A Look Back at 2012 – Andy Hrovat

A Year in Review

By: Andy Hrovat

 As another year comes to an end, we can all take time to reflect on the great things that have taken place over the last 12 months.  For myself, I have a lot of great memories to reflect on.  I was blessed with the opportunity to wrestle for 26 years of my life, but I am even more blessed to be in the position I am in now.  2012 was my first full year of retirement from the sport, and it was the first year of my coaching career.  I gave everything I had to the sport while I was competing, but it feels great to be able to finally give back.  My high school coach Greg Urbas always said “use the sport, don’t let the sport use you.”  I took every advantage I was given and I made the most of it.  Wrestling is a brutal sport, but if you use the sport for all it is worth it will pay you back with more than money can buy.

 Last December I moved back to Ann Arbor, MI.  I retired after the 2011 world team trials, and the timing could not have been any worse for someone getting into coaching.  I had just spent the better part of a year living and training in Russia, so when I came back to the states I had no place to call home.  I spent the summer in Colorado Springs helping the freestyle team get ready for the 2011 world championships and trying to find a job.  I choose to work at the Overtime School of Wrestling for three months, but when my time there was up I had no plan.  The only place that felt like home was Ann Arbor, MI.  I had lived and trained in Ann Arbor from 1998 until 2009.  There was no job for me in Ann Arbor, but I knew they had just started a regional training center and the Olympic trials were right around the corner.  I made a little money here and there, but my main focus was coaching the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club and getting the guys ready for the trials.

 Transitioning from an athlete to a coach was not very difficult for me.  When I was training I never really committed a lot of time to coaching, so I did not have a very good base to work on.  I knew if I wanted to be the best freestyler I could be, I had to do it full time.  It is hard to commit to being a full time freestyle wrestler here in the United States, since we do not get paid well enough to do so.  I was lucky to receive a lot of support from the Michigan wrestling team, the NYAC, my coaches, and my sponsors.  While I was training, to prepare myself for the future was to be open minded.  I was able to learn from some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, and the best part of it all is that I was able to take something away from each one of them.  So by the time I retired I felt comfortable in my ability to train athletes to become great at what they do.

Even though I moved back to Michigan without having a paying job, I knew it was the best option for me.  I know in due time I will get a good paying job, but this past year was my time to prove I can coach.  The Michigan coaches have a responsibility during the school year to coach the college athletes, so when I arrived in Ann Arbor they let me run the freestyle program.  The Olympic year is always very busy and there is a lot of traveling involved.  The Cliff Keen Wrestling Club became a team through all of our training sessions and worldly travels.  I always say I am a lucky person, but I truly believe that.  My first full time coaching position I was able to coach Jimmy Kennedy, Josh Churella, Andrew Howe, Mike Poeta, Jake Herbert, Tyrel Todd, and part of the time Matt Gentry.  I could not have asked for better people to have coached before the Olympic trials.  I believed every one of these guys had a chance to make the Olympic team.  The reason I believed this is because I was an Olympian myself.  I am not trying to say since I was an Olympian I can make people Olympians, although I do believe I can and eventually will coach people to do great things.  I am saying that if I could do it anyone could do it.  Everyone of these guys has what it takes to be world and Olympic champions we just have to figure out the path to get them there.

 Coaching is a lot different than competing.  When you are competing everything revolves around you.  When you are coaching you have to make sure everyone of the athletes is getting what they need.  You have to help them on and off the mat.  I believed in these guys so much that when they did not all make the Olympic team I was crushed.  I wanted them to make the team as much as they wanted themselves to make the team.  The whole year I was able to sit back and see how much each and every one of them sacrificed just to have the chance to make the team.

 The Cliff Keen Wrestling Club did have Jake Herbert make the Olympic team.  WIth Jake making the team, I was able to spend most of the summer in Colorado Springs helping out with the freestyle team again as they prepared for the Games.  I was not an official coach of the team and I was not able to corner Jake when he wrestled, but I was able to help where I could and I learned a lot in the process.  Right around this time I also started working for Cliff Keen Athletic.  Working for Cliff Keen Athletic is something I never thought I would have done.  I never thought I would do anything but coach wrestling.  Working for them is giving me a ton of experience outside of the wrestling world.  I am able to learn some business acumen which will be very useful when I am running a wrestling program someday.  Everything always seems to work out for me and I am very thankful that it does.

