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Hazewinkel, Gallick named Outstanding Wrestlers at wide-open U.S. Nationals finals



LAS VEGAS, NEV. - The U.S. National Championships in men's freestyle and Greco-Roman featured some unexpected outcomes and new heroes at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday night.

The Outstanding Wrestlers were among the young stars on the international circuit, Sam Hazewinkel (Pensacola, Fla./Gator WC) in men's Greco-Roman and Nate Gallick (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) in men's freestyle.

Hazewinkel, 24, won his second career U.S. Nationals title in Greco-Roman, defeating 2006 World bronze medalist Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 2-1, 3-1 at 55 kg/121 lbs. It was a rematch of last year's World Team Trials finals, won by Durlacher. Hazewinkel, a senior at the Univ. of Oklahoma, completed his college career in March as a four-time All-American.

Hazewinkel won the first period, 2-1, scoring a reversal from the bottom par terre position, the last point scored. In the second period, from the top position in par terre, Hazewinkel scored a three-point front headlock turn. Durlacher, from the reverse lift, scored only one point on a lift and could not close the gap.

Gallick, 24, claimed his first U.S. Nationals title at 60 kg/132 lbs. when he defeated 2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Gator WC) in a three-period thriller, 0-1, 3-0, 2-0. Gallick was a 2005 World University Games champion.

The first period went to the leg clinch. Zadick won the flip and took Gallick down for the takedown. In the second period, Gallick scored a three-point takedown with just seconds left in the period for a 3-0 win. In the final decision, Gallick scored a two-point crotch lift turn with time running out to win the period, 2-0.

In Greco-Roman, first-time U.S. Nationals champions included Glenn Garrison, Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Russ Davie (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

In an all-Army finals, Garrison defeated teammate Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in two straight periods, 6-0, 5-3.

Garrison scored a reversal and a number of turns in the first period for the win. In the second period, with the match tied at 3-3, Garrison received two points on a caution against Sahin who was attempting to defend a Garrison turn attempt. Garrison's highest previous finish at the U.S. Nationals was third.

Davie, who was a U.S. Nationals runner-up the last two years, defeated Timothy Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 3-1, 3-0 in the finals. Davie had a gutwrench turn in both periods for the margin of victory.

Taylor, who was unseeded in the tournament, upset his teammate and 2002 World champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the first round. With Byers in his corner coaching, Taylor was unable to get an offensive point in the match.

In freestyle, the first-time U.S. Nationals champions included Joe Heskett (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Tommy Rowlands (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Heskett edged Casey Cunningham (Mt. Pleasant, Mich./Sunkist Kids), 1-6, 4-0, 2-1. Cunningham won the first period, 6-1, on a three-point takedown with exposure, and a high gut wrench which he held for an additional backpoint. Heskett took the second period 4-0, with a takedown early, then a three-point takedown late in the period. Heskett scored the first two takedowns of the third period, and Cunningham scored a takedown with 10 seconds left, but was unable to turn Heskett on the mat.

Cunningham was competing in his first U.S. Nationals after almost three years away from the sport. He retired after competing at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, but made a comeback two weeks ago at the Northeast Regionals in Brockport, N.Y.

Rowlands stopped Cole Konrad (Freedom, Wis./Minnesota Storm), 3-2, 1-0 in the championship finals. Rowlands scored a takedown and an ankle lace in the first period, and scored the only takedown of the second period. Konrad just completed his college career, when he finished as a two-time NCAA champion for the Univ. of Minnesota.

2006 World Greco-Roman champion Joe Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) won his second career U.S. Nationals title at 60 kg/132 lbs., pinning Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill./Gator WC/USOEC) in the first period in 1:23. Warren was leading the match 4-0, and took Betterman directly to his back with a bodylock for the fall.

The tournament featured a number of athletes who have strung together a number of consecutive national titles.

Capturing his second straight U.S. Nationals title at 55 kg/121 lbs. was Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) who stopped Nick Simmons (Williamston, Mich./Sunkist Kids), 4-4, 4-3, 5-0 in the finals.

Simmons won the first period, 4-4, on the strength of a three-point move midway through the period. Cejudo responded with a 4-3 win in the second period, with a two-point tilt breaking a 2-2 tie. In the third and deciding period, Cejudo jumped to a 3-0 lead on a double leg takedown and a two-point gutwrench and went on to win the period 5-0.

Claiming his fourth career U.S. Nationals freestyle title, and his second in a row, was Chris Bono (Ringgold, Ga./Sunkist Kids) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., who needed three periods to defeat Jared Frayer (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), 2-6, 3-1, 1-0.

Frayer dominated the first period, 6-2, after jumping to a 5-0 lead on a takedown and two exposures. Bono won the second period, 3-1, with a takedown and two-point exposure with a cradle. The third and deciding period went to Bono, when he scored a point for Frayer stepping out of bounds.

Bono's achievement has added signifigance, as he just completed his first year as a Div. I head wrestling coach at the Univ. of Tennessee-Chattanooga. His last competition was the 2006 Sunkist Kids International in October.

Winning a fifth straight U.S. Nationals title at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. was 2004 Olympian Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC), who defeated Mo Lawal (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), 1-0, 1-0. Both of Cormier's points were scored on leg clinches, with Cormier winning the flip both times. Both athletes competed at Oklahoma State, and are friends and have been training partners.

Winning his second straight U.S. Nationals title in Greco-Roman at 74 kg/163 lbs. was T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) who defeated long-time rival Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army, 2-1, 1-1 in the finals.

Dantzler scored a point early in the first period, and both wrestlers defended from the reverse lift period for a 2-1 victory. In the second period, neither wrestler scored from the feet, and both were able to defend from the bottom in par terre. Dantzler scored the last point to win the second period, 1-1.

Winning his fourth straight U.S. Nationals title in Greco-Roman was 2005 World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. For the third straight year, he defeated Adam Wheeler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) in the finals, this time by a 3-0, 3-0 margin. Ruiz scored a first-period gut wrench, and received two points on a caution against Wheeler in the second period.

The tournament also featured a return to the top of the podium for two members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, Greco-Roman wrestler Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and freestyle wrestler Joe Williams (Dekalb, Ill. (Sunkist Kids) at 84 kg/185 lbs.

Vering had a dominant performance to win his fourth career U.S. Nationals title. He scored a technical fall over Justin Millard (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force), 7-0, 6-0. Vering was able to take down and turn Millard at will, hitting gut wrenches in both periods. Vering was second at the U.S. Nationals last year.

Williams won his seventh career U.S. Nationals title, but his first since 2005. He stopped Lee Fullhart (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0. Williams, a 2004 Olympian, was competing in his first U.S. Nationals at 84 kg/185 lbs. after wrestling at 163 pounds in previous seasons.

Fullhart won the first period on a leg clinch takedown, but Williams scored takedowns in the next two periods for the win.

The top seven placewinners in each weight class qualified for the U.S. World Team Trials, set for Las Vegas, Nev., June 9-10.
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