Silver medalist Jake Herbert shoots for Olympic gold at 185 pounds

Updated: July 10, 2012

By Mike Finn

(Editor’s Note: This is the ninth of 11 weekly previews of this summer’s Olympics in London. In last week’s WIN eNews, we looked at the 163-pound weight class in men’s freestyle after first examining the 121-, 132- and 145.5-pound weight class in men’s freestyle and all the women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman classes in previous weeks. Next week, WIN will preview the sixth of seven men’s freestyle weight classes — 211.5 pounds — before the start of the Games on August 5. A complete preview of America’s entries in London can be found at

84 kilos / 185 pounds (Competition held Aug. 11)

U.S. Entry:Jake Herbert, 27, North Allegheny, Pa.

In his first Worlds competition in 2009, Jake Herbert (right) reached the finals before losing to Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan in Herning, Denmark.

After losing his U.S. National team spot to 2004 Olympic gold medalist — and current Penn State head coach — Cael Sanderson for last year’s World Championships, the former 2009 World silver medalist regained his spot and will compete in his first Olympic Games.

Prior to this experience, Herbert’s best year came in 2009. He won his second NCAA championship for Northwestern — the first came in 2007 before he took an Olympic redshirt in 2008 – and was honored with the Hodge Trophy before he earned a spot on the 2009 World Team … and earned the silver medal at the Worlds in Herning, Denmark.

Herbert won his first five matches — including a second-round win over eventual 2011 World champion Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan — during those Worlds before falling to Zaurbek Sokhiev of Uzebekistan in the gold-medal match. Unfortunately, one year later in Moscow, Herbert wrestled in one match and lost to Cuban Reineri Salas, who also defeated American Andy Hrovat in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

In the 2011 World Team Trials, Herbert lost his spot to Sanderson, who came out of a seven-year retirement and eventually finished fifth in last September’s Worlds in Istanbul, Turkey. (Sanderson won four bouts there but lost to eventual champion Sharifov in a second-round bout and to Russian Albert Saritov of Russia in the bronze-medal match.)

Herbert, who signed with Cliff Keen Wrestling since the Trials, now makes his home Ann Arbor, Mich., where he also trains with Sean Bormet, a current Michigan assistant.

Before coming to Northwestern, where Herbert became the Wildcats’ first two-time NCAA champ since Jack Riley in 1931 and 1932 and first four-time All-American, he won the 2003 Pennsylvania state championship for North Allegheny High School.


Top Medal Challengers

• Sharif Sharifov, Azerbaijan — After earning a bronze medal at the 2009 Worlds — where his only loss to was to American Jake Herbert — the current 23-year-old did not compete in the 2010 Worlds. But he did come back to become the most dominant man at this weight last September. He won his first World gold medal in Istanbul, where his second-round win was against American Cael Sanderson.

• Zaurbek Sokhiev, Uzebekistan — This marks the second Olympics for Sokheiv, who split two matches in Beijing and failed to place. In the next two years, he collected a gold medal (2009) and silver (2010) at the Worlds before failing to place last fall in Turkey. There he split two matches and was eliminated by Russia’s Albert Saritov, who also defeated Sanderson in the bronze-medal match.

• Ibragim Aldatov, Ukraine — Since winning a World championship in 2006, the 28-year-old Ukrainian has been a mainstay at such World-level events and added a World silver medal in 2007 and 2011 as well as a bronze medal in 2009 and a fifth-place finish at the 2010 Worlds. Aldatov also competed in the 2008 Olympics, but only competed in one match; los