 My life is a whirlwind of traveling and right now I am on my second weekend in a row away from my home.  This is the beginning of a stretch of time where I am going to be away 13 out of 14 weekends.  Some of the weekends are for coaching and some are for working with Cliff Keen Athletic.  WIth January 1st less than a week away, I am excited for what the New Year will bring.  I know I had a fantastic 2012 and I know 2013 will be better.

 I want to wish all of you out there a happy and prosperous New Year!

Grapple at the Garden – Andy Hrovat

Grapple at the Garden

This past weekend I was in New York City for the Grapple in the Garden at Madison Square Garden. When you watch an event for the first time in an atmosphere like I witnessed this past weekend you can recall the events for years to come. I know many of you reading this know what I mean. I can recall with vivid recognition the first time I watched the NCAA tournament. My first NCAA tournament was in my hometown of Cleveland in 1998. I can still see Mitch Clark getting a tech fall to win his title, and Teague Moore winning with a defensive fall. I can go on and on about this tournament, the same can be said for the world championships. The first time I watched the world championships was in 2003 in New York City at Madison SquareGarden. I remember watching my good friend Irbek Farniev win his world title. I jumped up in my seat when Eldar Kurtanidze used an arm spin to win in overtime. I remember sitting in my seat nervous watching Cael Sanderson in a nail biter against Sajid Sajidov. I have the same memories of the Olympics, the time I wrestled on the USS Intrepid for Beat the Streets, and now I can add Grapple in the Garden.

My trip to New York City started out Saturday morning at 5am. Usually I do not like to wake up this early on a Saturday morning, but going to NYC always excites me. The Grapple at theGarden did not start until Sunday, but there was a lot to do in the City before the event. After we landed at Laguardia Airport we went straight to the hotel to check in. The only problem was we arrived too early and our room was not ready for 4-5 hours. We checked our bags at the hotel and went for a walk to grab some breakfast. I took Jim Keen Sr and Chad Clark whom I work with to a nice little diner I have been going to right next to the NYAC. We had a great breakfast and talked about wrestling for a long time. When we finished up chatting we walked back to the hotel so Chad and I could grab some workout gear and headed to the NYAC. By chance we ran into the Iowa Hawkeyes who were also going to the NYAC to get a workout in.The wrestlers and the coaches went to the NYAC wrestling room and Chad and I headed to the pool area so we could use the steam room. Tom and Terry Brands got their team going then came up to join us in the steam. I love spending time with Tom and Terry. Having the opportunity to spend time with them always makes me better at what I do. They are two of the greatest coaches in the country and I love picking their brain. We talked about everything from college wrestling to international wrestling. I probably spent a lot longer in the steam than I wanted to, but when you have to the opportunity to spend time with these guys you get lost in the moment.

After getting out of the steam room I quickly shaved and showered. I wanted to look my best for the social I was attending that evening. The social was at Tiro a Segno, which is the oldest rifle club in the USA. The club was founded in 1888 and Saturday evening it was the host of a party Noel Thompson put on for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. There were many legends in the wrestling world and business world in attendance. Many great leaders in the business world have wrestled in their lives and they know the value wrestling brings to young men. I don’t know all the details at this moment, but there are some exciting things going on with the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. I will let them unveil all the great news, so stay tuned.

