Sept. 22, 2009
HERNING, Denmark -- United States World Team member Jake Herbert won his first four matches at the 2009 Wrestling World Championships in Herning, Denmark, becoming the only American representative in any of the seven gold-medal matches. Facing Zaurbek Sokhiev of Uzbekistan, Herbert pushed the final bout to overtime before falling in the clincher round (1-0, 1-0) to come away with a silver medal.
Sokhiev had previously won a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships.
The clincher round in freestyle wrestling begins with what is in effect a coin toss to determine which wrestler will be on the attack to start the period. If the attacking wrestler does not score on his opponent within 30 seconds, the defensive wrestler wins the match.
Herbert lost the coin toss and surrendered a score to Sokhiev halfway through the clincher period, giving the gold in the 84-kg (185 pound) weight class to Sokhiev.
“It stinks, having to stand on the podium with a silver medal. I came in here to win a gold medal and I believed I could do it,” Herbert said. “Seeing that other guy’s flag go up and hearing that other guy’s anthem being played, and then seeing him get a World Championships belt, that gives me something to shoot for next year. I didn’t know the champion got a belt. I want that belt.”
"For Jake to reach the finals in his first trip to the World Championships is just an unbelievable accomplishment, it's really hard to even describe," said Northwestern head coach Tim Cysewski. "These are the same guys he'll be competing against when he tries to make and win the Olympics four years from now. To lose in overtime in the finals the way he did, you can't come any closer than that."
Herbert's journey to the finals from a field of 37 wrestlers was an incredible one, beginning with his opening-round defeat of Germany's Davyd Bichinashvili, the fifth-place freestyle finisher at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After that, Herbert overcame Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan), Gokhan Yavaser (Turkey) and Abdusalam Gadisov (Russia)--the reigning Russian national champion--to set up his meeting with Sokhiev in the finals.
Tuesday's matches represented a culmination of months of training at US Olympic Training Centers as well as Overtime Wrestling in Naperville for Herbert, who qualified for the World Championships on June 1 with his first-place finish at the US World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Herbert's silver medal performance caps a memorable 2009 for the native of Wexford, Pa. He graduated from Northwestern in June following his record-setting career at NU during which he won two NCAA championships and the 2009 Hodge Trophy in addition to becoming one of the most consistent winners in NCAA history with a career record of 149-4.
Wildcat fans have the opportunity to salute Herbert for his accomplishments both on the collegiate and world stage when he is honored during halftime of Northwestern's football game against Penn State on Oct. 31 at Ryan Field.