An Arlington wrestling champion had a disappointing Saturday at the Rio games. Tervel Dlagnev missed his chance at a bronze medal but he had a lot of support along the way.
Several dozen students and staff gathered at Arlington High School to watch Dlagnev compete for the bronze medal in the 275 pound weight class. Rio was his second Olympics but he was already a wrestling legend in Arlington.
“Seeing somebody that like wrestled in this room, who you practiced with, who you like look up to go to that level is just like I can be there too,” said female wrestler Naara Gonzalez. The senior finished 4th in state competition last school year and got to practice with the Olympian during a clinic at Arlington High.
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Andrew Bell graduated from Arlington two years ago and also got to train with Dlagnev.
“When you see people wrestling they usually look pretty angry but then when he’s off the mat and he’s talking to people he’s real calm, collect and he’s having laughs,” said Bell.
Dlagnev taught Bell that there is more to wrestling than what happens on the mat.
“You get a different perspective on wrestling when your coming from someone who has international experience and all that so it changes you completely,” Bell explained.
The Bulgaria born athlete moved to the U.S. at 4 years old. During his sophomore year at Arlington he caught the eye of a visionary coach while in P.E. class.
“It’s pretty hard to find and Olympian in a P.E. class anywhere in the world,” said head wrestling coach Henry Harmoney.
Unfortunately Dlagnev was defeated in only 31 seconds but to the crowd at Arlington he will always be a champion.
“The fact is that he made two Olympics and got 5th twice and no other wrestler in the state has made 2 olympic teams, none. And 5th twice isn’t what he wanted but it’s pretty dang good,” said Harmoney.
Dlagnev has had chronic back issues throughout his career and while this may be his last match it is not the end of his career on the mat. He has accepted a coaching job at Ohio State University.