The party was a great success and there are many people like Noel Thompson, Andy Barth, Mike Novogratz, Dave Barry, and Jeff Waters who are doing great things for the sport of wrestling. In recent and related news the United States Wrestling Foundation officially became a working organization when we approved our bylaws. I am on the board of this new non profit group as a co chair for alumni relations along with Bobby Douglas. Our mission is to support the growth of wrestling in the United States. Our goal is to impact wrestlers from the time they begin their career and keep them involved for life. The way we intend to do this is simple. We have in the works a talent identification program for young wrestlers. The details of how this is going to work is still being ironed out, but this is the system all the best sports programs in the world use. Since there are so many youth wrestlers in this country the program will help give them guidance throughout their careers. Unlike every other country in the world we have a system set in place where our athletes go to universities to compete and get an education. There is not a lot we can do with the athletes once they enter a university, but once they graduate we plan on giving them all the support they need to become successful men. We plan on doing this in two different ways. The first way we plan on supporting the athletes is helping them financially so they can train every day to become the best wrestlers in the world, and so they can become role models for young wrestlers around the nation to emulate. The second part of our support will go into a mentorship program. The fact of the matter is not all wrestlers will choose the path of coaching wrestling. There have been many men who have wrestled and have become successful in the business world and they can attribute their success from the values and work habits instilled in them by wrestling. This is how we are going to get people involved for life. There are many ways someone can support wrestling. For me it is staying involved with the sport at its heart and working hard everyday to train athletes to become world and Olympic champions. For others the support may come from writing a check. Still there are other ways to give back, like being a mentor. Wrestlers have a drive other athletes don’t have, we have the ability to push ourselves to our limits, we strive to be the best. This mentality is what you need to be successful in any field of work. Former wrestlers have been successful in every field of work and we want to re engage these people so they can help young wrestlers become future successful lawyers, doctors, financiers, or engineers. The support system we are building with the United States Wrestling Foundation is being dubbed “the silent army”. No this is not a take on my nickname “Silent H”. The silent army can be anyone who wants to donate, mentor, coach, be a fan, or offer any other type of service or support that can help wrestling grow. In order to achieve success at anything there must be a support system set in place to make sure all the cogs in the machine are running smoothly.

The sport of wrestling has never been stronger. Every year I hear the statistic about how wrestling is increasing in numbers at the youth level and high school level. The only place where wrestling is hurting is at the collegiate level, and that is too deep of a conversation to discuss in a blog. It is my opinion that wrestling at the collegiate level is maxed out and has been for years. The NCAA wrestling tournament is one of the highest attended national championships put on by the NCAA. Wrestling has been this way for around 30 years and it could be longer, I just don’t know too many details of the tournament before I was born. The NCAA has a minimum seat capacity for a venue to host the tournament. ESPN for the last couple of years has been showing more and more of the tournament live. Wrestling is not just a niche sport, we are a strong sport with a lot of supporters. Wrestlers are also among some of the most loyal people on earth. Just go to a tournament and see how many people there are wearing Cliff Keen and Asics. The reason they wear these brands over any other brand comes down to one thing, loyalty. Cliff Keen and Asics have been giving back to the sport for longer than I have been alive. After seeing the events of this past weekend in New York City, I believe the next step for our sport to grow is to showcase our greatest event at the greatest venue in America. We can continue hosting this gem of a tournament in the midwest and we will always sell it out because of the loyalty, but in order to turn the corner we have to prove we are mainstream and not a niche sport.

A wrestlers mentality is to destroy the opponent. Fans at the college level get angry in the stands if someone is winning by 10 points and shuts down. We want to see pins, tech falls, and major decisions. Our sport gives bonus points for how bad you beat your opponent. A killer instinct is drilled into our minds every day at practice. Two weekends ago when the Seattle Seahawks played the Buffalo Bills, Pete Carroll had to apologize for the seahawks running a successful fake punt when they were up by 30 points. This incident epitomizes the difference between our sports. This difference is what makes wrestlers successful men when they are finished with the sport. We have to stop apologizing for being who we are and we have to use this mentality to help grow the sport. What other sport can march into Times Square and put on an event like Beat the Streets has done the last two years? I cannot think of a better place than Madison Square Garden to host the NCAA wrestling championships. We are going to sell out the event no matter where we host it, so we might as well do it in the media capital of the US. Let’s show that we are a sport that is worthy of being on the grandest of stages. I promise you, anyone in attendance will never forget the time they went to Madison Square Garden to watch the NCAA championships (college administrators included).

I will always remember the time I watched the Grapple in the Garden this past weekend. This was the first year for the event and I hope they continue to grow it and make it one of the marquee wrestling events in the country. We as a sport have worked hard to get to where we are and I know we will work even harder to get to where we envision ourselves going. This work ethic is why Forbes wrote an article stating that wrestlers make the best employees, I am attaching this article below. The support systems are slowing getting set in place for growth, now it is our responsibility as wrestlers to shoot for the stars.



