Missouri wrestlers chase Olympic dreams

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | 9:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:50 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 10, 2011
Missouri's Dom Bradley won his division at the 2009 Junior World Freestyle Championships in Turkey, making him the top junior heavyweight wrestler in the world.

COLUMBIA – Although neither Dom Bradley nor Todd Schavrien started wrestling because it was something he wanted to do, both have come to love the sport. And they're two of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country.

Now, both aspire to reach the highest level of wrestling. And both want to represent the United States in the Olympics.

Growing up in Blue Springs, Bradley, a junior heavyweight at MU, only started wrestling in third grade because his dad made him join a wrestling team.

“I didn’t really like it until I got to high school, and I was on my own,” Bradley said. “It’s more, if you want to be good then be good on your own.”

He could have chosen to play other sports, such as basketball and football, as he got older, but he stuck with wrestling.

“I don’t know why I chose wrestling. I was too short to play basketball, and I didn’t like running, so I didn’t do football. But I should’ve done football, because wrestling is so much running,” Bradley said.

He probably made the right choice. In 2009, he won the Junior Freestyle World Championship in Turkey, making him the top junior heavyweight wrestler in the world.

He also placed third at the Senior World Team Trials and fourth at the U.S. Senior Nationals in his weight class, putting him in decent position to make the Olympic team.

“He’s already a contender for the Olympic team coming up in 2012,” said Gary Abbott, director of communications for USA Wrestling. “Dom’s already proven that he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world at his weight class.”

When he is on the wrestling mat, he enjoys the isolation of the one-on-one match. When he is not wrestling, he enjoys watching different sports. Although he didn’t choose to play basketball or football, he still loves to watch them on TV.

“I’m a sports junkie,” Bradley said. “I like the Lakers. They’re my favorite basketball team.”

He also enjoys sports video games. He said he plays any basketball or football video game, along with "Fight Night" — a series of boxing video games.

In Poway, Calif., Todd Schavrien, a senior 141-pounder at Missouri, also didn’t decide to start wrestling on his own.

He said he started wrestling at age 6 because his best friend was involved in wrestling and his dad had wrestled in high school. But over time, the sport became more endearing to him.

“It kind of became a passion,” he said.

His other passion is wakeboarding. When school is out for the summer, Schavrien can usually be found on a beach in California with a wakeboard or a surfboard.

“Out of season, I like to wakeboard a lot. It’s pretty much all I do in the summer,” he said. “In season, I can’t really do that because I’m afraid I’m going to get hurt.”

As Schavrien puts the finishing touches on a strong senior season, he’s not focused on the Olympics quite yet.

Missouri head coach Brian Smith said Schavrien has a good chance of winning a national title in the 141-pound weight class.

Abbott agrees that Schavrien is one of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country. However, he added that he needs to get more Olympic-style experience.

“When he’s done with college wrestling, he needs to concentrate on freestyle wrestling,” Abbott said.

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