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|World champion Bill Zadick back on the mat, ready to compete at U.S. World Team Trials|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Terry Brands knows Bill Zadick about as well as anybody.
They've trained together in Iowa City and Colorado Springs. And Brands helped coach Zadick to an NCAA title for the Iowa Hawkeyes in 1996 and a World championship for Team USA in 2006.
So even though Zadick has missed nearly the entire season with an assortment of injuries and ailments, Brands is confident Zadick can still make an impact at the U.S. World Team Trials on June 9-10 in Las Vegas.
"Zadick will be ready to compete at the Trials," said Brands, USA Wrestling's Freestyle Resident Coach. "The past is the past, and injuries are injuries. Determination can go a long way toward victory."
That determination was evident when Zadick went on a memorable five-match run that culminated with a World title at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. last Sept. 28 at the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou, China.
With a win at the World Team Trials next weekend, Zadick will qualify for the 2007 World Championships on Sept. 17-23 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Zadick won a bronze medal in freestyle at the Pan American Championships a couple of weeks ago in El Salvador. It was the 34-year-old Zadick's first competition since he won the World title last fall.
"It's been frustrating being out, but I'm excited about wrestling at the Trials and really looking forward to it," Zadick said after Thursday afternoon's practice. "I'm excited about making another World Team and going after it again."
Zadick, a resident-athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, is expected to draw the No. 3 seed for the Challenge Tournament at the World Team Trials. Zadick's long-time rival, Chris Bono, won the U.S. Nationals in April to clinch a spot in the best-of-3 finals series for the Trials.
The rest of the qualifiers at 145.5 lbs. will battle it out in a Challenge Tournament earlier in the day on June 10 for the right to meet Bono in the finals series later in the day. Jared Frayer will be the No. 1 seed for the Challenge Tournament and Zack Esposito the No. 2 seed since they finished second and third at the U.S. Nationals. The highest Zadick could be seeded for the Challenge Tournament is third since he did not compete at the U.S. Nationals.
How important was it for Zadick to get back on the mat at the Pan Am Championships?
"It was real important," said Zadick, who competes for the Gator Wrestling Club. "From a competition standpoint, I've been off the mat all year with some bad luck and whatever. You just try to learn from it and go on. Pan Ams was a good way to blow out the cobwebs before the Trials.
"It's not fun - having to sit out as long as I did. You train your heart out for years and years, and the whole object is to get out there and wrestle. It's hard to sit there and watch."
Zadick is in the always-tough American weight class of 66 kilos that includes another veteran in Bono, who is now the head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga. The 33-year-old Bono has made three U.S. World Teams.
Zadick came into the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials as the No. 2 seed after finishing second to Bono at the U.S. Nationals. But Zadick came through to win the Trials in Sioux City, Iowa, and followed with his magical run to a gold medal at the World Championships.
Zadick also made the 2001 U.S. World Team and placed seventh at the World Championships that year.
Zadick's younger brother, Mike, won a silver medal at the 2006 World Championships at 60 kg/132 lbs. Mike placed second behind Nate Gallick at the 2007 U.S. Nationals. Mike Zadick will be seeded No. 1 for the Challenge Tournament for the World Team Trials with Gallick sitting out during the day after already landing a spot in the best-of-3 finals.
Bill Zadick was asked how different his mindset is this year as the reigning World champion.
"This is a new year," Zadick said. "And there is another World championship to go after. My approach is no different for me than last year was."
Zadick said he's prepared for the rigors of making it through a long day at the World Team Trials that would include the Challenge Tournament and the best-of-3 finals against a rested opponent.
"Physically, I feel great. I feel real good," he said. "I'm just anxious to get out there and wrestle up to my potential. I'm ready to go. My conditioning feels great and I feel like I'm wrestling well. I'm excited to get back out on the mat and compete."
Zadick and Brands, a two-time World champion, have continued to mesh together well as athlete and coach.
"Terry's a great coach," Zadick said. "I've learned a lot from Terry and his brother, Tom, when I was at Iowa. They are kind of cut out of the same mold. Terry and I have really clicked, and I can't thank him enough for what he's done for me. He's an amazing individual and an amazing coach."