July 30. 2008 9:55PM
Terry Brands gets U.S. ready
By J.R. Ogden
Terry Brands Resident coach
Eight years ago, Terry Brands was getting ready for his Olympic moment, a run that ended with a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling.
Today, Brands is wrapping up his work with six ? maybe seven ? Olympic wrestlers, specifically 121-pounder Henry Cejudo and heavyweight Steve Mocco.
"It's the same; it's the same feeling," Brands said in a recent telephone interview from Colorado Springs, Colo., where the U.S. team wraps up training today. "Right now, it feels like preparing for more than one person. A lot of this preparation takes place in my head and then putting it down on paper."
Brands, whose twin brother, Tom, is head coach at the University of Iowa, is the head resident coach for USA Wrestling and the assistant national team coach under former Iowa State standout Kevin Jackson.
A two-time NCAA champ at Iowa, Brands won't be an official Olympic coach next month in Beijing, but he will be on hand for support. Brands also works with the rest of the U.S. national team ? ex-Hawkeyes Mike Zadick and Doug Schwab, Cedar Rapids native Ben Askren, Andy Hrovat and Daniel Cormier ? but his main assignment is with full-time residents at the Olympic Training Center.
Olympic freestyle wrestling is Aug. 19-21.
"I'm around them every day," he said of Cejudo and Mocco, who are living full-time in Colorado Springs. "They are familiar and responding to the structure we have in place."
Brands likes this U.S. team, even if Zadick doesn't get to wrestle. Zadick will travel with the team and be "on weight" in Beijing. He will wrestle if another 132-pounder fails to make weight or is injured.
"I think our lineup is very capable," Brands said. "We're not ready yet, but we'll be ready."
Cejudo is one of the most interesting stories on the U.S. team. Just 21, he has won Olympic and World team trials and is a two-time Pan American Games gold medalist. He didn't wrestle in college, becoming a national team resident before graduating from Coronado High School in Colorado Springs in 2006. He won two Colorado state high school titles after winning two Arizona prep titles.
"He wasn't really in a position to go to (college) from a desire standpoint," Brands said.
Brands said as national team coach he's enjoyed molding a young Cejudo, but isn't sure skipping college is the best choice for all wrestlers. Some wrestlers, he said, want to focus on international freestyle and not on collegiate folkstyle.
"It's not a trend," he said, adding that "wrestling is wrestling" and he would have enjoyed watching Cejudo on that stage.
But, he added, "I'm going to support whatever he needs and whatever he wants."
Mocco is a veteran of collegiate and international wrestling. He won two NCAA titles, one at Iowa and one at Oklahoma State, and was a two-time national runner-up. Like Cejudo, this is his first Olympic team.
Mocco was a three-time World Team Trials runner-up and a third-place finisher at the 2004 Olympic Trials before breaking through at the Olympic Trials in Las Vegas last month.
"He's really starting to believe in himself," Brands said, adding that Mocco has that "take no prisoners attitude" again."
"He knows that he has to have an unsurpassed work ethic ... I know he's ready."
Brands said his pupils are capable of earning medals.
"Their attitude is great and their work ethics are unsurpassed," he said. "I know nobody is outworking these guys."
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