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Greco-Roman star Durlacher puts on show on tough night for freestyle team at Chicago Cup

EVANSTON, Ill. - They were calling it an exhibition.

But for Lindsey Durlacher this might as well have been the Olympic finals.

Durlacher was not about to lose a match on his home turf in front of family and friends in his return to Chicago.

It was a memorable homecoming for Durlacher after he executed a spectacular five-point throw in the first period Tuesday night en route to a 6-0, 2-2 Greco-Roman win over China's Li Shujin in the Chicago Cup.

"I felt like I pinned the guy right off the bat and that's what I came here for," said Durlacher, from the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove. "I wanted to put on a show for my friends, but winning the match was the big thing. I was a little concerned because the guy was a little bigger than me, but I'm walking out of here $3,000 richer and that's the main thing.

"This was a real special night for me. It was a very nice homecoming with a lot of friends and family here. The crowd was unbelievable - I've never seen a crowd like this. This crowd was bigger than any Midlands crowd. They were awesome and this was a remarkable event."

Wins by Durlacher, Greco-Roman teammate Harry Lester and freestyle wrestler Mo Lawal were the highlights on a tough night for the U.S. freestyle team in the Chicago Cup.

Wrestling in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,125 fans at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena, the U.S. freestyle team struggled against the powerful Russian team in falling 19-7.

The Russians won 5 of 6 bouts over the Americans, with Bulgarian replacement Radoslav Velikov beating Sammie Henson of the U.S. in a battle of World champions at 55 kg/121 lbs.

The event was sponsored by World Sport Chicago and USA Wrestling. World Sport Chicago is the group assisting the city in its bid to try and land the 2016 Olympics.

The U.S. lost the first five bouts in freestyle before Lawal, a last-minute replacement at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., put on a show with a strong performance. Lawal powered in on a number of strong double-leg shots en route to a 5-3, 3-1 win over Tokhtar Temrezov of Russia.

The crowd roared in approval as Lawal celebrated his win on the mat. Lawal high-fived fans as he walked toward the interview area and autograph seekers mobbed him in a corner of the arena.

"The atmosphere, man, it was just great," said Lawal, blood dripping from his right ear. "The fans were behind me and I couldn't let them down. I know a lot of people from the Twisters wrestling program here in Chicago and I had to represent and put on a good show for them. I couldn't lose in front of them, no way was I going to lose."

Velikov beat Henson in the semifinals of the 2006 World Championships and followed suit again Tuesday night with a 1-0, 1-0 win. Velikov won the World title and Henson placed third. Henson is just coming back after recovering from a knee injury.

In another marquee matchup, 2005 World champion Alan Dudaev of Russia outlasted 2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick of the U.S. 2-0, 3-3, 6-0. Zadick was in deep on a pair of shots in the decisive third period, but Dudaev countered effectively and turned him twice to win the match at 60 kg/132 lbs. Zadick was competing for the first time since the 2006 World meet last September.

Lester, a rising American star in Greco-Roman wrestling, earned an impressive 4-1, 6-0 win over 2006 World champion Li Yanyan of China at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Lester, a 2006 World bronze medalist, body-locked Yanyan near the edge of the mat to take control early.

Women's freestyle wrestler Sara McMann was dominant in scoring a 4-0, 1-0 win over Canada's Megan Dolan at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

U.S. women's freestyle wrestler Mary Kelly dropped a 1-0, 1-0 decision to Canada's Carol Huynh in the night's first bout at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. Kelly, from Mahomet, Ill., was unable to break through against the past World bronze medalist despite coming out with an aggressive attack.

"It was a great crowd and a great atmosphere to wrestle in," Kelly said. "This is actually the most nervous I've ever been because a lot of friends and family were here to support me. I really wanted to wrestle well for everybody. I got close, but close wasn't good enough."

The Chicago Cup will be broadcast on a taped-delayed basis to millions of homes in the Midwest. The broadcast will be aired on WYCC in Chicago (Channel 20) on Saturday, February 10 at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, February 11 at 4 p.m.

The host of the show will be Ken Stout. The color commentator is Mark Massery, a 1973 NCAA Div. I champion for Northwestern University. The matside reporter is Ted Brunson. WYCC is carried in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, and reaches 9.2 million homes.



55 kg/121 lbs. - Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria) dec. Sammie Henson, Flintstone, Ga. (Sunkist Kids), 1-0, 1-0

60 kg/132 lbs. - Alan Dudaev (Russia) dec. Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Hawkeye WC), 2-0, 3-3, 6-0

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Shamil Batirov (Russia) dec. Jared Frayer, Cambridge, Mass. (Gator WC), 2-0, 1-2, 1-0

74 kg/163 lbs. - Murad Gadzhimuradov (Russia) dec. Donny Pritzlaff, Madison, Wis. (New York AC), 1-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs. - Georgi Ketoev (Russia) dec. Andy Hrovat, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC), 9-4, 3-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Mo Lawal, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) dec. Tokhtar Temrezov (Russia), 5-3, 3-1

120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Aleksey Voronin (Russia) dec. Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Sunkist Kids), 2-1, 2-0


48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Carol Huynh (Canada) dec. Mary Kelly, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 1-0, 1-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Sara McMann, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) dec. Megan Dolan (Canada), 4-0, 1-0


55 kg/121 lbs. - Lindsey Durlacher, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Li Shujin (China), 6-0, 2-2

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Harry Lester, Akron, Ohio (USOEC/Gator WC) dec. Li Yanyan (China), 4-1, 6-0
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