Tervel Dlagnev only started wrestling in high school. But that hasn’t stopped him from earning a place on the U.S. men’s freestyle team at the 2012 Olympics, competing at 120 kg/264.5 pounds on Aug. 12.
Despite that late start — late, at least, compared to most Olympic wrestlers who first took to the mats in grade school or earlier — Dlagnev has more than made a name for himself, first in college, then in international competition.
A two-time NCAA Division II champ, Dlagnev, 26, is a three-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games (2010-2012) who won the bronze medal at the 2009 World championships.
High school/college experience: Growing up in Arlington, Texas, Dlagnev placed fourth at the 2002 state championships in only his second year of wrestling, then placed third in 2003. Dlagnev wrestled at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he was a four-time NCAA Division II All-American, winning the heavyweight title in 2007 and 2008. He was also a 2006 Midlands champ.
How Dlagnev made the U.S. Olympic team: At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City in April, Tervel Dlagnev defeated college rival Les Sigman (who wrestled at for the now-defunct program at University of Nebraska-Omaha) in two straight matches. Dlagnev beat Sigman, 3-0, 4-0, in the first match, then 1-0, 2-0 in the second.
Dlagnev has been a member of Team USA for four years. He’s affiliated with the Sunkist Kids wrestling club.
Top contenders: Mike Finn, editor of W.I.N. (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine), named these wrestlers as top competitors at 120 kg: Russia’s Biylal Makhov (two-time World champion), Alesksei Shermarov of Belarus (2011 World gold medalist), and Greece’s Ioannis Arzoumanidis (two-time World bronze medalist).
Sports Illustrated’s medal predictions: Gold medal: Biylal Makhov (Russia); Silver: Tervel Dlagnev (USA); Bronze: Ioannis Arzoumanidis (Greece) and Alexei Shermarov (Belarus).
BleacherReport.com’s Levi Nile medal predictions: Gold medal: Biylal Makhov (Russia); Silver: Tervel Dlagnev (USA).
Get to know the U.S. Olympic wrestlers: USA Wrestling has produced an online guide for the 2012 Olympics, featuring bios, info and videos of Team USA wrestlers, and their coaches. Also check out College Wrestling Examiner’s weight-by-weight previews.
Follow the action at home: Live streaming coverage of wrestling will be available online at NBCOlympics.com as well as on various NBC TV networks. For a more detailed schedule (including handy chart to help you convert London time to yours), check out the schedule page at TheMat.com.
Want to know more? Check out the schedule for wrestling at the 2012 Olympics. TheMat.com has a special Olympics page with wrestler bios, profiles, news stories. InterMat also has an Olympics page, with brackets, photos and news and notes. For basic facts about Olympic wrestling, take a look at the “How To Watch Wrestling” primer at the NBC Chicago website, and NBCOlympics for specifics on the rules.
Want to meet past U.S. Olympic gold medalists of the mat? Check out the series of articles in College Wrestling 101 for brief bios on the 47 U.S. wrestlers who brought home gold between 1908 and 2008. To learn even more, you’ll want to read the brand-new book The Gold Standard, featured in a College Wrestling Examiner article from April 2012.
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College Wrestling 101: Links to College Wrestling Examiner articles answering basic questions about wrestling, including rules, scoring, uniforms, past U.S. Olympic gold medalists, more
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