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Two-time World bronze medalist Harry Lester powers into semifinals at Dave Schultz Memorial International Open



Harry Lester battles for an edge in the quarterfinals. John Sachs photo.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – It’s been 2½ years since Harry Lester has weighed under 150 pounds.

But Lester showed some of the same fire and determination he had when he won back-to-back World bronze medals in Greco-Roman wrestling in 2006 and 2007.

That was evident when Lester pulled out an exciting 0-1, 1-0, 1-0 quarterfinal win over Bulgarian Emiliyan Todorov at the Dave Schultz Memorial International Open on Thursday.

Lester lost to Todorov in 2005 in a tournament in Bulgaria. Todorov was 10th in the World in 2010.

“I knew if I pushed him a little more he was going to break,” Lester said. “I just had to keep wrestling. He had good defense, but I knew I was going to be able to push him out.”

Lester now advances to face Norway’s Stig Andre Berge in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The semifinals are set for 4 p.m. with the finals to follow.

Lester returned to competition and won two matches at last weekend’s Kiki Cup at the Olympic Training Center, but this is the first time he’s had his weight down to wrestle at 66 kilos since the 2008 Olympic Team Trials.

Wrestlers receive a two-kilogram allowance for this event.

Lester moved up a weight class and made the U.S. World Team at 74 kg/163 lbs. in 2009. He took most of last season off before joining the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

“I feel strong and I feel good,” Lester said. “My body’s a little worn down from cutting. I still need to push myself in my matches. I’m just taking it match by match. It’s going to take some time and I realize that.”

Past World Team members Joe Betterman, Jake Fisher and Justin Ruiz also landed spots in the semifinals.

American Robbie Smith will battle Olympic champion Andrea Minguzzi of Italy in the semifinals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Minguzzi is wrestling up a weight class.

2006 World champion Joe Warren dropped his first match to Poland’s Edward Barsegjan 4-0, 1-1 before he fell to American Marco Lara in his second bout at 60 kg/132 lbs.

SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS

55 kg/121 lbs.

Dawid Andr Ersetic (Poland) vs. Thomas Ronningen (Norway)
Anders Ronningen (Norway) vs. Aleksandar Kostadinov (Bulgaria)

60 kg/132 lbs.

Kazuma Kuramoto (Japan) vs. Chad Vandiver (Sunkist Kids)
Ivo Angelov (Bulgaria) vs. Joe Betterman (Sunkist Kids)

66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Sharur Vardanyan (Sweden) vs. Yuji Okamoto (Japan)
Stig Andre Berge (Norway) vs. Harry Lester (U.S. Army)

74 kg/163 lbs.

Jake Fisher (New York AC) vs. Ben Provisor (Sunkist Kids)
Steven Forrest (U.S. Marine Corps) vs. Andy Bisek (Minnesota Storm)

84 kg/185 lbs.

Kristofer Ragnar Johansson (Sweden) vs. Taichi Oka (Japan)
Hristo Marinov (Bulgaria) vs. Damian Janikowski (Poland)

96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Justin Ruiz (New York AC) vs. Elis Guri (Bulgaria)
Robbie Smith (New York AC) vs. Andrea Minguzzi (Italy)

120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Brandon Rupp (Sunkist Kids) vs. Lukasz Banak (Poland)
Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria) vs. Johan Euran (Sweden)
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