The desire to compete at the highest level

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UVU wrestling assistant coach Erkin Tadzhimetov will compete in Olympic trials in April

The Utah Valley University wrestling team has come a long way from when the program first started in 2003.  They have had numerous wrestlers qualify for nationals and were even receiving votes for the Top-25 polls this season. Associate head coach Erkin Tadzhimetov is someone who has seen the program evolve since the beginning. Erkin is a native of Uzbekistan and was recruited to wrestle for UVU in the 2003 season by then-head coach Cody Sanderson. By the time he finished in 2005 he held the records for most single season victories and most career victories. Both records have since been passed and he currently is sixth on the all-time leaderboard for wins and fourth in single season victories.

Erkin prepped at Olympic Sport School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and was a nine-time National Champion and three-time World Junior Placer. He initially began wrestling at the collegiate level at Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas and was an NJCAA runner-up in 2003.

He graduated with a degree in Behavioral Science from UVU in 2007. Since graduating, he has had the privilege of helping some of the talented wrestlers here at UVU get the best out of themselves.

“It’s been good,” Erkin said. “I still train with Ben Kjar. From a coaching perspective when they get to that level, you’re just tweaking things here and there. Wrestlers like a Jade (Rauser), or a Chasen (Tolbert) or a Ben (Kjar) already know what they’re doing. You’re just making small adjustments.” ErkinTadzhimetov.MikeRichardson-1

Those tweaks and small adjustments have really paid off as every season since 2009 Erkin has helped at least one wrestler qualify for the NCAA Championships, including program-best four qualifiers in 2013-14.

Even though Erkin hasn’t wrestled on the collegiate level since 2005, doesn’t mean he stopped competing. Recently, Erkin qualified for the U.S Olympic Trials after finishing fourth at the U.S. Senior Nationals Dec. 17-19 in Las Vegas.

“It started last year when I got American citizenship,” Erkin said. “I was a citizen of my home country Uzbekistan, but last year I was able to become an American citizen and compete for the American team.”

“My weight is pretty tough,” Erkin said. “There are a lot of good wrestlers in the class.”

This isn’t the only competition Erkin will go through to make it to the Olympics, as he still has to compete at the Olympic Trials.

“They’re going to put us in a bracket and run us through,” Erkin said. “The two who make it to the finals will have to win best two out of three. To make it to the Olympics you need to win the whole thing.”

Erkin is a case of a UVU athlete going on and continuing to play at an elite level after schooling. When you consider that he’s 35 and he’s competing against 25-year-old men, the best of the best, and he’s beating them, is impressive. What will be even more impressive is if he is able to represent the United States at the 2016 Olympics. Whatever the result, one thing is for sure: Erkin continues to coach and compete at a very high