Sunday, April 27, 2008

Schwab one step closer to Olympics

By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen

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There were so many wrestlers with great credentials in his bracket this weekend that Doug Schwab knew some followers of the sport probably were figuring the U.S. Nationals could be determined by something as chance as a coin flip.

Schwab had seized ownership of the 145.5-pound weight class last summer with his first major breakthrough on the national freestyle level, claiming a spot on the United States team and eventually placing fifth in his first trip to the World Championships. Still, the Iowa assistant coach figured there were disbelievers who thought he was little more than a one-time jackpot winner in Las Vegas.

Schwab surfaced to the top of a bracket filled with stars again Saturday night, claiming the title at the U.S. Nationals at the Las Vegas Convention Center and perhaps erasing any of the doubts that he was a wrestler who had one good tournament a year ago.

Paradoxically, he had a little help from the flip of a coin.

Schwab defeated 2006 World champion Bill Zadick 1-0, 3-0 in a championship battle of former Hawkeyes. Schwab scored all of his points in the tiebreak leg-clinch position after the disc popped up red, putting him in the advantageous offensive position.

"I said I'm betting all red tonight," Schwab joked.

The odds are in Schwab's favor now to make the Olympic Team. By winning the tournament Saturday and placing in the top 10 in last year's World Championships, he meets USA Wrestling's criteria for an automatic ticket to the best-of-three championship series in June when the Olympic Trials will be held in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, others such as Zadick and Iowa sophomore Brent Metcalf will have to get through a bracket of challengers to get a shot at Schwab.

"I've got to take it one match at a time, and I can't think that I'm two matches away," Schwab said. "This doesn't mean anything. This is just a step. This doesn't put me on the team. It puts me in good position, but it doesn't put me on the team.

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