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Frayer's Olympic dream comes with a price tag

The former Countryside standout and Oklahoma All-American needs funding.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2003


A wrestler since the age of 5, Jared Frayer has won at every level.

He was an AAU champion when he was 12, a high school state champion at Countryside when he was 15 and an NCAA All-American at the University of Oklahoma when he was 19.

Now, Frayer wants to win at the highest level possible: the Olympics.

"Ever since I was a little kid, every step I took on the mat was to get to this point," Frayer said of his pursuit to make the U.S. Olympic team. "I remember watching the wrestlers in the 1984 Olympics and saying to myself, 'That is what I want to do some day.'

"I'm in the position to do that now and I'm focusing all my time and energy to get it done."

After completing his collegiate career with a runner-up finish at the NCAA tournament in March, Frayer, 23, graduated in May and started working on his goal. He trains twice a day and competes vigorously in tournaments around the world.

In December, Frayer placed third at a tournament in New York City. He will compete in tournaments in Canada, Russia, Colorado Springs and Las Vegas in the next four months before heading to the World Trials in Indianapolis in June.

"I think it's more mental than anything else trying to make it," Frayer said. "We're all so close with everyone and we're just making little steps to get any edge we can get."

In a sport in which most of the elite competitors have been participating since childhood, Frayer has the credentials to vie for an Olympic berth in 2004.

The only thing he does not have is the money.

That has been his biggest handicap. The Sunkist Kids wrestling club has given its endorsement to Frayer and pays for his traveling expenses for tournaments. Oklahoma gives him a stipend as an assistant coach.

But that doesn't pay all the bills. The rest of his backing comes from private donations.

"This has basically become his full-time job and he has to find ways to support himself," said Dave Frayer, Jared's father who's also the coach at Countryside. "You still need to be able to come up with rent and be able to put food on the table."

Frayer's resourcefulness is being challenged. He conducted a clinic in St. Cloud in November and was home to help his father put on a clinic last month.

He also has sold T-shirts bearing his nickname, Air Frayer, and will have his own Web site, www.jaredfrayer.com, within the next two weeks.

"I'm not a big fan of self-promotion and I'm having a hard time selling myself," Frayer said. "You have to take away some of your humility and ask people for money to help support your dream.

"I know it's hard for other people to see the dividends in giving money. This is a sport that's not judged game-to-game but every four years. Hopefully, it pays off for me and I can live my dream."

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