because we all had a good laugh, and I had fun playing. I think that I will just stick to playing the guitar instead. I have more fun with that.
Anyway the next morning was Sunday. Church didn’t start until one o’clock in the afternoon so I spent some time with my in laws at Sarah’s mom’s house, where we usually stay when we go to Alamosa. They have an extra apartment style setup upstairs and it is nice. I think that our dogs like running around outside in the country too. Alamosa isn’t a big town so things are pretty spread out. Anyway that morning I went with my father in law and one of my brother’s in law and two of his sons to go look at Gary’s alfalfa field. They just had a cut recently and we went to go see if it was dry. It was close but not ready for raking or bailing yet. I really don’t know what was the next step in the process because I don’t know anything about hay farming. It was a nice trip and an even better day. There was plenty of sun and not many clouds.
After our trek to the alfalfa fields we went back to the house to get ready for church. We went to church and heard some good lessons. While I was there Sarah introduced me to a marathon runner from Fiji. He told me about his competitive athletic days. He was the best marathoner in Fiji, but they took another guy to the Olympics who was actually slower than he was due to politics. It was nice to meet him.
After church was over we ran some errands and headed back home to Colorado Springs. It was a nice trip home, and for the most part uneventful. Newton didn’t even throw up on me. What a good dog. Anyway it was nice to be home. However, today Sarah and I are getting ready to go to Utah for a month because I am going to be helping out with the wrestling program at UVSC. We still have a lot of loose ends to tie up here before we get on the road so I hope that we can get it all done so we can leave at a decent hour. Speaking of that I better get to work on that. Take

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World Champions

September 23rd, 2007

I made it home from Baku, and even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, I am glad to say that I am part of a world championship team. Everybody wrestled their hearts out at the championships, and certain individuals pulled through when it mattered most. Brad Vering, a fellow former Husker, had a great tournament, and Dremiel Byers showed great leadership as he pulled through with a bronze medal on the final day of competition to help put us over the top to win. Harry Lester also did a great job again winning his second senior world medal.
It was definitely exciting and tense as the competition came down to the very last match of the night for greco roman wrestling. The Russian and Cuban heavyweights were wrestling for the gold in their weight class, and it was a rematch from last years final. We were actually in a similar situation last year as a team, if the cuban won we would have ended up second, but the russian won and we ended up third. This year we needed the cuban to win for our team to win the championship. Last year it was clear to see that the russians bought off the cuban in the finals. I know some of you reading this might be surprised to find out that some matches at the world level are paid for. It is a sad but true reality of the sport. Not everyone is for sale, but there are certain countries who are. We were all nervous as the final bout was underway because we were unsure whether or not the cuban would throw the match again. As the match unfolded it seemed like the cuban meant business, but it wasn’t until the final seconds and the cuban had won that we let ourselves celebrate. It was such an exciting time. Everybody on our team was cheering and hugging each other. It was such a great moment for everyone that was a part of that team. There have been so many people that have worked so hard and so long to make this happen for the US team. In fact, in years past the US was kind of seen like the whipping boy of international greco roman wrestling. We have always had good athletes, but there was a lack of opportunities to compete and train with international competitors. I am very grateful for all of the giants who came before us of whom we stand on their shoulders.
Winning the team world championship also helped to take the edge off not winning an individual medal this year. I have put in so much hard work this last year in preparation for this tournament that losing was so painful. I know that dissapointment is a part of life, but still dealing with it is never enjoyable. I was totally crushed. I felt so ready. I felt like I had prepared so well, however, I came up short. It still hurts, but I am looking forward to redeeming myself throughout the year and striking gold at the olympic games next summer. I learned some valuable lessons from this tournament, and I am ready and willing to go back to the drawing board and work to make sure this doesn’t happen to me again.
I want to thank everybody who has helped me to get where I am at. Also I want to thank everyone that is helping me to live my dream right now. Thank you so much for your support and confidence. I hope everyone is happy and well.

