Silent H changing address, weight class
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Andy Hrovat is entering the final phase of his wrestling career.
And he figures the best place for him to achieve his goals is at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The 2008 Olympian and 2006 World Team member said he plans to move to the Olympic Training Center in June. He will make the move shortly after wrestling in the U.S. World Team Trials on May 30-31 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Hrovat has lived in Ann Arbor, Mich., since 1998. He was an All-American wrestler for Michigan and has continued to train there since his college days ended.
"The time's right to move out to the Olympic Training Center," said Hrovat, now 29 years old. "I only have a few years left to accomplish my goals in this sport. In order for us to become better as a nation, the best guys need to train together. Hopefully, other people will jump on board and want to train together in Colorado Springs. I know some other guys are talking about doing this as well."
Hrovat is the first big name lured to Colorado Springs by new USA Wrestling Resident Freestyle Coach Brandon Slay, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist who trained at the OTC.
"I am very excited that Andy Hrovat is coming out here to join our Resident program," Slay said. "I believe this is an ideal place for Andy to continue on his journey of making World Teams and another Olympic Team and accomplishing his dreams in wrestling. I believe we can provide him with a full-time freestyle focus with full-time freestyle coaches seven days a week."
Hrovat and a number of other top American freestyle wrestlers were in Colorado Springs earlier this month for a preparation camp for the U.S. World Team Trials.
The charismatic Hrovat, also known as Silent H, said he plans to move up to 96 kg/211.5 lbs. for the Trials. He had previously competed at 84 kg/185 lbs. Champions in each weight class at the World Team Trials advance to the World Championships on Sept. 21-27 in Herning, Denmark.
Hrovat was caught and pinned in the first round of the U.S. Nationals last month in Las Vegas. The top-seeded Hrovat won the first period over Tom Meester at 84 kilos, but then ran out of gas in the second period.
"I got food poisoning the night before weigh-ins," Hrovat said. "I couldn't eat anything until after the finals were over. I went out in that first match and won 4-0 in the first period. But I had zero energy out there."
Hrovat said his natural weight has been up close to 210, prompting his move up a weight class. He said the move is permanent.
Jake Varner, another wrestler who has moved up a weight class this year, won the U.S. Nationals to earn a berth in the best-of-3 finals at 96 kilos at the Trials. Varner, an NCAA champion this past season for Iowa State, will sit out while Hrovat and the rest of the qualifiers battle it out in the Challenge Tournament.
The Challenge Tournament winner then meets Varner in the final-round series at the World Team Trials. Hrovat beat Varner in the U.S. Nationals and the Olympic Trials in 2008 at 84 kilos.
"I have always been strong enough to wrestle 96 and now I've filled out to the point where I'm ready to move up," Hrovat said. "I feel I can wrestle with the best at 96. I believe that if you're good enough you don't need to cut much weight."
Going through the Challenge Tournament is nothing new for Hrovat. He was the No. 5 seed in the 2006 World Team Trials before winning the tournament. He placed second in the 2008 U.S. Nationals, but came back at the Olympic Trials to win the Challenge Tournament before knocking off Mo Lawal in the final-round series.
"I've never won the U.S. Open," Hrovat said with a laugh. "I don't think anybody has made three (World-level) teams without ever winning the U.S. Open, but I'm planning on doing it. I believe 100 percent I'm going to be wrestling in Denmark at 96 kilos for the U.S."