There was no press conference.

No hoopla and no major announcement.

Jarrod Brezovec decided to retire from wrestling. For good.

His decorated high school career had been completed and it was time to focus on the real world.

Therefore, Brezovec put his glory days aside and focused on earning a degree from the right college or university.

"I was looking to go to colleges like Akron or Kent State," he said. "I wasn’t looking to wrestle."

So there you have it.

The 2017 Aurora graduate had enough. The four-time state qualifier and three-time state placer was no longer motivated to put opponents in a headlock or a crossface cradle.

Danny Novak, on the other hand, wasn’t buying it.

The 2016 Aurora graduate couldn’t possibly believe his former teammate would lock his headgear in a safe and then toss the key into a river.

Thus, Novak needed to have a talk with his close friend. This was not the type of decision to take lightly.

"He told me I should wrestle," Brezovec said.

For Novak, a member of the John Carroll University (University Heights) wrestling team, a commitment from his friend would be the best of both worlds.

He would be reunited with his pal and the Blue Streaks would be adding an elite member to their already talented squad.

Brezovec reluctantly agreed to wear a singlet again. The rest, they say, is history.

Brezovec concluded a stellar sophomore season at John Carroll by advancing to the NCAA Division III Championships during the winter.

Competing at 141 pounds, Brezovec took the third and final spot at the NCAA Regionals and then finished 0-2 at the prestigious championships.

While the 20-year-old finance and actuary science major was delighted to get as far as he did, Brezovec didn’t particularly enjoy his brief stay in Roanoke, Virginia.

"I was kind of bummed," he said. "I wanted to place or at the very least, win a match. My goal is to place next year."

That fierce determination to compete had been considerably lacking a little more than a year ago.

Since he was so talented in the art of grappling, Brezovec didn’t have much of a rust period when he returned to the mats as a collegian.

But the passion was still lacking — rather severely.

"My first year of college wrestling, I did it just to do it," Brezovec said. "I wasn’t taking it as seriously as I did in high school. I just didn’t have the right mindset."

Brezovec’s apathy toward a sport he once loved was painfully obvious. Such indifferent behavior by his pupil perplexed Blue Streaks head coach Mark Hawald.

And he wasn’t particularly thrilled with his prized recruit.

"I’m not sure he knew what he was getting himself into," Hawald said. "The hardest thing for most freshmen, if not all, is adjusting to the college environment. In his case, it was academics and wrestling. Slowly but surely, he bought in."

It took a humbling experience to do so.

Seeded first in his weight class at the 2018 NCAA Regionals, Brezovec had a chance to end his first season with a flourish.

Sadly, that flourish proved to be nonexistent. Brezovec finished a disappointing sixth and did not advance.

"That lit a fire under me," Brezovec said. "It made me want it more the next year."

Fully engaged for the first time since he claimed third place at the 2017 Division II state tournament in Columbus, Brezovec enjoyed quite a renaissance during a highly successful sophomore season.

He finished 28-10 and was named the Ohio Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week on two occasions.

Still, though, Brezovec, who won eight of his nine matches against OAC opponents, didn’t get a free pass to the national competition.

In fact, he had to overcome adversity just to have the opportunity to earn an invitation to Roanoke.

Since the top three wrestlers advance in each weight class, Brezovec needed a win against Baldwin Wallace’s Tanner McHugh to have a shot at qualifying for that third spot.

There was a slight problem with this scenario. McHugh handed Brezovec his only conference loss earlier in the season.

"I had all the offense, but they scouted me well," Brezovec said of his earlier defeat. "He knew how to wrestle me and he ended up beating me in the final 30 seconds."

Despite the defeat, Brezovec had no inclination of losing when he saw his adversary again.

This time, though, Brezovec, perhaps taking a cue from a certain 1972 country rock song by the late Ricky Nelson, "learned his lesson well."

As a result, Brezovec celebrated his own "Garden Party" after pinning McHugh with 39 seconds left in the match.

"I’m pretty sure I got a shot on him," Brezovec said. "We were in a funky position on the edge of the mat. I was sprawling, sprawling, sprawling until I got him on his back."

Brezovec got through the hard part. But another "hard part" awaited him.

The next gentleman Brezovec encountered was Wabash College’s Riley Lomenick, who Brezovec defeated one day earlier.

Round two was a bit more significant. The loser of this match had the unfortunate duty of calling it a season.

And there was some drama in this particular bout, as well.

The competition took place at Wabash, which is located in Crawfordsville, Illinois.

Could Brezovec take down an opponent who had a rather gargantuan throng of adoring fans cheering him lustily in a winner-take-all showdown?


Despite having just about zero drops of fuel in his tank, Brezovec scored five points in the final period to score a 9-6 victory.

At that point, the former Aurora superstar grappler had earned his trip to wrestling’s Taj Mahal.

"I got a takedown in the last few seconds," Brezovec said. "It was nerve-racking. I could barely breathe. My teammate had just lost a heartbreaking match. I told myself, ‘I can’t let this happen to me.’"

So what happened to the lack of enthusiasm that was so disturbingly evident the previous year?

Brezovec smashed his carefree ways to pieces the moment his freshman season came to an unsatisfying end.

"Jarrod is fun and outgoing, but he also carries a chip on his shoulder," Hawald said. "That has made him successful. He has a desire to continue to work harder."

Getting a place at the 2020 National Championships is priority numero uno for the now fully dedicated Brezovec, who enters his junior year with a 58-17 career record.

He might be selling himself a little short, according to someone he knows well.

"He has the ability to win a national championship," Hawald said. "He has had some close matches with All-Americans and he has beaten some All-Americans. If he puts it all together, why not?"

Chasing such illustrious dreams can wait another day, though. Brezovec is just thrilled to be participating in a sport that nearly slipped away from his fingertips two years ago.

And he’s not the only Blue Streak who once bled green.

The 157-pound Novak, who placed seventh at the 2019 NCAA regionals, is expected to return to John Carroll’s wrestling team next winter.

Connor Bizjak, a 2017 Aurora graduate, is a rising sophomore who missed most of the 2018-19 season due to injury.

As for rumors of retirement plans, they will definitely be put on a lengthy waiting list.

Brezovec isn’t going to be leaving the mats any time soon.

However, if such temptations lurk in his future, Brezovec may want to be careful.

A certain loyal friend might give him an earful.

"Danny is the reason I came here," Brezovec said. "It was cool to see a familiar face. Everyone here has been welcoming. That has made the transition way easier. They’re all my best friends now."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_RPC.