“The Summer of Hazewinkel” has now stretched into the fall.
When Sam Hazewinkel‘s (55 kg, Sunkist) journey to the 2018 World Championships began in April at the US Open, he probably wasn’t too sure what to expect. He had just accepted the head coaching job at Oklahoma City University, knew that he would need to manage time with his family, and figure out a way to pull his 35-year-old body through two more months of training leading to the World Team Trials — and then four more months if he made the Team.
Well, Hazewinkel did make the Team. And now, nearly six months after his somewhat-snap decision to re-enter the competitive biosphere, he is knocking on the door of the Budapest Worlds as a man at peace and satisfied with the juggling act it took to reach this point unscathed.
Throughout Hazewinkel’s time as a member of the 2018 US Greco-Roman World Team, he has been completely forthright in revealing his thought process and experiences each and every step of the way. Why would it change now? As he prepares to join the American delegation in Hungary this week (the flight leaves tomorrow), we huddled for one more conversation. There will be another after this — there has to be. Hazewinkel’s perspectives have provided equal measures entertainment and education, two areas United States Greco-Roman could always use more of, particularly when delivered with the humility and honesty the Oklahoman can’t help but dish out.
Sam Hazewinkel — 55 kg, Sunkist
5PM: Following World Team Camp in Springs until now, the beginning of the definitive homestretch, how have you customized your workouts for this part of the training cycle?
Sam Hazewinkel: I had about a week after I got home from Colorado Springs to rest and then I started my final phase. I want to say it was about five weeks out. That’s what I wanted to do. It used to be six weeks, it just felt like five weeks was better. I got a nice little rest there and then I finally got to open up. I had very much been holding myself back this whole time trying to stay healthy and not overtrain. It was fun to finally open up, to really push myself training. It has been fun getting back to that. I feel like my shape is way better.
It’s kind of crazy, because I’ve had injuries but it hasn’t been my body, it has been all teeth. I had a bunch of crazy stuff go down with my teeth. I had to get a filling and then somehow an infection got in there. In turn, I had to get a root canal and a couple of extractions. It’s been crazy with that, but it was all stuff I’d rather get done now. You don’t want to need a root canal during the World Championships.
So, I was glad to get it out of the way and it actually worked out well for my training. I was so gung-ho to go hard, but when they first had to take out the filling and drill and redo it, I was dead exhausted. I went Monday and Tuesday super hard, doing two-a-days working hard, and I was so exhausted on Wednesday. I didn’t recover like I needed to, but the next day was Thursday and I was going to go right back at it, because that’s what you do to get in shape. But I woke up and just couldn’t. My mouth was done, I needed to get it taken care of. But I think it was a good thing. It forced me to rest a little bit. And then just last week I had the root canal, on Thursday again. Same thing for Monday and Tuesday — but I knew about Thursday this time — so on Wednesday I got to work out.
It worked out really well. I feel great right now. I have a bunch of energy, my weight is great. I did a 20-minute sprint the other day, stair sprints. It felt great, it felt like I could have gone another 20. Always, well not always, but these last few years that’s what lets me know, I’m ready. My base-shape is good enough to go a match. If I can go 20 minutes on the stairs, I can go a match. I’m ready.
I’m really happy with where I’m at. I’m going to go hard Monday and Tuesday just because I know that Wednesday is a travel day, and then usually my first day overseas is a recovery day. I’ll have two days to kind of recover. And from there, it’ll just be getting my weight down.
Personally, I like missing it; I don’t like getting on the mat the week before a tournament. I want that itch. I want to have that itch of trying to get on the mat. I’m really happy with where I’m at prior to getting on the flight Wednesday. It seems like the game plan worked well. It might have been a little much, but with the way everything worked out, it went perfect. If I had made it a little lighter and had a bunch of teeth stuff I might not have gotten to where I needed to be. So, it all worked out really well.
5PM: With all of the responsibilities you have between your family and OCU, you’ve had to limit your time with the World Team. Germany was a pop-in, World Team camp you did the first week. Now they have been in Hungary for almost two weeks. Does any part of you feel left out?
SH: The Team side of it, I don’t like that I’m not there with the Team. I like the idea of us becoming a stronger unit. There’s a definite strength that comes from that at tournaments. When you have a good group of guys and you do a month overseas together, you become good buddies and you gain strength from that, so I don’t like missing it.
The training overseas doesn’t bother me a whole lot. When you get older you become a little selfish in your way of doing things. I like that I got to do my own training over here. And then obviously, a month away from my family would have been incredibly difficult. I wouldn’t have done it even if I didn’t have a job. It would have been a point of contention. But with the job, I haven’t even been there six months to miss a month.
The other side of it I think worked out a lot better. The only part I really miss out on is the Team aspect. I like to be there for the guys and gain strength from that.
5PM: You’re just a few days from arriving in Hungary. You’ve traveled for events hundreds of times seemingly. When you get there, do you switch modes right away?
SH: Yeah, I think so. Normally in the past I never had a job, so the switch was kind of always on. This time it hasn’t been like that at all. It’s like, Turn it on at practice; and then turn it off to get things done. I’ve loved that part of it, but I’m excited about being able to turn that switch on and not having a bunch of things that need to get done.
The last two weeks have been stressful but I think I’ve gotten 90% of the things done that I needed to for the weeks I’m gone, although it’s probably more like 70% because something always comes up. But I feel like I did a good job to where I’m not going to have a bunch of weight on my shoulders. I don’t have a bunch of things to get done, like emails and this and that. I got all of that done. I had a bunch of help, so thank you to those people.
Now I am going to get to focus, which I have not been able to do yet for a whole day, to just be in the moment the whole day and not just for a couple of hours. It’s still crazy to me that I’m leaving Wednesday. It’s coming up fast. I’m excited, I’m really excited. It’s going to be like a vacation, which it has never felt that way with a trip overseas. It never felt that way, and this one does a little bit. I’m going to get to do what I love, I’m not going to have a bunch of things that need to get done everyday, and I’m excited about it.
5PM: Is there one thing more than another you’re looking forward to about competing in this World Championships?
Sam Hazewinkel: Oooh.. No, I don’t think so. Nothing really stands out, but like I said, I haven’t really had the chance to sit down and think about it. If I’m having time to daydream I am going through my match strategy, going through scenarios, up by a point or down by a point. I haven’t really digested it all yet, which is kind of crazy. But I think it’s good, I think it’s a good thing. Or at least that’s how I’m going to look at it, as a good thing. Ask me again in a couple of days and maybe I can answer that better.
I don’t know. I know this is getting near the end. I’m not promised another opportunity. That is very much the way it was training when I was younger. I think everyone goes through that. You barely lose and a part of your saving grace is, I’m going to get it next year. I was so close this year, but next year I got it. Partly being older, partly being wiser, and partly my body, I know there is no promise for tomorrow.
So I am excited about going out and laying it all out there, and being able to be done. If I need to be done, I’m done. I like that part of it a lot. I don’t know if that stands out more than anything else, but that is something new for me that I’m excited about.
Sam Hazewinkel competes at the World Championships beginning on Thursday, October 25th.