June 15. 2008 9:02PM
Ex-Hawk Schwab secures Olympic berth
By J.R. Ogden

The Gazette


Doug Schwab On Olympic team

LAS VEGAS ? Doug Schwab's first Father's Day will be remembered forever.

Not only is it the first one since the birth of his son, Hayden Michael, about five months ago, he woke up Sunday morning a member of the United States Olympic freestyle wrestling team.

"It's going to be a good day," he said Saturday night.

A 1999 NCAA champion at the University of Iowa and now an assistant coach there, the 30-year-old Schwab earned his trip to Beijing by beating another former Hawkeye, 2006 World Champion Bill Zadick, in the 145.5-pound U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trial freestyle finals Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Schwab's first thoughts Saturday night were about this family, his fiance and young son in the audience and the impact brothers Mike and Mark had on his career.

"Since day one, since I was a little kid I got to watch my older brothers," he said, sitting next to Mark, a four-time Iowa high school state champion and All-American at the University of Northern Iowa. "Mark and Mike, they were always the example for me.

"I learned how to do things the right way from a young age. It just stuck with me."

Those early lessons, plus the support from his sister, Julie, and parents, Phil and Sue, and now soon-to-be wife, Allison, have paved the way for the youngest Schwab son.

"I just have an incredible support staff that has always believed in me," he said. "They

ever got down on me, always encouraged me."

He said the Olympic Trials title was partly for Mark, partly for himself and partly for his hometown of Osage and his new home in Iowa City.

"Twenty years ago, he would have been on the team, there's no doubt in my mind," Doug said of Mark, whose career was cut short by a series of knee problems. "He was that good."

Part of his family also includes his colleagues and wrestling room pupils at the University of Iowa. Schwab had left Iowa City for other opportunities, but returned when Tom Brands became head coach two years ago.

"It comes from the room we're in," he said of the confidence he now has, "from wrestling guys who battle and fight with you and don't just roll over.

"I'm just in a great situation."

Schwab was a state high school champion for Osage in 1996 after a pair of runner-up finishes. Coached by Dan Gable and Jim Zalesky at Iowa, he also finished second and third in the NCAA tournament.

"It's just great being back home," he said.

After a series of disappointing finishes in national meets ? finishes of third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh since 2002 ? Schwab broke through last year by winning the World Team trials and earning a bronze medal in the Pan American Games.

The difference now, he said, is "probably just believing in my work.

"I got put in a great situation coming back to Iowa," he said. "Great workout partners, a great support staff."

Beating Zadick is a perfect example. Zadick is a two-time World team member, but Schwab has handled him in recent meetings, including two straight bouts and four of five periods Saturday night.

"It shows me that I'm as good as anybody in the world," he said.

That, of course, is the goal now ? winning gold in Beijing.

"I'm just going to train hard," he said. "Eight-20-08 is zero hour for Olympic gold."

First, however, he'll marry the mother of his child. The wedding date, according to Mark because Doug drew a blank at the question, is June 28.

Allison will marry a member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

"I really don't know if I can grasp it right now," he said Saturday night of winning the Trials. "It's something that I've thought about and dreamed about since I was a little kid. Now it's reality.

"I don't know if it's sunk in. It felt pretty damn good, though."

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