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Day Before Weigh ins

September 16th, 2007

Today is the day before weigh ins and for the most part has been uneventful. I have been hanging out around the hotel relaxing and waiting for tomorrow and the next day to come. I am glad that I finally got some internet access today. Some of the guys that are here on the trip brought their computers from NMU so I am using one of them now to write this post. The hotel has wireless internet, but when everybody tries to get on the network at the same time things slow down a lot. I am getting ready to head over to the sauna in about a half an hour. My weight is pretty good. Right now I am sitting around three kilos over. I feel good, and I will feel even better tomorrow after weigh ins.
Yesterday was a good day. I had a light workout in the morning and relaxed in the hotel for awhile. Later in the afternoon I went walking around downtown with a couple of the guys to pass some time. We didn’t really see anything new. It was more crowded with it being the weekend. I bought a pair of sunglasses for five bucks. One of the things that I like about these trips is that people that are selling things are willing to wheel and deal a little bit on the price. It is pretty funny to see some of the strategies that work to get the price that you want. You ask how much and they tell you. Then you tell them the price that you want. It goes back and forth for awhile, but they try to sell it to you for more than you want to pay for it. Usually if you act like you aren’t interested anymore and start to walk away from the deal they will usually give you the price that you want. I only wanted to spend five bucks on glasses and that is what I paid. I was happy with that.
On our way back to the hotel from downtown we found a steakhouse that Willie Madison had seen earlier in the week and wanted to eat there. We went there for dinner, and it was very good and reasonably priced as well. Willie was getting a little upset because the waitresses kept staring at him while we were eating. In a lot of these eastern european countries there aren’t many black people. I am sure that it gets uncomfortable after awhile because everyone always stops and stares at them. Willie finally got up and asked this waitress to dance with him in the middle of the restaurant. He got her pretty good because her face turned beet red and she went into the back of the restaurant. It was pretty funny.
I guess I should go get ready for that sauna now. I hope that everyone is doing well. Take care.

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Crazy Bus Driving

September 14th, 2007

Yesterday I saw one of the greatest bus driving performances that I think that I have seen. In the afternoon, the team was going to the Radisson Hotel to use the sauna and workout facilities there. Traffic was really bad, and I think that the driver was unfamiliar with the area. In order to get to the hotel we had to take some small one way streets as well as some small alleys. There were several turns that I thought would end up with the bus smashing the cars that were parked along the street. There was one turn that the bus couldn’t make it on its own. Some of the guys got out of the bus and moved one of the cars that was in the way. They actually moved it really easily. I thought that it would have taken a lot more effort for them to move the. I was very impressed.
Some of the trips here have taken so long because of the traffic. The other day, apparently one of the driver’s friends needed a ride so he gave him one. It ended up costing us another hour on a hot bus with a bunch of smelly sweaty guys. It made for a good story though after we got back to the hotel.
Today has been pretty relaxed. We had a work out this morning at the competition site. Everything is starting to get a little more crowded now that the other teams and delegations are starting to show up. The mats were pretty busy this morning, and I can only imagine that more and more people will continue to show up. We managed to claim one of the mats this morning and our team got in a good work out. Everyone at this point is on a needs based practice schedule. Every athlete pretty much decides what we he wants to do and does it for that practice. As the tournament gets closer everybody is mostly just focusing on getting their weight down and feeling well. There are a few more days until we weigh in so the excitement is starting to build up a little more and more everyday.
Tonight we are headed back to the place where we went to sauna the other day with the massage. I didn’t really get a massage, it was more like a scrub with a brillo pad, but I am hoping that this time I do get a nice massage because everybody else got one last time. I guess that I will just have to wait and see. It was a nice place so I am looking forward to going there.
Well that is it for today. I will write a little more in a day or two. Take care.

