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U.S. Nationals preview at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman wrestling

Dremiel Byers of the U.S. Army won the 2002 World Greco-Roman title at 120 kg/264.5 pounds, but was behind Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner for the next two years before making the World team again last year.

Byers is hoping to atone for a disappointing showing at the 2005 World Championships, where he failed to place. Byers is the clear-cut favorite to make his fourth World team. He is shooting for his sixth U.S. Nationals title. His experience and talent give him an edge over the rest of the field.

Byers has put together a strong season, winning the Sunkist Kids Open and the NYAC meet before placing third at the Dave Schultz Memorial. Byers beat veteran Russ Davie of the New York Athletic Club in the finals of the Sunkist Kids and NYAC tournaments.

Davie appears to be the top challenger for Byers. Davie had a victory over Byers in a tournament in Belarus last spring, but has not been able to beat him since. Davie placed second at the Dave Schultz Memorial and fifth at the Poland Open. He was second to Byers in both the U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials in 2005.

Davie is followed in national rankings by Dan Hicks and Frank Workman of the U.S. Marines, Brandon Ruiz of the Sunkist Kids, Travis Clark, Josh Feldman of the U.S. Navy, Jake Marquart of the USOEC and Jamie Rakevich of the Orange Crush.

Hicks bumped up a weight class last year and earned a bronze medal at the World Team Trials last year. Hicks is the coach of the U.S. Marines team, so he may not compete this season. Workman has placed in a number of major events in this weight class. Workman has competed at 211.5 pounds in previous seasons, and would be a contender there if he chose to drop in weight.

Ruiz, older brother of World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz, placed third at the Sunkist Kids Open. Feldman, third at Vegas in 2005, won the Maccabiah Games last year in Israel. Rakevich was fourth at last year's U.S. Nationals, and was successful in Greco-Roman on the age-group levels.

NCAA heavyweight champion Cole Konrad of Minnesota also has wrestled Greco, but competed in freestyle last year at the World Team Trials.

Among the other returning placewinners from the U.S. Nationals are Gabe Beauperthuy (fifth), Brian Keck of the New York Athletic Club (sixth) and Everette McDaniel of the U.S. Army (eighth). Other wrestlers expected to challenge for All-American honors are Tim Taylor of the U.S. Army and Jake Marquart of the USOEC.

Keck is a veteran who has been nationally ranked in both freestyle and Greco-Roman during his career. His experience could be an edge in any close match with younger athletes.

Byers will look to get back on track after coming up short at the 2005 World meet. He is the favorite to represent the USA again at the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou, China. Davie once again appears to be Byers' top challenger, but will have to win a few tough bouts to get another chance at Byers' title.

1st - Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) dec. Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 3-0, 2-0
3rd - Josh Feldman, San Diego, Calif. (U.S. Navy) dec. Jamie Rakevich, Elma, Wash. (Orange Crush WC), 1-0, 0-3, 2-0
5th - Gabe Beauperthuy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Unattached) won by injury default over Brian Keck, Cleveland, Ohio (New York AC)
7th - Travis Clark, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marines) dec. Everette McDaniel, Fort Carson, Colo. (U.S. Army), 2-1, 1-0

1. Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
2. Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
3. Dan Hicks, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
4. Frank Workman, Spotsylvania, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
5. Brandon Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
6. Travis Clark, Hoytville, Ohio (Unattached)
7. Josh Feldman, San Diego, Calif. (U.S. Navy)
8. Jake Marquart, Marquette, Mich. (USOEC)
9. Jamie Rakevich, Elma, Wash. (Orange Crush)
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