NORMAN — Former Oklahoma wrestlers Sam Hazewinkel and Jared Frayer will see a lifelong dream come to fruition when they wrestle for Team USA at the London Olympics on Aug. 5.
Hazewinkel burst with pride and excitement when he talked about what it means to him to wrestle for his country. He tried out for the Olympic squad in 2004 and 2008 but fell just short each time.
“For me, this is the pinnacle,” Hazewinkel said. “This is your chance to say you're the best in the world. Not very many people can say that in anything, much less in the sport.”
Hazewinkel graduated from OU in 2007, finished second at the 2007 NCAA Championships and was a four-time All-American. He had no thoughts of quitting the sport after his collegiate career was over and was able to win gold at the 2012 Pan American Games.
He said he's sacrificed a lot to reach this point in his career, but he expected nothing less.
“We're not in it making money,” Hazewinkel said. “We're in it because we love what we do.”
Frayer, 33, agreed with Hazewinkel.
“God gave me this ability to wrestle and I wasn't gonna take it for granted because I could still compete at this level at this age,” Frayer said.
Frayer is a 2002 graduate of OU and an assistant coach for the university's wrestling team. He's the father of an 18-month-old, and his wife is scheduled to give birth to another child while he competes in the Olympics.
He doesn't begrudge his sacrifice.
“It's a life commitment that I made a long time ago,” he said. “It's a goal that I've had for a long time.”
Frayer said being an assistant coach has helped him stay in shape and continue to compete at an elite level. He routinely spends time on the mat with All-Americans.
“If it wasn't for the opportunity of being a collegiate coach at the different places that I've been at, I couldn't be doing this,” he said.
Both men were grateful for the support they've had from OU, as both spent the last year training in Norman. Neither of them is taking this opportunity for granted, and both are traveling to London with winning gold in mind.
“I get to wrestle for the USA, not just OU, not just Oklahoma,” Hazewinkel said. “I'm wrestling for the USA and I got people that are interested and wondering how we do.
“This is it. This is what you dream of. This is the chance of a lifetime.”