This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
American Nick Simmons placed fifth in freestyle wrestling at 55 kg/121 lbs. at the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Larry Slater photo

Simmons still chasing gold By Craig Sesker

Nick Simmons has done some of the best wrestling of his life over the past two years.

In that time, he has beaten a World champion, an Olympic gold medalist and a wrestler who went on to capture an Olympic bronze medal in 2012. Simmons broke through to make his first U.S. World Team in freestyle wrestling in 2011. He advanced to the semifinals of the World Championships before placing fifth in Istanbul, Turkey. He carried that momentum into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this past April where he earned a dramatic win in a wild semifinal bout against 2008 Olympic champion Henry Cejudo.

Simmons then won the first match of the best-of-3 finals over Sam Hazewinkel at 55 kg/121 lbs. But Hazewinkel rallied to win two straight matches and earn a trip to London for the 2012 Olympics. “I went from a pretty big high to a pretty

big low,” Simmons said. “It takes a toll on you. It was devastating. It was heart- breaking. To put all your time into it and do everything it takes to get there, and then see someone else make the team was pretty difficult.” That setback in April is one of the main reasons Simmons, who just turned 30, plans to keep wrestling as the new four- year Olympic cycle begins. “I will be back for sure,” he said. “I know I still have more to give. I know I can go out there and medal for the U.S.” Simmons, a four-time All-American for Michigan State, is back in the Big Ten Conference as an assistant coach at Indiana. He had previously trained at Oregon State.

“I’m glad to be back in the Midwest,” he said. “I’m close to home and my wife is close to home. I like being back in the Big

20 USA Wrestler

Nick Simmons defeats Japan’s Shinichi Yumoto in 2011. Larry Slater photo.

Ten. It was hard leaving those guys at Oregon State. I really appreciate every- thing they did for me.”

Simmons and Cejudo put on a show during their back-and-forth bout at the Olympic Trials. It was considered the best match of an entertaining Olympic Trials. Simmons pulled out a hard-fought 3-0, 5-9, 5-2 win over Cejudo.

The boisterous sellout crowd of 13,000- plus fans at Iowa City’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena stood and cheered as Simmons had his hand raised in victory. “That match was so exciting and fun,” Simmons said. “We were both scoring points, and that’s what wrestling is all about. You could really feel the crowd and how excited they were.”

U.S. National Coach Zeke Jones has worked closely with Simmons for a num-

ber of years. Both have been affiliated with the Sunkist Kids.

“I think Nick still has some good wrestling left in him,” Jones said. “He’s beaten some of the best guys in the World. He’s certainly capable of compet- ing for a medal.”

Simmons has continued to train, but he is not sure when he will compete again. “I am letting my body heal up and everything, but I will definitely be back on the mat competitively,” he said. “I don’t want to be one of these guys who looks back 10 years from now and wishes they would’ve kept wrestling.

“I was very close to being in the finals at the Worlds, and I was very close to making the Olympic Team. I know I can still compete and I know I can still win. I want to win a gold medal.”

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44