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Baku Post 2

September 12th, 2007

We have been in Baku a couple of days now, and so far it has been a pretty good one. It is pretty hot here during the day, but fortunately for us we have some great air conditioning in our hotel rooms. We were out in the heat today as we traveled through the downtown area. Brad Vering, Coach Fraser, Coach Antonelli, and myself all spent some time looking at the shops and stores downtown. We ate at one of the local restaurants, and I was pretty impressed with the food. I had some great lamb kebap and a nice crepe and icecream desert.
The reason we were walking around downtown today is because we have the day off from training. At this point in time we are really just resting a lot to get ready for the tournament. The last couple of days we wrestled a match in the morning and then hit the sauna in the afternoon. One of the days we went to a sauna that had dry saunas, turkish saunas, and steam rooms. It was a really nice facility, and I felt good when I was finished. I thought that I was going to get a massage, but it ended up being this guy scrubbing me down with some kind of rough rag. The whole time that he did it I was thinking, “It will be okay because I will get a nice relaxing massage soon.” That time never came and I ended up itching the rest of the night. At least I know now never to do that again. Yesterday we went to a sauna at the Radisson hotel here in town. It was a very nice facility as well, and I am glad that we went. They had treadmills, weights, a swimming pool, and a sauna. I got a little run in and a couple sets with some dumbells. After that, I relaxed in the sauna and the pool.
I know that sometimes these posts are a little sporadic, but I forget to write about things from time to time. For example, I forgot to write about our little trip to the beach today after lunch downtown.  We hired a taxi to drive us down to the beach. We didn’t get in the water or anything like that. Jay said that Baku’s port in the caspian sea is the most ecologically damaged one in the world. The scary part about that is that the water actually looked pretty clean and clear. As we drove to the beach we passed numerous oil wells. There were pumps all over the place right next to the sea that were just pumping away. There are also huge oil tankers here as well as bunch of other cargo ships. It was really interesting to see that so up close and personal. The traffic was a lot better today on our trip than it was yesterday. Yesterday we must have spent at least four hours on a bus and in a van just to get to and from practice. It was a real nightmare. The coaches are looking into ways to make things more convenient for us though when it is time to weigh in and wrestle. The facilities aren’t even that far away, but the traffic is horrendous. It is the maybe the worst traffic that I have seen in the world. One way streets somehow turned into two way streets, and drivers don’t even recognize the white lines on the road as being any type of guideline. During rush hour it is absolute craziness. We saw several people and police officers get out of their vehicles to scream at each other about their poor driving. It was unreal. I wish that I would have had a video camera with me at the time to get a glimpse of it to share with .everyone.
I am feeling great right now. I have been sleeping through the night very well for the last two nights, and I feel like I am getting well adjusted to the time zone here. I still find myself getting a little tired and cranky in the afternoons, but I am getting better and better about that everyday. The time here has been going by pretty fast. I am looking forward to when we weigh in on Monday and finally get to wrestle on Tuesday. The freestyle team got here the other night so they are here with us in the same hotel. I haven’t seen any other teams get here yet other than Moldova’s freestyle team. I am sure that these next couple of days though that things will start to get a little crazy around here with the other teams showing up. That is usually the way things go.
I hope everyone back home is doing well and having a good time doing whatever you are doing. Take care

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Baku, Azerbaijan

September 9th, 2007

The trip to Azerbaijan was a long one. The team left Thursday afternoon, and we arrived on Saturday early in the morning. We flew from Denver to Chicago, and from Chicago to London. When we got to London we had a nine hour layover that we took advantage of by going out into the city to see some sights.
London is a great city. There are a lot of historical architecture there and also a lot of tradition. This visit to London was my first one. I have passed through the airport many times, but this was the first time that I made it out into the city. We started off our journey in the city by trying to find Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. Dan was going to be fighting in the UFC, and Matt was there to corner him. We went to their hotel, but they weren’t there. After that we went and saw the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham palace. After all of that walking around, by the time we got back to the airport I was exhausted. I had no trouble sleeping on the next five hour flight to Baku, Azerbaijan.
We got into Azerbaijan around 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning. Baku is a pretty interesting city. There are a lot of countries from the former Soviet Union that are pretty run down. They are progressing, but slowly. Here in Baku there seems to be a lot of new construction so there is a mix of old Soviet buildings and some new and impressive structures. The hotel where we are staying at is a mix of the two. There are some floors that are very nice with marble tile and beautiful chandeliers, and there are other floors that look like the seventies would like to call them back. Our team is staying on the thirteenth floor, and our floor is one that looks like it is out of the seventies. The carpet is old and worn, and rooms looked like they were finished with just enough effort to get the job done. They were going for functionality here and not aesthetics.
I am used to staying in places like this so it is no let down to me. I am just happy that the food is pretty good here. Their breakfast is typical of other european fare including bread cold cuts, and some vegetables. They also have plenty of juices and cereals here too. Lunch and Dinner are usually rice with some type of stewed meat and vegetables. The dishes seem pretty nutritious, and they are also appetizing. I am very happy about that. I think that I have come to judge a lot of these trips on whether or not the food is good. It is funny how something like that can influence my view of a trip so much.
My sleeping schedule is still off a little bit. I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. I have been trying to stay strong during the day, but I have been napping the last two days. I have been so exhausted, but I know that in a couple of more days I will feel great. We still have another week before we weigh in and wrestle so there is still time to prepare for the competition. I think that after tonight I should be on track as far as sleeping. The big challenge is to just hold out during the day and not to nap.

