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|Ruiz named 2005 USA Wrestling Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) has been named the 2005 Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. This is the first time Ruiz has won this prestigious award.
Ruiz captured a bronze medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman wrestling at the World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 2. It was the only medal won by a U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler during the championships. Ruiz was competing in his second career World meet, also wrestling at the 2003 World Championships. Outstanding defensive wrestling from the mat was one of the keys to Ruiz' impressive performance, according to U.S. coaches.
Ruiz opened the tournament with a victory over Azat Erkimbaev of Kazakhstan by disqualification in the second period. In the second round, he scored an impressive 3-0, 0-5, 1-1 win over past World silver medalist Marek Svec of the Czech Republic. In the quarterfinals, he lost to local hero Lajos Virag of Hungary, 4-0, 1-1. When Virag qualified for the gold medal finals, Ruiz was able to compete in the wrestleback for the bronze medal.
Ruiz rebounded with a tough a 3-1, 2-0 win over Shata Narmaniya of Belarus. This qualified him for the bronze-medal match against Margulan Assembekov of Kazakhstan, who Ruiz defeated by disqualification in the third and final period.
He earned a spot on the U.S. World Team with a victory at the World Team Trials in Ames, Iowa in June, defeating Adam Wheeler of the Gator WC/USOEC in the Championship Series. Ruiz won his second straight U.S. Nationals title with a strong performance in Las Vegas, Nev. in May, stopping Adam Wheeler in the gold-medal finals.
Ruiz had a tremendous season competing at international events this year, winning two gold medals and four medals in major tournaments. He captured titles at the O. Karaev International in Belarus and the Granma Cup in Poland. Ruiz won a silver medal at the Poland Open and secured a bronze medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ruiz was named USOC Male Wrestler of the Year for 2005.
He is a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete. He was a two-time All-American at the Univ. of Nebraska prior to deciding to concentrate entirely on international Greco-Roman wrestling. Ruiz is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was a three-time state champion for Taylorsville High School..
USA Wrestling will be announcing major award winners each day this week on TheMat.com.
PAST GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
2005 - Justin Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
2004 - Rulon Gardner, Wellsville, Utah (Sunkist Kids)
2003 - Jim Gruenwald, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2002 - Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S. Army
2001 - Rulon Gardner, Cascade, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2000 - Rulon Gardner, Afton, Wyo., Sunkist Kids
1999 - Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S. Army
1998 - Matt Lindland, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
1997 - Rulon Gardner, Gilbert, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1996 - Dennis Hall, Stevens, Point, Wis., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Dennis Hall, Stevens Point, Wis., Sunkist Kids
1994 - Dennis Hall, Stevens Point, Wis., Sunkist Kids
1993 - James Johnson, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids