Jake Herbert heads to his first Olympics after winning at the 2012 U.S. Wrestling Team Trials. The former two-time NCAA champion has been considered one of Team USA’s best prospects since he came onto the scene as a wrestler at Northwestern.
Who were your role models growing up and when did you first fall in love with the sport?
I fell in love with the sport at a very early age. I loved wrestling as a kid. I’d say my father and Don Rodgers were two. I’ve always wanted to be a great wrestler like that. It was great to be able to grow up and have those guys as big role models.
Do you prepare yourself mentally and physically differently on the national than you did at the collegiate level?
Same exact way, except harder, more intense, more focused.
How hard were you pushed in your youth programs and how do you think that’s affected your success?
Well, my father’s nickname in high school, given by the wrestling team, was Lucifer. You know when one of your parents is pushing you through that sport, they’re always going to make it hard for everybody else and a little bit harder for you. My father had me working construction during the summer and he would give me the tough jobs. There’s 500 sheets of plywood, move them inside. It was tough, but it made everything on the mat that much easier.
Wrestling fans are hardcore fans. How has that been to bear the brunt of all of that?
It’s awesome. I love wrestling fans. It’s a small community, but we’re so tight-knit. When one person gets hurt or injured, everyone is ready to help out. I couldn’t be where I am without the help of the fans and the support that I’ve received from the wrestling community. Being able to go through a practice bleeding, sweating and wrestling with everybody else, it brings you closer and forms a bond that will never be broken.
What were some of the sacrifices you made to get where you are?
I put off my life. I have a communication degree from Northwestern. I was planning on getting that degree to use it. Not just that – the events, the concerts – I haven’t had a summer since I graduated. And this one is the same way. I’m not going to have a summer. I feel like this is worth it. There will be so many more summers and time down the road that I’ll be able to do that and look back and be glad that I put the work in. Hopefully I’ll be doing all those things with a gold medal around my neck.
What’s your training regimen? And what’s your favorite strength exercise?
We lift three times a week. We wrestle seven times a week. We do cardio handball two times a week. That’s a lot in one week. I love pull-ups. I love handball – it’s awesome for cardio – it gets physical. I think that’s the most fun I have now in Ann Arbor.