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Getting Ready For The World

September 4th, 2007

Today is Tuesday and I leave on Thursday so I am starting to get everything together for the trip. It is a very exciting time of year right now because this upcoming trip is for the world championships held in Baku, Azerbaijan. I am so excited to wrestle in this tournament and compete again. I don’t remember when I have anticipated a wrestling tournament so much. I think that it is going to be a lot of fun.
We just finished training camp last Friday. They really put us through the ringer on that one. We were wrestling live twice a day everyday for the most part. They gave us some good rest days, but the training was definitely intense. I am glad that it is over now, but I think it was just what we needed to put some finishing touches on our conditioning and readiness. The whole team looks good right now. We are all looking to have a huge year this year.
Yesterday as you know was labor day. I think it is funny that nobody works on labor day. You would think that by it’s name everyone would work extra hard that day. I suppose that is one of life’s little ironies. Sarah and I went to a church barbeque yesterday and had a great time. We took two of our dogs, Newton and Mozart. They behaved pretty well at the start, but as the day wore on they started to bark at some other dogs incessantly.  Sarah took them home, and she made it back in time for the water fight that took place. She didn’t really participate much, but my friend Justin Ulrich and I had a great time. We nailed quite a few kids with some waterballoons. I got drenched myself though so I don’t know if I ended up winning or not. Either way it was a great time.
Please be patient as I get some more things together for the site. I know that I said that I would post some pictures and video on the blog, and I will. It might have to wait until I get back from Azerbaijan. Take care everyone.

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Wednesday August 29th

August 29th, 2007
It has been awhile since I have posted last. The last two weeks we have had some great training here in Colorado Springs. This week we have the national team in town getting the world team ready to compete in Azerbaijan. We leave next Thursday to travel to Baku and then I think that competition starts on the 17th. The competition is going to be divided up throughout three days. On the first day 55, 60, and 66 kg compete, and on the second day 74, 84, and 96kg compete, and finally 120kg competes on the third day. I am really looking forward to competing in this tournament. I have been working to tweak things here and there that I think will help me to win another medal this year. Today we have the day off from practice so I am doing what I can to recover and feel better. I am healthy and ready to go.
As you have noticed we are still updating some things on the site. We are trying to get the store up and running so that you can buy t-shirts and other gear if you are interested. Keep checking back for new updates. I am putting some emails together to be sent out on the autoresponder so feel free to sign up for those. I am also working on uploading some pictures and video on the blog so please be patient. Thanks.

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Romania Day 8 I Think

August 12th, 2007
Well it has been a couple of days since I have had some time to update this. Yesterday I weighed in. I didn’t have any real troubles making weight. The night before weigh ins I was 4.5 kilos overweight, but somehow I mananged to sleep off 3.3 kilos and only had to lose a couple of pounds on the day of weigh ins. I went for a little run and then sat in the sauna for a little bit. After weigh ins I went and watched the other wrestlers compete. For the afternoon session Brad Vering was the only left in the first group that was still wrestling. I watched him wrestle and beat the hungarian wrestler for third. He looked pretty good. He lost a close one to Georgia earlier in the day. I heard that the other guys lost of close of tight ones too.
This morning I wrestled the Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, and another Hungarian. I won my first two and then lost my third match. I was pretty happy with how I wrestled for the most part, except I jumped twice in two periods and got cautioned twice and lost four points that way. It ended up costing me the match. I ended up coming back though and winning my bronze medal match. It was a tough tournament. There were a lot of good wrestlers here and it was a fun tournament to watch. I have some pictures that I will post when I get home. In answer to BJ’s question, no I didn’t get a picture of the bear. However, I did get a picture of a guy in my weight class that looks a lot like my brother in law. I will have you notice the t-shirt that I am wearing in that one. It is one that I got from Wright Wrestling Camps.
After the tournament we ate, showered, and then jumped on a bus to Bucharest. We fly out early tomorrow morning. We leave the hotel here in Bucharest at 4 a.m. Joe  Betterman is being kind enough to lend me his computer for a few minutes so that I can write this post. It is funny how anxious I get to go home after the wrestling is over. I would have loved to jump on a plane right after the wrestling tournament got over. I think that tomorrow we fly to Amsterdam and then Minneapolis. If we have a long stop over in Amsterdam, I will try and get out to take some pictures of the city while I am there. I have been there a couple of times before, but I don’t have many pictures.
Anyway the trip overall has been a lot of fun. I feel well prepared for the world championships coming up here next month. I am having more fun wrestling now than I have in a long time, and that is something that I am very excited about. I wish everybody else good luck in all of your endeavors, and I hope that you are all well. Thanks for following me on this trip.