NYAC International Tournament

 The international wrestling season is well under way, but in actuality, there are no concrete seasons since major tournaments are held throughout the entire year. The only point of reference we have in the international community is the World Championships For and Olympic Games. Since these events are considered the end of the season, the time immediately after is the start of the new season. I have had my athletes compete in four different tournaments in three countries already this season. On November 10, the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) hosted its annual international tournament, Yakutsk, and for my men who wrestle for the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/NYAC, this tournament was the end of their fall season. As such, this is a perfect time to reflect on our training, so we can adjust our future training to fit our needs moving forward.  

Here is a quick rundown of how the fall went for our CKWC wrestlers:

Jimmy Kennedy, 60kg

The NYAC tournament was the third tournament this season for Jimmy. In his first tournament, Jimmy wrestled at the University World Championships in Finland. I would have loved for Jimmy to win this tournament and believed he was ready to win, but as we all know things happen for a reason. Jimmy went there with high hopes and came away with nothing to show for all of his hard work. International wrestling is tough. You can travel all that way and not even get a chance to medal. Jimmy was not happy at all after this tournament. I remember him telling me that he knows how he is capable of performing and that he was not going to leave Russia empty-handed. I have known that Jimmy was something special from the time I arrived back in Ann Arbor a year ago. He has a perfect mix of speed, agility and strength that I haven’t seen in a long time. Jimmy was young last year and was cheap jerseys more worried about letting down the people in his life by losing than just wrestling to win. So when Jimmy went to the Ramzan Kadyrov tournament in Russia and placed third, I was not terribly surprised. This may be one of the toughest tournaments in the world; you do not place in this tournament by fluke.   Jimmy was riding high on his accomplishment of winning bronze in Russia, and I knew it was going to be hard to push him through all the way until the NYAC tournament. I was not concerned about his strength or conditioning, we as a team have been working really hard and wanted to make the NYAC tournament a focus for our training and an end point of hard work. Jimmy pushed through it and did everything he was supposed to in order to compete at his best for the NYAC tournament. I think knowing Reece Humphrey was going to be there was extra motivation for Jimmy as he made his final preparation for the tournament.   On tournament day Jimmy was calm and focused. His attitude is such that he knows he is going to win every time he steps on the mat. I love that attitude, because anything other than this will make it impossible to win at the highest level. In his matches, Jimmy stuck to his game plan. He started quickly in each match, which is very critical in freestyle. The best part about Jimmy’s wrestling is that he never stops moving. He has a rare ability to make everyone he wrestles change their style; almost all of the action in his matches is dictated by him. Since Jimmy never stops moving, his opponents have a hard time setting their feet — before they can even think about shooting on him. Using his first-place finish at the NYAC and third-place finish in Russia, Jimmy and I can get together to come up with a plan to take over the world. When I was in Hoboken for the National Team training camp, the Russian coach told me that Jimmy reminded him of Besik Kudukov. I lived and trained with Kudukov for almost a whole year, and I agree with that sentiment. My plan with Jimmy moving forward will be to keep getting him to lower his head just a little in his stance. This is more beneficial for the end of the match than the beginning. He also needs to keep plugging away at his situations so he is prepared for everything his opponents may throw his way. I’m expecting great things this year from Jimmy. He will cheap mlb jerseys take a little time off to heal and recover, but now our focus will be on getting him ready for the international trips we have scheduled for January and February.  

