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|U.S. Nationals Greco-Roman preview at 74 kg/163 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Veteran T.C. Dantzler of the Gator WC is coming off his best season, placing fifth at the 2006 World Championships on his fourth trip to the big show. Dantzler is a tremendous athlete who can throw with the best of them, and competes very well under the new Greco-Roman rules. He also broke a barrier last year by winning his first U.S. Nationals title, after many years falling just short of the achievement.
Dantzler has missed the early season recovering from surgery, but is expected to be a factor again this year. He attended the World Cup with the team, but was not quite ready to wrestle at that event. If he is not ready for U.S. Nationals, you can be sure he will be well prepared when the World Team Trials are held in June.
Placing second in the World Team Trials for his best performance ever was Brandon McNab of the U.S. Army, who has spent many years climbing the ladder in this division. His big win at the World Team Trials was over Army teammate Keith Sieracki, who has been a past U.S. World Team member, with tremendous experience and talent. McNab has paid his dues, actually living overseas for a short time early in his career to expand his international experience.
Sieracki is coming off a victory at the Armed Forces Championships, and won a silver medal at the Sunkist Kids International and a fourth-place finish at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. Sieracki has more experience than anybody in this field, except for perhaps longtime rival Dantzler, so he will be a tough draw for anybody.
The top young star in the division is Cheney Haight of the New York AC, who hails from the USOEC program, who has extensive age-group international success. Haight won gold medals at the Sunkist Kids International and the New York AC Holiday International, putting himself in position to be a true challenger for a spot in the finals in Las Vegas.
Faruk Sahin of the U.S. Army, who was very competitive nationally down at 145 pounds, has moved up to this division and seeks to break into the medal rounds. Sahin lost two years to a penalty for a doping test in 2004, and returned to action late last year. All of his losses this year have been to foreign wrestlers, so how he will stack up against the Americans at 163 pounds has yet to be seen.
Jess Hargrave of the U.S. Army has consistently been among the top performers here. Hargrave was fourth last year at the World Team Trials, losing to Sieracki in the third-place match. He has won a silver medal at the Sunkist Kids International and a bronze medal at the New York AC Holiday Championships, both indications that he remains a threat here.
This weight class has tremendous depth in comparison to some of the others in Greco-Roman. Jake Fisher of the New York AC, also from the USOEC program, is capable of reaching the medal rounds at any tournament. He was second at the New York AC Holiday Championships and third at the Sunkist Kids International. Other athletes who have shown strong performances in recent years at this division include Kevin Lozano of the Gator WC, Sasa Petkovic of the New York AC and Andrew Bisek of the Minnesota Storm. Last year, Matt Nagel of the Minnesota Storm placed eighth at the U.S. Nationals at this division, but Nagel has been mostly doing freestyle this season. If he enters, he could make some noice at this weight class.
With veterans like Dantzler, Sieracki and McNab, and young stars like Haight and Fisher, you can expect competitive matches in this weight class very early in the U.S. Nationals tournament.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 74 kg/163 lbs.
1st - T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) dec. Keith Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 2-0, 1-2, 4-0
3rd - Brandon McNab, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) dec. Jess Hargrave, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 1-1, 3-0, 1-1
5th - Cheney Haight, Orem, Utah (USOEC/New York AC) dec. Sasa Petkovic, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 2-0, 6-1
7th - Jacob Fisher, Platte City, Mo. (USOEC) dec. Matt Nagel, Frazee, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 6-0, 4-1
TheMat.com rankings at 74 kg/163 lbs. for February 2007
1. T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
2. Brandon McNab, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
3. Keith Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
4. Cheney Haight, Orem, Utah (USOEC/New York AC)
5. Jess Hargrave, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
6. Faruk Sahin, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
7. Jacob Fisher, Platte City, Mo. (USOEC)
8. Kevin Lozano, Jefferson, La. (USOEC/Gator WC)
9. Sasa Petkovic, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
10. Andrew Bisek, Chaska, Minn. (USOEC/Minnesota Storm)