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|Williams vs. Fullhart is the new Bout of the Week on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .
The featured match this week is the 2007 Joe Williams vs. Lee Fullhart men's freestyle gold medal match at 84 kg/185 lbs. from the U.S. National Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. The match took place on April 7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
It marked a triumphant return for Williams, a two-time World bronze medalist who has moved up a weight class this year after being a fixture as the top American at 74 kg/163 lbs. in freestyle for a number of years.
Williams won his seventh U.S. Nationals title by beating Fullhart in the finals. It was an interesting matchup between college teammates at Iowa. Both won NCAA titles for the Hawkeye team that broke the scoring record at the 1997 NCAA Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Williams won the title that year at 158 pounds and Fullhart struck gold at 190. Now they are both at the same weight internationally at 185.
Williams has come back strong after he endured a rough 2006 season where he was knocked off by Donny Pritzlaff in the finals of the U.S. Nationals. Williams was then upset by Trent Paulson in the first round of the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials and failed to place after dropping his next match.
The 32-year-old Williams, who wrestles for the Sunkist Kids, made five straight U.S. World Teams from 1999 to 2005. He won bronze medals at the World Championships in 2001 and 2005. He was also made the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, placing fifth at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Williams, who won three NCAA titles at Iowa and was named to the NCAA's 75th anniversary team, just completed his first season as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois.
Fullhart, who competes for the Gator Wrestling Club, is a guy who has been knocking at the door to make a U.S. Olympic or World Team for the past handful of years. He is a resident at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Fullhart upset Cael Sanderson in the finals of the 2004 U.S. Nationals before dropping a hard-fought, three-match battle to Sanderson in the finals of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Indianapolis. Sanderson went on to win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The 30-year-old Fullhart also placed second at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and has been runner-up three times at the U.S. World Team Trials (2002, 2003, 2005).
Fullhart was a four-time All-American for Iowa, placing fourth, first, third and second in the NCAA tournament. He wrestled on four national championship teams for the Hawkeyes from 1996-99.
The 2007 U.S. Nationals finals match between Williams and Fullhart was a hard-fought, low-scoring affair between two wrestlers who know each other very well. Williams outlasted Fullhart 0-1, 1-0, 1-0 to capture the title.
There was no scoring in regulation in the first period. Fullhart won the coin flip and finished as the offensive wrestler in the leg clinch to win the tiebreaker 1-0. Williams came back early in the second period to score on a pushout to win the period 1-0. In the decisive third period, Williams scored an early takedown to win the period 1-0.
Fullhart also had a disappointing 2006, placing fourth at the U.S. World Team Trials. But he is back in contention again with his second-place finish at the U.S. Nationals.
Williams now takes the No. 1 seed into the U.S. World Team Trials on June 9-10 in Las Vegas. Williams has clinched a spot in the best-of-3 finals by virtue of winning U.S. Nationals and because he has made multiple World Teams. Williams will meet the winner of the June 9 Challenge Tournament that evening in the best-of-3 finals series.
Fullhart will be the No. 1 seed for the Challenge Tournament while Williams awaits the winner.
The winner of the U.S. World Team Trials finals advances to the World Championships on Sept. 17-23 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history. Many other entertaining and historic matches, including the 2007 U.S. Nationals final between Chris Bono and Jared Frayer, are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.