Kellen Russell, 66kg

Kellen is still young as a full-time American freestyle athlete. He has a lot to work on and has a bright future. After he won his second NCAA title last March, Kellen expressed his interest in Show wrestling freestyle full time. He sucked it up and went 60kg for the US Olympic Trials. He would have been undersized at 66kg after the long grueling NCAA season. After the trials he took some time off to recover, gain weight and do some clinics across the country. He was very sporadic in his training leading up to the University World Team Trials in late August. For him it was just another tournament, I know he would have liked to be on the team, but none of us really pushed the issue with his training. Kellen finally was able to get back into a proper training regimen heading into the NYAC tournament. In his first two matches, he was not challenged that much and did what he needed to do to win. Not having much international competition to look back on, Kellen’s third match got out of control. Kellen had to wrestle a veteran international competitor from the Republic of Georgia, and the outcome was not that great. Kellen wrestled really well, but he made some mistakes that will only happen 1-2 times in his career. The same can be said for his second loss to Drew Headlee, who has been wrestling freestyle for some time now and used his skills he has developed to beat Kellen. In the first period of the match with Headlee, Kellen was winning 7-3 when he gave up a second three-point move to end the period despite his losing 6-7 score. As a two-time NCAA champion and a four-time Big Ten Champion, Kellen was not pleased with his performance.   I have not been coaching long and I am relatively new to my profession — only a little over a year to be exact. I have a lot to learn, but one thing I do know is how to handle losing. During my competitive career, I had many ups and downs and for the most part, I think I figured it all out. After his second loss of the day, Kellen was visibly upset and rightfully so; he expects to win every time he is on the mat. What I had to explain to Kellen was that he is not far off from the best in the USA at his weight. I know losing stinks, but there is no use beating yourself up over it. We can dwell on not placing at a tournament or we can use it as a positive driving force to push us to never have that feeling again. In order to gain the most out of a loss, one has to look back at it with an open mind and clear focus. I explained to Kellen after NYAC that if he had been giving up a lot of points on pushouts and takedowns, then we would have to reevaluate our training. Kellen lost to the Georgian because he has never felt an arm drag like that, and between the Georgian and Headlee, Kellen gave up way too many three-point moves. This is an easy fix since those were new experiences for him. I am never happy after a loss, but I am glad this happened to Kellen now rather than closer to the U.S. Open and World Team Trials.   Over the next few months, in order to get ready for international competition, I will have some specific things for Kellen to work on. First for Kellen, since he already does a great job not letting guys in on his legs, is to get to his opponent's legs.This sounds simple in theory, but when you are wrestling the best in the world, it is a little harder than NCAA wrestling to get your hands locked around the leg. My coaching philosophy is simple, get to the legs and score on the best in the world. I am training my guys to learn how to finish from every situation; nothing in a match will ever be perfect so you have to plan to be in bad position and work your way to where you want to be. Kellen will have his finishes down well before he is comfortable getting to the guys legs. Another one of the threats we encounter when Sparring transitioning from collegiate to freestyle is in the front headlock position. I want my men to have no fear in the front headlock position. That means they will spend a lot of time sparring and doing live situations from here. If you have any fear of giving up a front headlock after you shoot, then you are not ready to wrestle the best in the world. Kellen is making great progress with this and will continue to become so efficient that nobody in the world will be able to front headlock him. Kellen is a student of the sport and being able to train alongside Jimmy will decrease the time it takes to get him to a world-class level.  

Tyrel Todd, 84kg

Tyrel was not able to wrestle at the NYAC tournament due to an injury he sustained while training. This wholesale jerseys fall was a great learning experience for Ty, and he is well on his way to having a good, successful year. Already this year, Ty spent 28 days in Russia competing and training alongside some of the best wrestlers in the world. He was able to compete in two international tournaments while over there and one dual meet. Ty and I go way back to when I was training and he was competing at the University of Michigan. We were training partners almost every Karten day for years, and because of that relationships, I think I know him as well as he knows himself. I know what he is capable of doing this year. Ty had to battle some significant injuries his senior year and again right after he graduated. He has not had a lot of time to develop into a freestyle wrestler, but he is learning a lot. He is receptive to everything brought to him; he picks it up and strives to perfect it. I believe with consistent training and good health Ty has the tools it takes to beat everyone in the U.S. at his weight.  

Kyle Massey, 120kg

This was the first tournament Kyle has wrestled in a long time — four years! While he has been committed to training for some time now, until you get on the mat you do not know what to expect. The transition from collegiate wrestling to freestyle is hard, and the first tournament is by far the hardest. Heavyweight wrestling is different, and with Kyle, I’d like to keep things simple with his training. Kyle is really flexible and athletic for a heavyweight and is really good at using cheap nba jerseys underhooks. At the NYAC tournament, Kyle lost to a Junior World champion Russian and Ryan Tomei. In the match with the Russian, Kyle was pinned off a scramble position, but in the match with Tomei, I think he controlled the match. Kyle needs to get a better feel of using his underhooks and using the edge of the mat at the same time. This is a different feel than college wrestling because in college a guy can walk off the mat with no repercussion whereas in freestyle they actually fight back. If Kyle can figure out the edge of the mat, I believe he will have some good potential this year. The plan is to have him ready for the U.S. Open. I do not want to put a big emphasis on the early season, because it is a long season and different wrestlers train differently throughout the year. My goal for Kyle — and all of my guys — is to train them consistently day in and day out so they are proficient in all areas of wrestling.  


