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Jared Frayer has dealt with enough disappointment when it comes to his wrestling career. And one might be quick to add a first-round loss in the 2012 Olympics to that list; something that happened in London Sunday morning when Ali Shabanau of Belarus defeated the 145.5-pound American, 3-0, 1-0, in the ExCel Arena.
But Frayer, who recently enjoyed the birth of his second child and is the father of a two-year-old child with Down Syndrome, has learned to put life in perspective … and will still leave London with a positive attitude.
“I’m still a very blessed man,” said Frayer, the former Oklahoma All-American who earned his first World-level membership after coming up short many times in recent years. “I know how much the coaches put into me. I know how good I was feeling. I just ran into an unorthodox guy and didn’t wrestle the way I was capable of. It’s hard.
Shabanau opened the match with a leg attack against Frayer for a point 24 seconds into the period. He then gutted Frayer for two points 13 seconds later, and held onto the 3-0 period win.
“I knew that single-leg was coming,” Frayer said. “I’m pretty comfortable wrestling from that front headlock. But so are these foreigners. They’re very good at defending. And then I gave up too good of position on that gut. And then I was able to shut him down and stat working on my offense. He’s a defensive wrestler and I couldn’t open him up in the second period.”
There was very little action in the second, with the exception off a scramble on the edge in the final 15 seconds of the period. In the ball pull, Frayer chose his own color and the leg-clinch advantage. After the whistle, Frayer backed out to a low single with his lock around Shabanau’s lower leg. Shabanau was able to slip out Frayer’s grasp seven seconds into the 30-second set, and then threw Frayer out of chest-to-chest body at 2:23 to advance with the 1-0 win.
“In the ball draw, I just lost my head,” Frayer said. “That’s not where I finish my clinch. It’s unacceptable. I clinched on the opposite leg from where I had practiced in the last six months. I just felt like I was going to be more comfortable on him on that side. I have to stick with what I know and I know better than that.”
“That’s a good kid,” U.S. Olympic coach John Smith said of Shabanau. “Jared just made a mistake out of the clinch. He had the leg up and then dropped the leg.”
Frayer was eventually eliminated when Shabanau lost his next match to Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan.
So what will Frayer’s Olympic experience mean to him?
“It was an awesome opportunity,” said Frayer, who is an assistant coach at Oklahoma University. “I felt like I was the best guy for a long time. It’s frustrating … it’s kind of been my career to this point.
“I made the team, that’s awesome. But I didn’t come here to do what I came here to do. I’ll continue to press that upon my athletes in the future. I hope to work with USA Wrestling for a long time to come, and to coach at a number of these.”