By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Before fashioning his new black singlet Nov. 9, Jacob Warner is stepping out one more time in his red, white, and blue summer attire.
The University of Iowa redshirt freshman continues his pursuit of a gold medal Saturday and Sunday at the UWW Junior World Championships in Trnava, Slovakia.
Warner is the United States’ 92 kg representative on the Junior World Team. He earned the spot by running through a pair of qualifiers. He won the USAW Junior Freestyle National tournament in April, outscoring four opponents 41-0, and dominated the best-of-three World Team Trials in May, defeating John Borst by consecutive 10-0, 11-0 technical falls.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Warner said the last four months have been spent developing new offense and “becoming a better well-rounded wrestler.”
“I’ve been making myself feel good, making sure my shots are crisp, making sure everything is clicking,” Warner said. “The axe is sharpened, it’s time to cut down the trees and make sure everything is in place.”
The trip overseas is Warner’s second on the World Championship age-level circuit. He was a bronze medalist at the 2016 Cadet World Championships. He also made a trip to Russia in January, posting a 1-1 mark at the Golden Grand Prix Ivan Yarygin tournament. Both trips proved to be opportunities for growth.
“I’m more familiar with how they wrestle,” Warner said. “The first time I went overseas I was a little shell shocked because I had never competed overseas before. Having done that, and then having gone back overseas last January, I feel like I’ll be ready.”
His preparation has also included scraps with senior level wrestlers Sammy Brooks, Nathan Burak, and Bobby Telford.
Telford was a three-time All-American heavyweight. He’s bigger than the opponents Warner will see in Slovakia, but the difference between the two doesn’t creep very far beyond the scale.
“He has by far some of the heaviest hands I’ve felt from a guy, especially that size,” said Telford. “He really does feel like a heavyweight when he gets his hands on you.”
Warner’s size has not fluctuated much since committing to Iowa in 2016 as the nation’s top-ranked 195-pounder, but the consensus in the Iowa wrestling room is he’s stronger, smarter, and has steadily improved his endurance.
“From high school to today, the difference is he (used to have) a big 4534 motor with a little carburetor and a little air filter, so the gas would go quick,” Telford said. “Now he has an upgraded air filter, upgraded fuel injectors, and he’s ready to rock and roll. He has that big time horsepower.”
With big times goals, both short term and long term, that horsepower is a must.
“The goal is to be a World champion and continue the tradition of excellence here at Iowa,” Warner said. “I want to be a guy they say came in, did the work, and accomplished all he wanted because he put in the work. Just continuing the tradition and making this program go up, which is what we’ve been doing the past few years. I’m pretty excited about it.”
2018 JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Warner’s Schedule (CENTRAL Time)
Watch Live on TrackWrestling
Saturday, Sept. 22
3:30 a.m. – Qualification rounds (men’s FS 61 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 92 kg, 125 kg)
10:15 a.m. – Semifinals (men’s FS 61 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 92 kg, 125 kg)
Sunday, Sept. 23
9 a.m. – Repechage (men’s FS 61 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 92 kg, 125 kg)
11 a.m. – Finals(men’s FS 61 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 92 kg, 125 kg)
U.S. men’s freestyle roster
57 kg: Daton Fix (Sand Springs, Okla./Titan Mercury WC/Cowboy RTC)
61 kg: Joshua Saunders (St. Louis, Mo./Titan Mercury WC)
65 kg: Domonick Demas (Dublin, Ohio/OKRTC)
70 kg: Brady Berge (Mantorville, Pa./Nittany Lion WC)
74 kg: Mekhi Lewis (Somerset, N.J./Southeast RTC)
79 kg: Aaron Brooks (Hagerstown, Md./USOTC)
86 kg: Lou Deprez (Hilton, N.Y./Bearcat WC)
92 kg: Jacob Warner (Washington, Ill./Hawkeye WC)
97 kg: Zach Elam (Kansas City, Mo./Team Central WC)
125 kg: Gable Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm)