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Olympian Doug Schwab looking to finish strong as he sets sights on winning World Team Trials

Doug Schwab placed fifth in the 2007 World Championships. Larry Slater photo.

Doug Schwab was hoping it wouldn't be a deal breaker.

Fortunately for Schwab, it wasn’t.

During the interview process that eventually landed him the head coaching position at Northern Iowa, Schwab indicated he wanted to keep competing through the end of this international season.

Fifth in the 2007 World Championships and a 2008 Olympian, Schwab has his sights set on winning his first World-level wrestling medal in 2010.

Schwab, 32, placed third at last month’s U.S. Open and is making final preparations to compete in the U.S. World Team Trials on June 11-12 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

“I still haven’t got what I wanted as a wrestler,” Schwab said prior to a late afternoon workout on Tuesday. “I’m competing because I know can still win at the top level against the best guys in the World. I have goals I can still attain. I want to be the best in the World. I still don’t think I’ve reached my full potential as a competitor.”

If Schwab wins the Trials in freestyle at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., he qualifies for September’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

Once this season ends, he likely will take his shoes off for the final time as a competitor.

“I can’t be a head coach and compete, and do both of them justice,” he said. “I need to devote all my energy to my athletes and my program. That may raise my urgency and awareness to another level when I wrestle at the Trials, but next year is never guaranteed anyway. I will just go out there and compete the way I’m capable.”

Schwab said his decision to wrestle in the upcoming World Team Trials was an easy one.

“I’ve been preparing and getting ready for the Trials all year,” he said. “I’m not going to change in mid-stream. The administration and (UNI athletic director) Troy Dannen understood. They were real good about letting me wrestle for the rest of this year.”

Schwab, a native of Osage, Iowa, has been a busy man since recently taking the UNI job.

“It’s been pretty hectic, and that’s expected,” he said. “I’ve been getting everything organized and connecting with all of the guys at UNI. I’ve been reconnecting with the alumni. I know we are going to have great support. This program has a very proud history. Iowa is a great state that obviously cares about wrestling. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Schwab hired his older brother, two-time UNI All-American Mark Schwab, as his No. 1 assistant. Mark Schwab was a top international wrestler before his career was severely hampered by a staph infection in his knee.

“It’s huge to have Mark on board – I know what he brings to the table,” Doug said. “His commitment and his loyalty are big factors, plus I know he can coach. He won’t be afraid to question me. He is excited and fired up, and that’s very important for me.”

Schwab comes to Northern Iowa after being an assistant at Iowa the past four seasons. The Hawkeyes have won the last three NCAA titles. Schwab was an NCAA champion during his wrestling career at Iowa.

Schwab lost to Jared Frayer, his training partner at the 2008 Olympics, in the U.S. Open. Frayer went on to win his first U.S. Open title and advanced to the best-of-3 finals at the Trials.

“Frayer is very tough, and we’ve obviously wrestled each other a lot,” Schwab said. “I got caught in positions at the Open where Frayer is good and I gave up some points. I need to increase the frequency of my attack rate and convert. I didn’t feel very good about my performance at all at the Open. I know I can wrestle a lot better.”

Schwab will have to battle it out in the Challenge Tournament to gain another shot at Frayer in the finals of the Trials. Among the top competitors in the Challenge Tournament will be 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Josh Churella and 2009 U.S. Open runner-up Brent Metcalf.

Schwab coached Metcalf at Iowa, and also beat him at last year’s Trials.

“Metcalf is a hell of a competitor, and you have to be ready to battle him the entire time,” Schwab said. “Churella looks tough as well. There are some good wrestlers in this weight class. I look forward to it. I know I have to raise my level against those guys.

“I will be ready to go. I’m excited about this opportunity.”
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