I am excited about this season working with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club. I have great athletes to work with, and they trust the way I am training them. The guys are sold on the program, and they can see the progress they are making. It is our goal to be the best Regional Training Center in the USA.  

Final Tournament Preparations and the Russian Approach to Sparring

Final Tournament Preparations and the Russian Approach to Sparring

Yakutsk, Russia Week 2

I have been in Russia now for two weeks. It is still hard to sleep through the

night and during the day I get really tired after eating lunch, but this is expected

when you are more than half way around the world. Right now I am sitting in the

gym making ???? sure the guys cutting weight are doing alright. It is a little distracting

with guys running around and some playing basketball, but this is exciting to me

because the tournament starts tomorrow.


We have a very young American team here, but I expect great things from them,

and they expect the same from themselves. Ever since Zeke has taken over as

the head coach the National team has been doing more and more international

training camps. This is not an easy thing to pull off. First off these trips take a lot

of money, and they take guys who are sold on the benefits of doing them. When

I first came on the international scene in 2002 after I graduated I don’t think

anyone would have been willing to come to Yakutsk for two weeks. The

difference between then and now is that the guys on the team Miami Dolphins Jerseys are sold on the

benefits of training in Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Ukraine. We have gotten

past our attitude that we are Americans and we have to do it our way to become

successful. I am not saying we have to do it their way, but it always helps to

know what your main competition is doing so you can judge your training

accordingly. When I was young and just starting out in freestyle, the Russians

were a mystery, to me they were just the best in the world. Now I have spent

well over a year training in Russia and its former republics and I know first hand it

is not a secret or mystery as to why they dominate the international level.


The young guys on the team who have never been here knew before coming

what to expect, this wasn’t the case 10 years ago. The veterans on the national

team talk to the younger guys, these younger guys talk to college kids, and the

information we get here makes it way down to the youth level at some point. This

is a great thing for American wrestling, as I am a big proponent that the direction

we are going in has to start at the top and work its way down to the kids. We are

slowing building our identity again and it is not just hard work wins. We have to

train hard because everyone trying to be the best in the world is working hard,

but now we are starting to train smarter and we are focusing our efforts on great

technique and breaking down the positions that win world and Olympic titles.


After the world championships in 2010 I went to Russia to train with hopes of

coming home and becoming a world champion. That did not happen Road and I can

live with cheap jerseys that, I was not young when I went over there. When I came back to the

US I was hurt and not at my best, but now I am healing paradise up and playing around a

lot more with Tyrel Todd and Josh Churella in practice. I have noticed that even

though I don’t get on the mat that often my technique and positioning is way

better than it was when I was competing. My time in Russia taught me a lot, but

one of the most important things I learned was to slow everything down. This

past week of training in Yakutia has been light since we have a tournament that

starts on Saturday. During this week, the local coaches would put the guys

through a good 15 minute warm up and then the practices opened up for the

guys to do what they want. This is where the important part of my blog begins.


When you are young and just learning how to wrestle drilling is a great tool to

learn the move, but as you mature and grow as an athlete doing the same move

over and over with zero resistance from your partner is wasting time. You

already know how to hit the move and doing it on a guy who gives zero

resistance will not make you a better wrestler, it will make you a better driller.

What I have noticed this week when the coach opens up the practice for the

athletes to do what they want, I see the Americans wanting to drill, but the

Russians do not drill they spar. Sparring for me has changed my wrestling and

my approach to wrestling. For Americans this is a hard concept to figure out

because it is not drilling and it is not live. We Americans have two gears, all out

or nothing. This is not a bad thing, but we have to learn that there is a gear in

between. That gear is called sparring.


Not only is sparring cheap jerseys hard to figure out as an athlete, it is harder to write about. So

bear with me as I try to explain how to spar.


