When we last left former U-M standout Andy Hrovat -- the Wolverines' current Director of Wrestling Operations -- he had just completed his winter tour with stops in Iran, Russia and Chicago. Four months later, Hrovat returns to international competition as a member of USA Wrestling'sPan-American Games freestyle team. MGoBlue.com will follow his progress with frequent updates from the road. (The most recent entry is at the top.)
SATURDAY, JULY 28
My competition days was great from the start. I woke up and had a good breakfast with the coaches before heading over to the arena about an hour early for a warm-up. I drilled and went hard with Tommy Rowlands in preparation for my first match, and I felt great after the warm-up. My first match was against a guy from Venezuala, Jesus Gonzalez. This guy had placed second at the last Pan-American championships. I wrestled well and was able to pin him in the second period. After the early win, I was set to face Cuba's Roerlandy Zuniga the semifinals. Cuba is the best competition that we Americans have here at the Games. I was ready for this match and wrestled great. I scored a lot of points and won the match in two straight periods (8-6, 5-0). The only people to beat Cubans at the tournament were me and my roommate, Henry Cejudo.
In the finals, I had Roozbah Banihashemi from Canada, who I had previously beaten by the score of 10-0. But I was not going to take him lightly because I wanted to win bad. I needed to prove to the coaching staff that I can win on the world level before the World Championships. I have to give the Canadian team credit though, because they scouted me and had their athlete wrestle the perfect match to beat me. The match did not go as I would have liked it, but I am not really down on myself about it. He won the first period on a leg clinch, but I came back and won the second period 1-0. In the third, I was winning 3-2 with about 10 seconds left before he tried to throw me. When I tried to counter, he tripped me for a takedown. I lost 3-3 on criteria.
This tournament is just a great learning experience for me. If I do get the chance to go to the Worlds this year, I'm 100-percent confident that I am one of the best and that I can come home with a gold medal when it really counts. Now I get a couple of days off to relax, and then I am off to Colorado Springs for another month of training.
THURSDAY, JULY 26
Well, weight cutting day is finally here. I woke up this morning and weighed myself before grabbing a small breakfast. I love waking up and eating breakfast, because it really gets your metabolism going. When it comes time to sweat your body works much more efficiently. After breakfast I went to the steam room to stretch out and get a little sweat in before the big cut. After that I took a nap and read my book, "The Real All-Americans," which is getting very interesting. It is all about a school for Native Americans back in the early 1900s. The school is called Carlisle, and the story is about their football team that grabbed America's attention for theiroutstanding play.
When the time came for my last weight, I wasn't terribly excited. The sauna at the hotel is probably the hottest sauna that I have ever stepped foot in. When we got there, however, itwas turned off, so we had to sit around for a while and wait for it to heat up. I went in for about 20 minutes then put my sweats on and jumped rope outside with Doug Schwab. We just went back and forth with the rope for a little while before climbing on a stationary bike for the rest of the time. I'd have to say that the best part of the day was finally getting down to weight and jumping in the pool. The water was freezing, but it felt great. After weigh-ins, the team leader took us out to eat at a Brazilian Steak House. This may have been the dinning experience of my life. It was all-you-can-eat steak -- every type of cut you can imagine -- chicken and sushi. I felt daring and ate a chicken heart at one point in the meal. Well, I should stop typing now and get the bed, because I have a gold medal to win in the morning.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 25
Today was a pretty long day. I slept in a little bit before we went over to work out. It was the last wrestling workout before my final weight cut. We drilled and then wrestled a match again, and, just like the day before, my partner was Joe Heskett. I felt really, good and I am excited to wrestle in the tournament. I rushed home from the workout really fast, so I could get back to the Athlete Village and make my massage time. My legs were feeling a little sore from the travel, so I was able to get them worked on. At night we went to the hotel that the USOC delegation is staying to cut weight. The facility was great, and we are planning on going back tomorrow for our final cut.
TUESDAY, JULY 25
The last couple of days have been pretty long. I left my house to work out at 10:30 a.m. Monday morning, and I didn't arrive in Rio until 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. I was able to sleep on both flights the whole time, so I guess it wasn't too bad. Today in Rio, we worked out and wrestled one match. I wrestled Joe Hesket, and I actually felt pretty good after such a long travel day. My weight is not good at all, but I still have two days to get it down. Right now, I have just finished dinner, and I am sitting next to former Michigan runner Lindsay Gallo, who is down here with USA Track and Field.They gave us cell phones to use down here, so it is easy to find all of my friends. The computer room is really nice, but it is really crowded with all of the other athlets. Tonight I have a meeting about some protocol and then we are having a sauna workout. I have been on the move all day, and all I really want to do is go to my room and read the new book I got.
MONDAY, JULY 16
I drilled and wrestled with Ryan Churella today in between sessions of wrestling camp at Oosterbaan Field House, Michigan's indoor football facility. I was a little sore from the lift that Greg [Wagner] and I did yesterday, and I think it showed in my workout. When I was wrestling, I felt that I had no explosion, and my shots were not powerful at all. There was nothing I could do except push throughit and just try to stay mentally fresh. I know that I can't put too much pressure on myself in all of my workouts, because I know I still have a long summer of training ahead of me.
