Schwab back on top
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Schwab back on top
Hawkeye assistant a champion once again
By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Iowa volunteer assistant coach Doug Schwab, pictured in the Iowa wrestling room, won a title at the World Team Trials last weekend. Press-Citizen / Matthew Holst
There are so many moments that Doug Schwab can point to now as reasons why he has an opportunity in September to become a World champion.
There was the decision last spring to stick with Tom Brands and come home to Iowa after two years as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech. There were the experiences he gained sitting in the corner as an assistant with the Hawkeyes, seeing up-close illustrations of just how valuable confidence can be on a wrestling mat.
There were all the daily phone conversations with his brother, Mark, that reinforced his mind. And there was the day in April when Brands saw everything turn around.
But perhaps most of all, there was the two-month training period that followed and led up to last weekend's World Team Trials when Schwab, a 1999 NCAA champion and three-time All-American for the Hawkeyes, had his long-awaited breakthrough on the national freestyle circuit.
"I kept getting better, and I could feel it in my training," said Schwab, who punched his ticket to the World Championships on Sept. 15-24 in Baku, Azerbaijan. "I saw some things, and Tom talked to me, and he thought I was training more with a purpose and was motivated for whatever reason. Maybe now I'm where I want to be -- in the situation I want to be in. I don't know. I don't really have any answers."
Truth is, Schwab, 29, had all the answers last weekend in Las Vegas. He solved Teyon Ware, Jared Lawrence, Zack Esposito, Jared Frayer and Chris Bono in succession to capture the title in a 145.5-pound weight class featuring the reigning World champion (Bill Zadick), an Olympic gold medalist (Kendall Cross), eight NCAA champions and three other collegiate national finalists.
In doing so, Schwab became the biggest story in a freestyle tournament devoid of surprises. Six of the seven weights were won by the No. 1 seed, including former Hawkeyes Mike Zadick (132) and Joe Williams (185). Schwab, the sixth seed in the Challenge Tournament, sent wrestling historians scrambling to figure out if someone in such a position has ever wound up on the U.S. World Team.
"Everybody said, 'If you wrestle the tournament again next week, who knows who would be where,'" Schwab said. "Well, they're not going to wrestle it another time, and I feel like the more I wrestle it, the more I come out on top.
"You've got a lot of guys who have varying styles. You've got a guy like Bono who is a grinder, real basic, stays solid. Then you've got a guy like Frayer who's real funky and you've got to stay real careful in certain positions. You've got a guy like Lawrence who stays real low, and then Larkin and Esposito. You've got a lot of different, varying styles from guys who have all had success."
To some extent, this is what Schwab now encounters inside the Iowa room. With training partners such as Zadick, NCAA champion Mark Perry Jr., FILA Junior World Team member Jake Kerr, freshman Brent Metcalf and Alex Tsirtsis around his weight, Schwab can get a variety of different styles and looks on a daily basis. What's more, he has two Olympic gold medalists -- Brands and Dan Gable -- and past World Team coach Mike Duroe overseeing his workouts.
"The system is important, the environment, the leaders of the program, the coaching staff is important," Brands said. "But equally important is the attitude these guys come in with and what they come to work with, and he exhibited that."
Schwab seemingly had been on the verge of a breakthrough for years. He had posted victories against all of the top opponents in his weight class, but never consistently, never in the same tournament. As he put it: "I'd beat one guy, then I'd lose the next match to a guy I had beaten before. I've known I've been right there. I've been (ranked) 4, 5, 6 the last five years, and it was getting real old."
Schwab placed third at the 2006 World Team Trials, but while others in his weight class were wrestling all over the globe, "little injuries" and coaching obligations kept Schwab out of competition for much of the past year.
"When you start dedicating yourself to the guys, you want to see it through with them for everything," he said. "And coaching and competing are total opposites. When you're competing, you've got to be selfish and you've got to worry about yourself and yourself only. When you're coaching, you've got to be really selfless because it's all about the athletes, not you."
If there's a competitive advantage to coaching, though, Schwab found it with things he would learn sitting in the corner. He drew inspiration from watching Perry win the NCAA 165-pound title in March by beating Oklahoma State's Johny Hendricks for the first time in seven collegiate tries. To Schwab, it was an illustration of what can happen when you believe in yourself, stay strong mentally and stay in your best positions.
A couple of weeks after the NCAA Tournament, Schwab arrived in Las Vegas to learn he wasn't seeded among the top eight at his weight class for the U.S. Nationals. He had to wrestle through a mini-tournament just to compete in the main show.
"To me, they were pretty much telling me I didn't belong there," he said.
Although he placed seventh that weekend, Schwab wrestled eight matches in the tournament and regained the feel for competing at that level. Brands viewed it as a turning point.
"Where he started to get motivated was when he wasn't in the top eight seeds," Brands said. "We talked about it, it hurt him, I could tell it hurt him and I saw a change."
With it, Schwab started a two-month training period that he said was the best phase he's ever gone through. Instead of lending his expertise as a coach, he was the athlete getting the attention with Brands, Duroe and former Hawkeye and Olympic gold medalist Randy Lewis providing tips.
"They say if you keep doing the same things, you're going to have the same results," Schwab said. "Maybe that's what had been happening the last few years. I've been doing the same things and hadn't made adjustments. I just felt like the move here was important for training partners, and my whole lifestyle is better in general -- having a house, having a supportive girlfriend, having everything in place to achieve the things I want."
Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or email@example.com.
Re: Schwab back on top
cool story, i hope he can pull off a world title this fall
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