Sparring is live wrestling but without the intensity. Sparring gives both the

offensive and defensive guys a chance to work on their skills. This has to be

done with little intensity but perfect positioning and skill. For instance if a guy

takes a bad shot and tries to finish still in poor position the defensive guy will

have the chance to defend and win the position. A lot of times in America guys

who are sparring just trade off taking offensive shots and finish all the time. This

is more like drilling but with more resistance.


What sparring should be is both guys on their feet doing light hand fighting. This

light hand fighting will improve timing when you actually go live. It will show you

the openings you need to get to the leg. Also hand fighting while sparing will

teach you how to trick your opponent. Since you are going lighter than live you

can set traps so to say. When you do see an opening and take a shot you don’t

want to finish by blasting through the guy. Blasting through a guy is great and if

you can do it in a match it will make your life as trots a wrestler easier. While sparring

you want to get to the leg and make sure you are in good position before

finishing. This will give the defensive guy a chance to get you out of position.

The defensive guy will have the opportunity to stuff your head, take your head to

the outside or inside depending on the shot, or block your arm so you can’t cut

across. This playing around is where wrestling is learned. When you wrestle a

match and get to the leg a guy will defend it, but if you have been in that position

thousands of times while sparring, anything they throw at you will be second

nature and you should be able to finish with no problem.


As I wrote in my blog after the Olympics wrestling starts when you get to the leg,

so sparring will help with these small positions that are critical in winning

matches. This approach can be applied to all levels of wrestling. If you can get

to the leg but you are not well versed enough to finish most of the time then you

need to put yourself in the position and spar. Sparring does not have to always

be from the outside like live wrestling. Sparring is also very helpful if you pick a

position and play around. For instance if you are having trouble finishing on a

single leg you and a partner can start in over and over on a single leg and spar.

LIke I said before there should not be a lot of intensity in the finish or defense.

When you start in on the leg you should focus on how to finish with proper

positioning and skill. The same goes defensively. In this form of sparring the

smallest change in position can make or break the move. This is why it is so

important to feel this with little intensity so when you do go live you know where

your body is supposed to Another be, and your overall awareness of the position is



I hope this helps, Iʼll try to get some video of examples up soon. If we as a

country focus on the right ways of training it will not take long for us to compete

year in and year out with the Russians for the best team in the world. For some

of the readers out there being the best in the world might seem like a long ways

away, but this way of training will also help make you the best high school

wrestler you can be, the best college wrestler you can be, and more importantly it

will help produce the best future coaches who will train people to become the



Like I said earlier these training trips cost a lot of money and take a lot

organization. I want to thank USA Wrestling for letting me be part of this trip, as it

is always great to use them as a learning tool so that I can become the best

coach I can be. I also want to thank Candice Kasischke who works for USA

Wrestling, she spends a lot of time making sure myself and all of the athletes

make it through the trip with no problems. A special thanks needs to go out to

Paul Kieblesz of the NYAC, he is our team leader and has put in more time than I

can imagine, he has been doing this for 30 years. I want to thank the Cliff Keen

Wrestling Club for letting me come here with Ty so we can continue to build the

best RTC in the country. I also want to thank Cliff Keen Athletic for letting me

take the time off from my job to come here and show all of you this great

experience. I hope the photos I have taken and the blogs I have written will help

inspire young wrestlers to have goals of making the USA national team and

become world and Olympic champions. I also hope my insight has been a tool

for coaches who are trying to train the best athletes.


Now the fun begins, stay tuned in for results of the tournament and cheer on

team USA. You can’t win without support!!


