June 15. 2008 9:01PM
Mike Zadick wins, waits
By J.R. Ogden

The Gazette


Eric Luedke (right) of Iowa City and Donny Pritzlaff of Madison, Wis., compete at 163 pounds Sunday during the U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling trials in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS ? While Mike Zadick waited, the Olympic dreams of a pair of Iowa State wrestlers came up a bit short Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials.

Zadick, a three-time all-American at the University of Iowa and now an assistant on Tom Brands' staff, won the 132-pound title at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night, but his Olympic bid is in the hands of FILA, the sport's international governing body,

Because the U.S. failed to qualify an Olympic berth at the weight ? coming up short in a series of qualifying tournaments ? Zadick is hoping his country earns one of several wild-card berths in this summer's Games.

"We're going to get the wild-card," Zadick said confidently Saturday night after beating former Edinboro standout Shawn Bunch, 2-1, in the best-of-three series. "Everyone came here to this tournament planning on winning this thing and going to the Olympic Games."

Zadick was the victor, winning the first bout, 3-1 and 1-0, losing the second, 3-0, 3-0, then grabbing the deciding match, 0-2, 3-0, 1-0 ? the final takedown coming with 21 seconds left.

"I'm not much of a celebrator," he said. "I'm excited, I'm glad. I'm just not happy with my second match. Honestly, it's still (ticking) me off.

"I'm just not happy with the way I'm performing."

He's also not happy about the situation with the Olympics and blames himself for the U.S. not getting a spot.

"It's on my shoulders, it's my fault," he said, noting he didn't wrestle in some qualifiers and didn't perform well in others.

But, he said, if FILA wants a "true" Olympic Games, it should let him wrestle. A decision was expected to be made Sunday, but no official word had come from FILA as of last night.

"I think I'm qualified to be a threat to anybody at 60 kilos," said Zadick, a 2006 World silver medalist.

Several other former Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa wrestlers came up short Sunday during the final day of the three-day Trials, including ISU junior Jake Varner and recent graduate Kurt Backes. Both lost in the challenge tournament finals, Varner to Andy Hrovat, a former Michigan wrestler, at 185, and Backes to former Minnesota standout Damion Hahn at 211.5.

"This is great experience for him," Iowa State Coach Cael Sanderson said Sunday of Varner, a two-time NCAA runner-up with two years of eligibility left. "Obviously his goal is to be an Olympic champion, and to get there you have to go through the Trials and beat the best guys in the country.

"This is exactly what he needs."

Former Iowa standouts Joe Williams and Lee Fullhart lost early at 185 and did not return to the mat for consolation bouts, likely retiring from the sport. Williams was a 2004 Olympian and two-time World bronze medalist, Fullhart a four-time U.S. national runner-up and three-time World Team Trials runner-up.

Former UNI all-American Sean Stender lost in the semifinals at 211.5.

Steve Mocco, a 2003 NCAA champion at Iowa, wrestled for the Olympic spot at 264.5 last night after winning the challenge tournament.

n Contact the writer: (319) 368-8696 or jr.ogden@gazcomm.com