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U.S. Nationals Greco-Roman preview at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.



The development of talented Harry Lester of the Gator WC on the international wrestling scene continued last year, as Lester won the World bronze medal in Guangzhou, China. He beat many outstanding opponents along the way, and turned his unlimited potential into a great performance. He became the first Greco-Roman athlete from the USOEC program at Northern Michigan to win a Senior World medal.

In 2005, Lester became the first USOEC wrestler to win a Senior National title, and to make a Senior World Team. Prior to that, he dominated the age-group levels in Greco-Roman in his weight class. He left Iowa State during his first year in college to concentrate fulltime on Greco-Roman, and it has paid off hansomly.

Now that he has established himself internationally, he will now be a target for this opponents, something that will be a new challenge for this rising star. Lester has remained active, competing at the World Cup this winter. He must hold off a very deep weight class of challengers within the United States for a chance at another medal this year.

The returning national champion is Marcel Cooper of the U.S. Army, who won the title at the advanced age of 35. Lester, who missed the U.S. Nationals last year, beat Cooper in the finals of the World Team Trials. Cooper, who competed on the 2001 U.S. World Team, continues to be competitive at the major events, won the Armed Forces title again this year and was fourth at a very competitive Dave Schultz Memorial International.

Jacob Curby of the Gator WC, who trains with the USOEC program, has continued to climb the ranks on the Senior level. He captured gold medals at both of the Sunkist Kids International and the New York AC Holiday Championships and was 10th at the University World Championships last summer.

Another top contender right now is Mark Rial of the Gator WC, who has beaten numerous of the other U.S. opponents in his matches at the New York AC Holiday International and the Dave Schultz Memorial. He was third at the New York AC event and competed deep into the consolations at the Schultz, where his final loss was to Cooper.

Veteran Mike Ellsworth of the New York was second at last year's U.S. Nationals and is always a threat. Ellsworth lost in the finals at the New York AC Holiday International to Curby. His experience and confidence is a big factor in a weight class with as much depth as this.

A pair of veterans from the U.S. Army, 2004 Olympian Oscar Wood as well as Glenn Garrison, have been on past U.S. national teams. Wood put everything together on his run through the Olympic Trials in 2004, taking him to the Athens Games. He has not recaptured that magic in the seasons since, but remains a dangerous threat at any event. At last year's nationals, Garrison beat Wood in the third-place match, and these two often meet in major events.

Also reviving his career is past Greco-Roman Team USA member James Shillow of the U.S. Marines, who was sixth at the U.S. Nationals last year. During the peak of his career, Shillow reached as high as No. 2 on Greco-Roman Team USA. Others to watch who are nationally ranked include Shannon Slack of the New York AC and Mervin Ford of the Gator WC. Two others who were placewinners at last year's U.S. Nationals were Zach Lamano of Elite Wrestling and Cam Jones of TAC, both products of Utah's strong Greco-Roman program in recent years.

2006 U.S. Nationals results at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.>
1st - Marcel Cooper, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) dec. Mike Ellsworth, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Michigan WC), 2-1, 5-0
3rd - Glenn Garrison, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) dec. Oscar Wood, Fountain, Colo. (U.S. Army), 2-2, 3-1
5th - Mark Rial, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) dec. James Shillow, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps), 3-2, 4-0
7th - Zach Lamano, Layton, Utah (Elite Wrestling) inj. dft. over Cam Jones, Salt Lake City, Utah (TAC)

TheMat.com rankings at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. for February 2007
1. Harry Lester, Akron, Ohio (USOEC/Gator WC)
2. Marcel Cooper, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
3. Mark Rial, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
4. Jacob Curby, LaGrange, Ill. (USOEC/Gator WC)
5. Glenn Garrison, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
6. Mike Ellsworth, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Michigan WC)
7. Oscar Wood, Fountain, Colo. (U.S. Army)
8. James Shillow, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
9. Shannon Slack, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
10. Mervin Ford, Miami, Fla. (USOEC/Gator WC)
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