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2001 U.S. Greco-Roman National Wrestling Championships preview



The United States is returning from one of its greatest Olympic Greco-Roman performances, and all three medalists from the Sydney Games have continued to compete. The boost to the program from Team USA's third-place finish in the Olympics should be apparent in future World and Olympic competition. Gold-medalist Rulon Gardner has swept all the major Olympic sports awards, after defeating the world's greatest star, Alexandre Kareline of Russia, in the Olympic finals. Medalists Matt Lindland and Garrett Lowney gave memorable performances, and still have gold-medal dreams. Other Olympians and world-class contenders are also expected to battle for a shot at the 2001 World Championships in New York. A weight-by weight preview of the U.S. Greco-Roman Nationals follows. 119 pounds 2000 Olympian Steven Mays comes off his best domestic season ever, after winning the No. 1 national ranking for the second straight year. 1996 Olympic silver medalist Brandon Paulson placed second to Mays in the Olympic Trials, but has yet to return to the mats. Two-time Olympian Shawn Sheldon, one of the best in U.S. history, remains a force, and seeks to compete in the World meet in his native New York. Jeff Cervone, a top military star, has the ability and experience to challenge for a top position. Justin Weber and Camilo Gonzales have shown great potential. Former Team USA member Joey Dansby is always a force. Lindsay Durlacher has improved on international tours and will be a factor. Junior National champion Cam Jones is expected to be a top challenger in upcoming years. Michael Santos and Marcos Jeantette are challengers from the Armed Forces ranks. 127.75 pounds James Gruenwald, who placed fifth in the 2000 Olympics, got his chance on the world scene after a number of years knocking at the door behind 1996 Olympic silver medalist and 1995 World Champion Dennis Hall. Gruenwald defeated Hall in the finals of the Olympic Trials, after many close battles in previous years. Both Gruenwald and Hall have considerable success against foreign competition, and are both World medal contenders. Young Darnell Lollis, a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete, has emerged with the No. 3 ranking and a bright future. World military champion Duaine Martin has been a consistent challenger for top national honors, along with another military star Dave Nieradka. Cody Sanderson, oldest of the All-American brothers from Iowa State, showed strong Greco-Roman skills in the Olympic Trials. Other challengers include Josh Fox, Shawn Conyers and Enrique Montiel. Kenny Cox has been very successful on the age-group levels, and is expected to be a threat very soon. 138.75 pounds Kevin Bracken is coming off his greatest season ever, placing sixth at the Olympic Games and showing improved performances at international meets. Bracken, a former World Cup champion, seeks his first World-level medal. Placing second to Bracken in the Olympic Trials is former national champion Glenn Nieradka, also an improved wrestler internationally. Veteran Shon Lewis, who has won many national titles and World team berths, has assumed coaching duties with the Army and may not compete again. James Shillow, a top military star, is a rising young talent who has championship potential. Glenn Garrison and Jacob Hey have been nationally competitive in recent seasons. Veteran Jason Tolbert is a former Team USA member. Among the top young talents in the weight have been Joe Warren and Scott Munsey. Young Josh Lamano has been excellent on the age-group levels and is a future star. 152 pounds Heath Sims returned to top form in 2000, dominating his weight class and qualifying for his first Olympic team. Although he did not place in Sydney, he defeated the eventual silver medalist and showed his international skills. Two-time Olympic Team Trials runner-up Chris Saba is also experienced and talented, and made U.S. World teams in 1997 and 1998. Marcel Cooper has qualified for Team USA in recent years, and has the skill and experience to challenge for the top spot in the weight class. He has been a top military star for many years. 1996 Olympian David Zuniga, who placed fourth in the 1994 World Championships, is an immediate threat if he continues to compete. Keith Wilson is also a former national team member, and has been a consistent challenger. Oscar Wood, a former age-group star, has emerged on the national scene through the Armed Forces program. Steve Woods and Brian Van Hoven are also a talented military challengers. Veteran Marco Sanchez is coming off a title at the Sunkist Kids International. Young stars on the horizon include Pat Cadwallader and 2000 Junior World silver medalist Joe Privatere. 167.5 pounds 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland had his greatest performance in the Sydney Games, beating a number of top international stars to qualify for the finals. Lindland, who has also won Pan American and World Cup gold medals, has excelled at this weight division, but may consider moving up this year. Keith Sieracki, a past U.S. Nationals champion and the runner-up for the last two U.S. Olympic teams, is also a world-class star. T.C. Dantzler, ranked No. 3 in the nation, is an explosive thrower and talented athlete who has championship abilities. The top young military star in the nation is Jake Clark, who has been successful in recent international tours. Veteran Dan Niebuhr, a former U.S. Nationals champion, dropped to this class last year, but may also move up in weight. Mike Uker has been a consistent challenger in recent years. College stars Tom Ciezki and Carl Fronhofer have excelled on the age-group levels, but also are top placewinners on the Senior levels. Other challengers include Rob McKenney, Jeff Funicello and Corey Davis. 187.25 pounds 2000 Olympian Quincey Clark has taken over this weight class in recent years, but has a number of top challengers who are expected to make it difficult for him to remain on top. Clark has twice placed at the World Championships, but is still seeking his first World-level medal. Olympic Trials runner-up Ethan Bosch is an explosive pinner, and has beaten Clark a number of times in the past. College star Chael Sonnen was a University World silver medalist this year, and is a rising Greco-Roman talent. Military stars Aaron Sieracki and Kenny Owens have beaten top U.S. wrestlers and could push for a spot in the finals. Owens has been in the U.S. Nationals finals before. Veteran Dan Henderson, a two-time Olympian, is always a threat if he decides to continue his career. Wrestlers who have been in the hunt include James Meyer, William Carr and James Short. Mike Mathers, from the USOEC program in Michigan, could be a factor, and Army wrestler James Kutz should be watched. 213.75 pounds Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney shocked the world with his medal performance in Sydney at the age of 20, and now must show what he will do for an encore. He has been competing at heavyweight in college, and will have to work hard to stay in this weight class. 1996 Olympian Jason Gleasman placed second to Lowney in the Olympic Trials and is the defending national champion. Veteran Dave Surofchek was third in Olympic Trials, and is always a force. Josh Hall, who was fourth in the Olympic Trials, is gaining international experience, and is a young challenger. Veterans Dan Hicks and Randy Couture have been through many battles, and could pose a serious threat in any national event. 2000 NCAA champion Brad Vering was a nationally ranked Greco-Roman star just two years ago, and is expected to become an instant force when he concentrates on the international style. The military programs have a number of potential All-Americans, including Jason Loukides, Tipton Peterson and Albert Sankey. Wrestling's George Foreman, 1984 Olympic silver medalist Greg Gibson, continues to compete in his late 40's, and can still win a big match at 213.75 pounds or heavyweight. 286 pounds Olympic champion Rulon Gardner has decided to continue competing, and will be the focus of attention after his spectacular performance in Sydney.
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