Wrestling is grueling. There is no other way to characterize it. Training is intense. Weight loss is exacting. Matches are exhausting.
Considering how difficult it is to make an Olympic team -- the program has been trimmed to seven weight classes, compared to 14 in high school -- there is little incentive for a wrestler to compete beyond college. Unless you are Reece Humphrey.
As far as the 24-year-old is concerned, he is getting to the fun part: freestyle wrestling. "The hard part for me was getting through the college season," he said. "I've always been better at freestyle."
Humphrey, a three-time state champion at Lawrence North, was no flop at Ohio State. He was an NCAA runner-up and two-time All-American.
But he was never a national champion. Now, he is.
He won the U.S. Open at 132 pounds earlier this month at Cleveland, beating the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the process. If he wins again in next month's world team trials at Oklahoma City, he will represent the United States in September's World Championships at Istanbul, Turkey.
College, or folkstyle, wrestling rewards controlling an opponent. In freestyle, the sport is based more on neutral positions. Humphrey said folkstyle emphasizes his weaknesses and freestyle his strengths.
He said he is "not good on the mat." He has won silver and bronze medals in freestyle at the World University Games.
"It's all exciting right now," Humphrey said. "It's all new. It's fun to climb up the ranks and go through all that again, being the underdog guy. It's all fun."
Humphrey is at a Columbus, Ohio, training center, as is former Edinboro University wrestler Shawn Bunch. The No. 3-seeded Humphrey upset the top-seeded Bunch 0-4, 1-0, 2-0 in the national final to earn the top spot in the world trials.
Bunch must advance through a mini-tournament for another shot at Humphrey. Even if Humphrey wins again, Bunch has a chance to secure a world spot by out-medaling his training partner in a post-trials international meet.
All are steps toward what Humphrey hopes will be a spot on the 2012 Olympic team. His father, Jim, was a world silver medalist but was knocked out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics by the U.S.-led boycott. For Reece to compete at London would be to complete unfinished family business.
"That would be fantastic," Jim Humphrey said.
IU Olympian resumes jumping
Former Indiana University triple jumper Aarik Wilson competed Saturday for the first time since the 2008 Olympics. Wilson, 28, who missed two seasons because of injuries, used a shortened approach and won at IU's Polytan Invitational with a distance of 51 feet, 11/2 inches.
IU graduate Molly Beckwith broke her own track record in the women's 800 meters with a time of 2 minutes, 1.49 seconds -- fastest outdoors by an American this year and No. 3 in the world. IU junior Breanne Ehrman (Westfield) won the steeplechase in 10:19.10, third in the Big Ten this year.
Elsewhere in track and field:
Cory Martin (Edgewood) was fourth in the shot put at the Kansas Relays at 67-113/4, also No. 4 in the world.
Purdue's Shane Crawford (10.37 for 100 meters) and Geoff Davis (7-3 high jump) posted Big Ten-leading marks Sunday in the Jesse Owens Classic at Columbus, Ohio. Davis (Lawrence Central) broke a seven-year-old facility record.
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