Jake Herbert at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials earlier this year. (Matthew Stockman / Getty…)
LONDON – A late rally carried Jake Herbert to a first-round victory in the Olympic 185-pound freestyle wrestling class Saturday at the ExCel arena.
Herbert lost the first round and trailed Cuba’s Humberto Arencibia by a point with 11 seconds left in the third round when he scored the decisive takedown to advance.
With his friends and family waving yellow “terrible towels” in homage to their Pittsburgh area roots, Herbert lost the first round 4-1, then took the second 8-0, nearly pinning Arencibia twice. Although the third round ended in a tie, Herbert advanced by having scored last.
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Herbert, 2009 world silver medalist, had beaten Arencibia for the gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Herbert, a four-time All-American at Northwestern, meets reigning world champion Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan in the second round.
Herbert came into the match with a 2-0 record against Sharifov, although they did not meet in 2011. The Azerbaijani beat U.S. wrestling great Carl Sanderson in the second round of the 2011 worlds.
“Jake has had great preparation,” said Zeke Jones, USA Wrestling’s national freestyle coach. We had him wrestle a lot of foreigners last week. That will make a big difference. He needed to get that foreign feel in competition. That will pay off at the end.”
Wrestling has a blind draw, meaning the top two in a weight class can meet in the first round. Herbert is in the tougher half of the bracket.
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