COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Andy Hrovat loves a challenge. And he definitely has one on his hands at the U.S. World Team Trials on Saturday at the Mid-America Center.
Up a weight this year at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., the 2008 Olympian captured downed J.D. Bergman to win the Challenge Tournament in freestyle wrestling.
Hrovat now advances to face U.S. Nationals champion Jake Varner in the best-of-3 final round series on Saturday night.
"It's hard, wrestling these bigger guys," said Hrovat, who also made the 2006 U.S. World Team. "I'm still trying to adjust to getting to my shots. I'm going in on a shot, but then pulling back before I get my hips underneath me. I haven't had a lot of big bodies to train with. Other than that, I still feel stronger than these guys though. I feel stronger every match I wrestle."
Hrovat did beat Varner twice last year, at the U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials, when both wrestlers were at 84 kg/185 lbs.
"I'm going to look to control the ties," Hrovat said. "I will try to control the middle of the mat and let him come to me. When I need to score I know I can score."
2006 World bronze medalist Lindsey Durlacher - who retired after the 2008 Olympic Trials before returning a few months later - downed No. 1 seed Jermaine Hodge in the semifinals.
He will now meet 2008 Olympian Spenser Mango in the Greco-Roman finals at 55 kg/121 lbs.
"I took my summer off and took some time (off), but it was hard to walk away," Durlacher said. "I had some guys get me back into in, guys like T.C. Dantzler, Dremiel Byers, and some of the members of the World Championship team were asking me to come back and were saying, 'Hey come back, we're just as old as you are and we'd like to see you on the team.' Those guys stayed on me and after the summer I got it going again."
The finals matchups are set for Saturday night in 11 of the 21 weight classes in the three styles. The other 10 weight classes will be contested on Sunday.
BEST-OF-3 FINALS MATCHUPS
60 kg/132 lbs.
Mike Zadick (Gator WC) vs. Shawn Bunch (Gator WC)
74 kg/163 lbs.
Travis Paulson (Sunkist Kids) vs. Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota Storm)
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Jake Varner (Sunkist Kids) vs. Andy Hrovat (New York AC)
55 kg/121 lbs.
Lindsey Durlacher (New York AC) vs. Spenser Mango (New York AC)
74 kg/163 lbs.
Harry Lester (New York AC) vs. Jess Hargrave (U.S. Army)
84 kg/185 lbs.
T.C. Dantzler (Unattached) vs. Chas Betts (Minnesota Storm)
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Dremiel Byers (U.S. Army) vs. Brandon Rupp (New York AC)
51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Patricia Miranda (Sunkist Kids) vs. Jessica Medina (New York AC)
59 kg/130 lbs.
Kelsey Campbell (Sunkist Kids) vs. Deanna Rix (New York AC)
67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Adeline Gray (New York AC) vs. Christen Paysse (Univ. of Cumberlands)
72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Jenna Pavlik (USOTC) vs. Ali Bernard (Gator WC)