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Romania Day 6

August 10th, 2007
Last night was an interesting one. For the most part the routine didn’t vary too much from what it has been. I sat in the sauna for awhile in the afternoon. To fill you in on what the saunas are like here, I might need to explain them a little bit. A lot of times wrestlers will sit in the sauna for a couple of reasons. One reason is to relax, stretch and recover. Another reason is to lose water weight before it is time to weigh in. Basically a sauna is a wooden room with wooden benches with a heating element located somewhere in the sauna. The heating element usually will have rocks on top of it to keep some of the heat in the room. Generally water is thrown on these hot rocks to create steam in the room and increase the overall temperature. This makes it easier to sit and sweat in the sauna. I will usually stay in the sauna for about five to fifteen minutes at a time depending on how hot the sauna is and also depending on how heavy I am. Outside of the saunas there will usually be showers that you can jump into after you get out of the sauna. I like to jump out of the sauna and rinse off with a cold shower and sit out of the sauna for a few minutes to cool down a little bit and get ready for another sauna go. Sometimes there will be small pools filled with cold water known as a coldplunge that people can jump into to cool off and relax. The sauna here is a good one. It gets hot enough to break a good sweat and keep it rolling. All over Europe there are many bath houses that have a variety of hot and cold pools as well as steam rooms and saunas. They are very popular here, but they are not so popular in the United States. I just wanted to fill everybody in on what the saunas are like here.
Anyway I still haven’t gotten to the interesting part of last night, and it might be another paragraph until I do get to that part so just bear with me. After I was finished with the sauna I went to get some pizza for dinner with Harry Lester, a wrestler who trains up at Northern Michigan and wrestles 66kg for the US. The pizza was really good which is a rarity over here at times. I thought that I was hungrier than I really was. I ordered two pizzas which ended up being too much food so I had to box some of it up. I know it sounds strange that a wrestler would be eating pizza this close to weighins, I weigh in tomorrow, but yesterday was my birthday so I wanted to celebrate a little bit.

Well now I will get to the part of the night that I thought was interesting. It was kind of hot in my hotel room so I went to bed with the window open to cool things off a little bit. In the middle of the night I heard a loud banging outside. I didn’t have any idea of what it was, but to me it sounded like horses were being loaded in a trailer. This banging continue for awhile, and I was starting to get a little impatient. It was three in the morning, and I wanted my sleep. All of a sudden I heard a bunch of dogs barking outside so I got up to go see what all of the ruckus was. There were about fifteen dogs outside that had seemingly come from everywhere and they were all barking at a dumpster outside that was located next to the hotel. At first I couldn’t see what it was, but then I saw an extremely large black bear outside of the dumpster. He didn’t seem to mind the dogs too much at first and jumped back into the dumpster. It was actually kind of funny because when he got into the dumpster it spilled over with him in it. After awhile the dogs kept coming and advancing closer to the bear. A couple of times it looked like some of the dogs were actually going to attack the bear, but they would come with in a couple of feet and then retreat. However, after a couple of minutes the dogs accomplished their goal of scaring the bear away. The bear had decided that he had enough and rumbled back into the woods. This is the second year that I have been on this trip, but it is the first time that I have really seen any wildlife. We are pretty high up in the mountains, but I haven’t seen any squirrels, rabbits, deer, or many other animals for that matter. However, last night I did see a bear, and I thought that was pretty interesting.

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