|U.S. freestyle wrestlers Henson, Lightner, Bono receive draws for World Championships|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The first three U.S. wrestlers who will compete at the World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary weighed in on Sunday, Sept. 25 and received their first-round draws.
The competition will begin with men's freestyle wrestling at 55 kg/121 lbs., 60 kg/132 lbs. and 66 kg/145.5 lbs. These weight classes will begin and be completed on one day, Monday, Sept. 26.
1998 World Champion Sammie Henson (Flintstone, Ga./Sunkist Kids) will open his competition against Vytas Cumakov of Lithuania at 55 kg/121 lbs. Henson was also a 2000 Olympic silver medalist. Cumakov was 10th in the 2005 European Championships.
"I feel great now that I made weight. I am ready. I can't be any more ready than I am now. I feel strong. One day at a time, one match at a time, one gold at a time," said Henson.
Michael Lightner (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids), competing at his first World Championships, will wrestle 2000 Olympian Tevfik Odabasi of Turkey in the opening round at 60 kg/132 lbs. Odabasi was sixth in the 2003 World Championships.
Odabasi was second at the 2005 World University Games, losing to American Nate Gallick (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) in the gold-medal finals. Lightner defeated Gallick in the finals of the U.S. World Team Trials to earn the spot on the U.S. World Team.
"I love to compete. I am here to win. The preparation was good. I'm more prepared than I have ever been. This is the best training I have ever had. I am optimistic. I will go out and pour my heart out on the mat," said Lightner.
Chris Bono (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), who competed at the 2001 World Championships, will open against one of Canada's top wrestlers, Evan MacDonald, in the opening match at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. MacDonald placed eighth at the 2003 World Championships, and competed in the 2004 Olympic Games.
"I am excited to get started. It has been a long time. I am real prepared, as prepared as I will be. I just have to wrestle, do everything we practiced all summer. If I do that, I'll be OK. I am excited. I am just ready to go. We are well prepared," said Bono.
"The first three guys are ready," said U.S. World Team Coach Joe Seay. "Everybody is doing well. We've had great practices. Everybody is training well. We are ready; we have staged everything. Now we are just getting ready to go. The kids are feeling good for the most part."
The U.S. is expected to be among the top teams in the men's freestyle competition. The U.S. has won two World Team titles, in 1993 and 1995, on teams which included Seay as a head coach.
The competition in all three weight divisions will be completed in its entirety on Monday, Sept. 26, with a gold medal, a silver medal and two bronze medals awarded.
Weigh-ins for the second set of weight classes in men's freestyle wrestling will be held Monday, with competition on Tuesday, Sept. 27 (74 kg, 84 kg, 96 kg).