The Long Road to Yakutsk, and a Surprise Return to the Mat

Yakutsk, wholesale jerseys Russia cheap nfl jerseyscheap jerseys Week 1

It Good is ЙогАрт. Friday night at 11pm and I am sitting in my bed after what seems like a month away from home. In reality I have been gone for a week and I am in Yakutsk, Russia and we just finished a dual meet against a local Yakutian team. Traveling to Yakutsk may be the hardest traveling a wrestler will ever have to do. Yakutsk is 14 times zones away from the east coast of the USA and it takes almost 18 hours of flying time to get here. I started out my trip in the Detroit airport with Chase Pami and Tyrel Todd last Friday at 7:30pm and we did not get in to Yakutsk until Monday around 11am. I think it is better to just fly straight through and suck it up with two over night flights in a row, but this year we spent the night in Moscow. When we arrived in Yakutsk we headed straight to the dorms to check in and get a little rest before the evening practice. The first practice is always the hardest and it is not easy, but the guys on the team did a great job and none of them complained about it. I know how it is to come this far and compete as an athlete. I wrestled here 3 times in my career. It is a little different this year since we had a training camp and dual before the tournament, so that is why I am glad the guys had a good attitude and focused on being positive right from the get go. Tuesday was still a little rough for myself and the guys, but having 2 practices that day helped us not think about the travel and how tired we all were. Wednesday like every Wednesday in Russia we did not practice on the mat. Instead we went about 15 minutes outside the city to jog in a field and so some drills on our feet. The guys really liked this and it helped to rest their bodies after all the travel and training. In the afternoon they took us around the city and showed us two museums in the city. The first museum was dedicated to all the mining that the city is known for and the second was dedicated to the heritage of the Yakutian people. I have been to the mining museum before and I had forgot how many natural resources this city has like gold, silver, diamonds, and many unique quartz. Thursday was a light day since we had the dual meet scheduled for today. The dual unlike the last time I was here was not wrestled in Yakutsk. We drove a little more than an hour away to a small village for the match. The reason we did this was to help promote wrestling in that particular village. I loved it and I think the guys on the team felt the same way. We were treated great and the whole afternoon was a showcase for them. They took us to a nice lunch with a member of the Russia Parliament. When the match started they had traditional dancing, a religious ceremony, a girl who sang an unbelievable version of the Beatles Oh! Darling, and speeches from some local VIPs. The dual meet was not a typical dual meet since we did not have a 60kg, 74kg, or 120kg. We did have three 66kg, three 84kg, and I wrestled 120kg for us. For most of the guys this was their first time competing in a long time and it gave them a bench mark as to where they are physically, technically, and tactically. I think for the most part the team did a great job and for the wrestlers who did not compete like they are capable of competing it was good to know where they are at so we can spend the next week fine tuning the skills it will take to win the tournament. The tournament is going to be very tough. Turkey is here, Iran is on their way, and at 60kg Velikov from Bulgaria is here. I am sure there will be a lot of top Russian to compete against as well. I am excited to see exactly where the guys are and help them start their season off right and then send them home with some good tips to improve from now until the next tournament. This is going to be my first full season as a coach and I am really excited about it. I think I have been doing a good job and from the way Tyrel wrestled today I think he is improving a lot. We have been working on a lot of technique so it will be interesting to see how he responds to it and applies it to real match situations. Tyrel is an amazing athlete and he is physically a strong wrestler so I know he will be able to handle it and I expect great things from him this year. I believe in the way I am training him and I know he believes in it as will. Confidence is a huge part of our sport and if the athlete and coach can be on the same page great things can happen. Zeke gets in on Sunday and will be with us as we make our final preparations for the tournament. He will continue on with almost all of the guys to the next tournament in Grozy as well. The US lost the match 4-5 55kg Frank Perrelli lost 6-0, 3-0 66kg Chase Pami lost 1-0 , 0-1 (two clinches) 66kg Kevin LeValley won 1-0, 4-3 66kg Adam Hall won 1-0, 1-0 84kg Keith Gavin lost 0-3 0-1 84kg Max Askren won 7-1, Fall second period 84kg Tyrel Todd won 0-1, 4-0, 6-0 96kg Les Sigman lost 0-1, 0-3 120kg Andy Hrovat lost 0-1(clinch), 0-1 I did not think I would ever compete again, but it was fun to wrestle in this dual. I tried to tell the guys to not let it come down to the last match, but unfortunately for me I lost and then the team lost the match. To make it worse I heard the announcer say during the match the it was tied 4-4 and whoever won the match won the dual. I had to wrestle a giant of a heavyweight, but the local sports committee has done a lot to bring us out here and it was the least I could do to help them put on a good show. This was the 4th weight class I have wrestled in international competition and I don't want anyone holding their breath for my return to training. Andy