Jared Frayer is tired of being a training partner.
Tired of finishing second when he thinks he could've been the guy out there representing the United States at the Olympics and World Championships.
And tired of coming up just short in the biggest matches of the season.
Frayer nearly quit the sport after a disappointing performance at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
But something brought Frayer back. Second at the 2009 U.S. World Team Trials, the 31-year-old Frayer started this season by winning the Sunkist Kids International Open late last month in Phoenix.
"It's been frustrating, being that close to making a World Team," said Frayer, ranked No. 2 in the U.S. in freestyle wrestling at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. "The reason I am still doing this is I still believe I can be the No. 1 guy. I still enjoy going out there and competing and scrapping. I love the sport and everything about it. I know I can wrestle with the best guys in the World."
Frayer, who previously coached at Harvard and Iowa, is now an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin. He had spent the past few years training under Terry Brands, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and this past season in Iowa City.
"Frayer still has a lot of good wrestling left in him - he's obviously still very competitive," Brands said. "He knows he has some areas to work on before he makes a U.S. Team. He realizes he needs to keep getting better before he can reach his goals."
Frayer was a training partner at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and again at the 2009 World Championships in Herning, Denmark.
Frayer nearly made the American team in 2009 before falling to Trent Paulson in the final-round series of the World Team Trials in Paulson's hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"It was frustrating, to lose in the finals," Frayer said. "We are both pretty good in a lot of the same positions. I felt like I outwrestled him, but I didn't put myself in position to score as much as I should have. I feel real confident rolling around and opening it up more."
Frayer said the performances at September's World Championships by World silver medalist Jake Herbert and World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev were inspiring.
"Both those guys are opening up and scoring more points," Frayer said. "We need more people to wrestle like that."
Frayer figured he was done wrestling after the 2008 Olympic Trials, where he placed fifth. He was ready to head back home to Clearwater, Fla., and start a career as a high school teacher and coach.
But his plans started to change a short time later.
Frayer went to Iowa City in the summer of 2008 to train with Olympian Doug Schwab. During that time, Iowa head coach Tom Brands asked Frayer about joining the Hawkeyes as the team's strength and conditioning coach.
Frayer took the job and stayed in shape by training with some of the top middleweights in the Hawkeye wrestling room. He then made a decision shortly after Christmas.
"I was holding my own in the room and feeling pretty good about it," Frayer said. "I decided to make it happen and throw my hat back in the ring."
Frayer, who competes for the Gator Wrestling Club, had not competed in 10 months when he entered the 2009 U.S. Nationals last April in Las Vegas. He struggled to a fifth-place finish.
He came back a short time later and won the Northern Plains Regional in Waterloo, Iowa.
"I didn't feel quite right at Nationals," Frayer said. "I had to knock off some rust. It was huge for me to get another weigh-in and some more matches in at the regional before the Trials. It was really what I needed to knock the rest of the kinks out."
Frayer knocked off college stars and NCAA champions Brent Metcalf and Darrion Caldwell to reach the finals of the World Team Trials.
Caldwell upset Metcalf in the 2009 NCAA finals, but Frayer prevented the rematch from happening at the Trials.
"Everybody was talking about Metcalf having a rematch with Caldwell," Frayer said. "In my mind, they were two college kids and I was supposed to beat them. They are good young wrestlers, but I expected to get back to the finals. I was pumped up about being back in the finals."
After falling to Paulson in the finals, Frayer spent his summer as a training partner while helping the U.S. Team prepare for the World Championships.
A month after returning home from Denmark, he entered the Sunkist event. Frayer said he normally doesn't compete this early in the season.
"I had been doing all the World Team Camps and all the training with those guys," he said. "I was in great shape and I felt like I needed to compete. I wanted to get some matches in because I knew I would miss (last week's) training camp in Colorado Springs. I also wanted to get some matches in before this dual meet against the Russians."
Frayer, who also finished second at the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials, will compete for the U.S. team that will face a team from Russia in a dual meet in New York City on Nov. 20. The Russians are the reigning World team champions.
"I am looking forward to this dual meet," he said. "The Russians will bring a tough team and it will be a good opportunity for me to see where I'm at."
Frayer has a close relationship with Terry Brands.
"If I ever need anything, Terry's a phone call away," Frayer said. "I have the utmost respect for Terry. He's someone I look up to as a competitor, as a leader and as a coach. I feel the same way about Tom. The Brands twins are great people who live their life the right way. They are so passionate about what they do.
"If I make the 2010 World Team, Terry Brands is the guy I want in my corner. He's a close friend and a special guy."
The feeling of respect is mutual.
"Frayer is just a great person," Brands said. "He's a great mentor and role model for the guys that he coaches. He lives his life the right way. I think he's going to make a very good coach."
Frayer said he has not committed yet to wrestling through the full Olympic cycle that culminates with the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"I'm taking it year by year, and I'm enjoying what I'm doing," he said. "I really don't know how long I want to keep doing this. Right now, I feel good."
The World Team Trials return to Council Bluffs in 2010.
"I just have to put that one big day together," Frayer said. "Once I make the U.S. Team, I know I can compete for a medal on the international level. I know I can do it."