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Day of shockers: Lawal, Williams, Vering, Bono upset at U.S. World Team Trials



SIOUX CITY, Iowa - The last guy most wrestlers want to eat lunch with is the guy they're about to face for a spot on the U.S. World Team.

But New York Athletic Club teammates Andy Hrovat and Clint Wattenberg said they weren't going to break their lunch plans for Sunday after they both pulled off stunning upsets to reach the freestyle finals at 185 pounds in the U.S. World Team Trials.

The fifth-seeded Hrovat cranked 2005 World Team member and No. 1 seed Mo Lawal of the Gator Wrestling Club to his back to record a stunning fall in the semifinals. The No. 3 Wattenberg, Hrovat's buddy and training partner, followed by knocking off No. 2 seed Lee Fullhart in the other semifinal.

"Some people are saying Lawal is the best wrestler in the World, but I knew I could still do it," Hrovat said. "I'm trying to break through and do something big and make a World Team. This was a huge win for me, but I've been training hard to win a big match like this. I looked up in the stands after the match and saw some people cheering and a lot of people had a shocked look on their face like they didn't know what happened."

It was a morning of shockers on the final day of the World Team Trials at the Tyson Events Center.

Two-time World bronze medalist Joe Williams went 0-2 in freestyle at 163 pounds, three-time World Team member and 2004 Olympian Brad Vering lost in the 185 semis in Greco-Roman and three-time World Team member Chris Bono lost in the 145.5 semis in freestyle.

Hrovat pinned Lawal, who owned a recent win over the reigning World champion from Georgia, in the first period. The dangerous Hrovat, who pinned No. 4 seed Travis Pascoe of the Sunkist Kids in the quarters, had Lawal in a front headlock and caught him with a step-over maneuver to earn his stunning win. The match was scoreless when the fall occurred with eight seconds left in the first period.

Hrovat, who placed fifth at the U.S. Nationals last month, unleashed a scream after his big win. Lawal had been considered a major threat to win a World medal this year.

"He shot to my back leg, I got my front body lock which I get on everybody and he didn't know what to do," said Hrovat, a two-time All-American for Michigan. "I just hipped into him and horsepowered him over and put him right into his back. I had him locked up tight. He was flat on his back."

"I knew our styles conflict in my favor, and plus he had never seen me before. I know he beat a World champion and I know how good he is, but I think I can beat some of the best guys in the World, too."

Wattenberg then followed with a 3-0, 2-1 win over Fullhart, who has been second at the last three World Team Trials competitions. Wattenberg hugged Hrovat as he walked off the mat. Wattenberg was a two-time All-American at Cornell. Wattenberg beat Hrovat 4-0, 0-6, 3-1 in the consolations semis at the U.S. Nationals.

"Seeing what Andy did really inspired me - that was awesome," Wattenberg said. "We push each other in practice and we pull for each other to win. This is a best-case scenario for us. Now we know one of us is going to be on the World Team. I know if I win he'll be happy for me and vice versa."

Hrovat and Wattenberg will be joined in the finals by Donny Pritzlaff of the New York Athletic Club, who is the top seed at 163. Wattenberg chuckled when asked if Pritzlaff will have to keep him and Hrovat separated during lunch.

"The three of us are all good buddies - to have us all in the finals is unbelievable," Wattenberg said. "I'm sure we'll joke around about the match over lunch, but we'll stay good friends no matter what. We all support each other."

Williams had not lost a freestyle match to another wrestler from the United States since 2000. Now he's lost three straight times to an American in the last month in a half.

Just an hour into Sunday morning's session shockwaves were sent through the Tyson Events Center when No. 7 seed Trent Paulson of the Sunkist Kids swept the No. 2 Williams in a quarterfinal bout at 163 pounds. Williams then lost his second bout to Tyron Woodley and was eliminated.

About 20 minutes after Williams fell, another shocker occurred when Vering was upset by Aaron Sieracki of the U.S. Army in the Greco-Roman semifinals at 185 lbs.

Shortly after those upsets, Bono was knocked off in the semifinals by Jared Frayer of the Gator Wrestling Club. Frayer beat Bono 1-0, 0-3, 4-0 and will meet Bill Zadick of the Gator Wrestling Club in the finals, which were set for 4 p.m. Sunday. Zadick will try to join his brother, Mike, on the World team. Mike won the World Team Trials at 132 on Saturday.