SUNDAY, JULY 15
The last week of Michigan wrestling camp started today, and, during theafternoon registration period, Greg Wagner and I went through a lift. I am not lifting heavy this week, because I want to get my body fresh for the upcoming competition. In the afternoon before the first evening session, I wrestled with [Big Ten champion] Steve Luke. We worked on several positions and wrestled three matches. I really like wrestling Steve because he tends to wrestle like a foreigner. He never gets himself out of posistion, and he is extremely hard to score on.
FRIDAY, JULY 13
Hrovat was a preferred clincian among U-M Wrestling campers.
The USA freestyle wrestling team was in Washington, D.C., with the men's and women's Judo team in prepation for the upcoming Pan-American Games. In the morning, we had a couple of meetings, had to fill out medical forms, took pictures and received our official gear. The team is sponsored by Nike, and they gave us a ton of stuff. The day went very fast, and we all left in the afternoon to fly back to our respective homes. I'm starting to get really excited for the event. You will be able follow my wrestling in Brazil at www.usoc.org.
THURSDAY, JULY 12
Today was an early morning because of the team's travel to Washington, D.C. I could not sleep the night before because I was worried about over-sleeping the team's run up the mountain. Everyone in the van wasn't really happy about the upcoming run, and throughout the whole 20-minute mini-van ride, we told stories about all the times we have made the grueling climb. For as early as it was, I actually felt great, and when we got to the mountain my adrenaline was flowing and I was ready to go. I pushed myself hard up the mountain, and my time was under 40 minutes. It was my personal best, cutting six minutes off my previous best when I ran it with Tyrel [Todd] and Ryan [Churella] before the World Team Trials. I made some bold predictions about running it under 30 minutes, so I have some training to do by the end of August.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11
This is the last day of wrestling before the camp ends tomorrow. In both the morning and afternoon practices, we had individual drill sessions with our coaches. They split us up and made us work on areas that are specific to each wrestler. I have been coming to colorado for many years now, and I know by heart what areas I will be working on. For me as a wrestler, I am always changing but what doesn't change is how to become the best in the world. Coach [Kevin] Jackson preaches the fundamentals, because when you get out there and are wrestling for a world title it is basic moves and defense that wins matches. Perhaps all of this sounds easy. But you can practice it every day and unless you take it to heart and become flawless in your technique, it will be hard to beat the best. I really challenged myself today and lifted again. Unfortunately, I was not thinking and ended up lifting my legs pretty hard. I forgot that before we leave for Washington, D.C. tomorrow to get our gear and credentials, we are going on a morning running up a mountain. So, I'm off to bed now. The van leaves at 6:30 a.m.
TUESDAY, JULY 10
After a long day of working out, the coaches had an easy day set up for us. Well, it really wasn't all that easy, but it was a lot more fun. They wanted us to get into our warm-up routine for the tournament, so they told us to warm-up and be prepared to wrestle in 45 minutes. They then lined up the matches for us. My first match was against Lee Fullhart. I started off a little slugish due to the previous day's lift, but, by the third period, my motor was running and I was able to rack up a lot of points. Wrestling against Lee, you have to be in great shape to beat him, and I now know my conditioning is where it should be.
My second match was Nik Fekete. He is a little big for me, but I toughed through it and tried out a few new things. The afternoon workout was the same warm-up and wrestle. I wrestled Tony Gansen and Ramico Blackman. Both wrestlers are tough to score on, so I had to really concentrate on using my best set-ups and really pull the trigger to get some points. Overall, I think I am in great shape to wrestle in the Pan Ams and the closer it gets the more excited I get.
MONDAY, JULY 9
Hrovat embraces the Red, White and Blue.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
I recently arrived in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center getting ready for the Pan American Games. It will be my first time competing in the Games.I have previously wrestled in the Pan American Championships before but the Games are only wrestled every four year. I arrived to the training center on Tuesday, July 5th, and the camp started the next day.So far, we have just worked on positions and drilling. During the afternoon practice, [USA Wrestling Freestyle Resident Coach] Terry Brands was assigned to put me through my drills.He is a very intense person, and the two of us have been working together since last year to help identify the areas of concentration that I need to work on.
Saturday was a day of matches. In the morning we warmed up for about 10 minutes, drillied for about another 30 before we each wrestled two matches.I wrestled Tony Gansen for my first match, and I wrestled hard and smart.In the second match, I went with Mohammed Lawal, who is quite big right now, so I really needed to concentrate on just keeping good posistion and hitting hard shots.The afternoon practice was a little shorter; we had a quick warm up and went right into the matches.In the afternoon, I wrestled Tom Meester and Tony Gansen.Today was a both mental and physical test for me, becasue I had to see where my conditioning was after taking some time off after the trials.I actually felt better than I expected, andit really feels like I haven't skipped a beat.Well, all for now. I'm heading out to get sushi with both Zadicks, Doug Schwab, Tommy Rowlands and Jared Frayer.