Paulson won the first period 2-1, but Williams showed little sense of urgency in trying to mount a comeback. Williams was unable to score in the second period and the match went to the coin flip for the leg clinch. Paulson won the flip and the match when he grabbed the right leg of Williams and dumped him to the mat.

Paulson, a two-time All-American who just finished his junior year at Iowa State, raised both arms in the air in celebration after the win. Paulson grew up just down the road from Sioux City in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Paulson lost a tough, three-period battle in the semifinals to No. 3 seed Tyrone Lewis of the Gator Wrestling Club. The match came down to the leg clinch and Lewis won the coin flip and then the match when he gained a takedown.

Williams won a World bronze medal in 2005, but was upset by Pritzlaff in the finals of the U.S. Nationals last month in Las Vegas. That was his first loss to an American since the 2000 Olympic Trials.

Vering lost the first period to Sieracki and the match was scoreless in the second period before each wrestler received an opportunity for a turn with the reverse lift position. Vering was unable to turn Sieracki in the first 30 seconds before Sieracki turned Vering in the last five seconds to earn the victory.

"I've beaten (Vering) couple times before, but this was the biggest tournament I've beaten him in," Sieracki said. "It's always a tough match."

Sieracki advances to face No. 1 seed Jacob Clark of the U.S. Marines in the best-of-3 finals.

"I've wrestled (Clark) about four times and it's always been very close," Sieracki said. "Except for this is the time for me to get it done."

Pritzlaff pulled out a dramatic semifinal win against No. 4 seed Joe Heskett of the Gator Wrestling Club. Heskett won the coin flip for the leg clinch in the third period, but Pritzlaff turned the tables. Pritzlaff ended up eventually grabbing Heskett's leg to gain a single-leg takedown in the closing seconds to reach the finals.

Pritzlaff will face Lewis in the finals.

In a battle of past NCAA champions from the Big Ten, Tommy Rowlands of the Sunkist Kids swept Cole Konrad of the Minnesota Storm 1-1, 1-1 in the 264.5-pound semis in freestyle. Rowlands won by virtue of scoring the last point in both periods.

Mocco followed by sweeping Rowlands in the Challenge Tournament finals. Mocco will meet Tolly Thompson of the Sunkist Kids in the finals. Thompson had a bye into the championship series after winning a World bronze medal last year and by virtue of winning the U.S. Nationals. Thompson beat Mocco in the finals of this event last year.

Mocco downed four-time Division II NCAA champion Les Sigman of the Sunkist Kids 1-0, 4-0 in the semifinal round. The fifth-seeded Sigman opened with a 3-2, 5-0 win over No. 4 seed Michael Irving of the Gator Wrestling Club. Sigman dislocated his shoulder twice in the match with Mocco and pulled out of the event.

In one of the best semifinal matchups, No. 3 seed Sam Hazewinkel of the Gator Wrestling Club overcame No. 2 Spenser Mango of the U.S. Olympic Education Center/Gator Wrestling Club. Hazewinkel took control late in the 121-pound Greco-Roman match, winning the third period 5-0.

SUNDAY'S FINAL ROUND PAIRINGS

55 KG/121 LBS. GRECO-ROMAN
Lindsey Durlacher, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) vs. Sam Hazewinkel, Pensacola, Fla. (Gator WC)

60 KG/132 LBS. GRECO-ROMAN
Jeremiah Davis, El Cajon, Calif. (USOEC/Sunkist Kids) vs. Joe Warren, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)

84 KG/185 LBS. GRECO-ROMAN
Jacob Clark, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) vs. Aaron Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)

66 KG/145.5 LBS. FREESTYLE
Jared Frayer, Cambridge, Mass. (Gator WC) vs. Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)

74 KG/163 LBS. FREESTYLE
Donny Pritzlaff, Northport, N.Y. (New York AC) vs. Tyrone Lewis, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC)

84 KG/185 LBS. FREESTYLE
Andy Hrovat, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC) vs. Clint Wattenburg, Ithaca, N.Y. (New York AC)

120 KG/264.5 LBS. FREESTYLE
Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) vs. Steve Mocco, N. Bergen, N.J. (New York AC)
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