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U.S. World Team Trials preview in Greco-Roman at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

Winning his first U.S. Open title was David Arendt of the U.S. Marines, who missed a number of seasons to serve in combat overseas. Arendt was fourth in the 2008 Olympic Trials, then returned to his Marine service, spending time in Iraq and Afghanistan. He returned this year and has been on fire, winning the Armed Forces title and his first U.S. Open title. He is big, strong and confident and is an effective pinner.

Placing second at the Open was Army wrestler Erik Nye, who was away from wrestling for a few years, but has revived his career since entering the military. Nye had a big win in the U.S. Open semifinals, defeating his teammate and two-time Olympian Dremiel Byers to reach the finals. Nye has a strong age-group Greco-Roman background, qualifying to compete at the Junior World Championships in both styles.

Moving up from 96 kg this year has been veteran Robbie Smith, who has added weight and strength. He has done very well in a number of international events, earning medals at his new weight class. In the bronze-medal bout at the U.S. Open, Smith defeated also defeated Byers, a big step in his transformation into a heavyweight.

There is no doubt that Dremiel Byers is one of the best U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers in history. Byers boasts a World medal of each kind, a World gold in 2002, a World silver in 2009 and a World bronze in 2007. He is the last American to win a medal at the World Championships. His two Olympic berths are also very impressive. Byers has owned this class in the USA since 2005, following the great tradition set by Matt Ghaffari and Rulon Gardner.

The question is whether Byers just had a poor performance in Las Vegas and will be back in top form, or if there is a true changing of the guard in this weight class. People might note his age, but that would be a mistake. You can bet that his opponents are taking him very seriously, and it would not be a surprise to see Byers back on top of the podium in Stillwater.

Toby Erickson, a past Junior World bronze medalist, is a talented wrestler who has the potential to reach the finals. He started his college career at Boise State, but switched to Greco full-time and joined the USOEC program at Northern Michigan. He is coming off a strong 2012 year where he medalled at the Olympic Trials. His fifth place at the U.S. Open should not dampen his belief that he can win this division.

College star Tyrell Fortune is strong in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, and could be a factor even if he does both styles in Stillwater. Fortune was third in the U.S. Open in freestyle and sixth in Greco in Las Vegas. Fortune was a big star in both styles as an Oregon prep star, and now attends Grand Canyon University, where he was Div. II national champion and Div. II Wrestler of the Year.

Jake Kettler placed seventh at the U.S. Open and competed in the Olympic Trials last year. He attends George Mason University. The University Nationals finalists were champion Orry Elor and runner-up Parker Betts, both USOEC wrestlers. Betts has a longer list of recent achievements, but both were champions in Fargo on their way up the age-group ladder. A veteran who has qualified for the Trials is Christopher Pierce, who has competed on the Senior circuit for years.

Since nobody is sitting out in Greco-Roman, the finalists will need to win a few big matches to get there. There is a possibility of national champion David Arendt facing Dremiel Byers in the semifinals, if the seeding follows the U.S. Open placements. Arendt upset Byers a few years ago in the Armed Forces Championships, but would still be the underdog in a matchup this week. In spite of his No. 4 placement, Byers will be the man at this weight class until somebody beats him in the World Team Trials event. This year, there are a number of U.S. heavyweights who believe that they will do just that.

2013 U.S. Open Greco-Roman results at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

1st – David Arendt, Jr., Camp Lejeune, N.C. (U.S. Marines) dec. Erik Nye, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP), 1-0, 0-1, 0:52
3rd – Robert Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 1-0, 1-0
5th – Toby Erickson, East Helena, Mont. (New York AC/USOEC) inj. dft. over Tyrell Fortune, Portland, Ore. (Grand Canyon WC)
7th – Jake Kettler, Anoka, Minn. (Patriot Elite WC) dec. Sam Stoll, Kasson, Minn. (Team Unit), 2-0, 2-0

2013 U.S. World Team Trials qualifiers at 120 kg/264.5 pounds in Greco-Roman

’12 Olympic Team Trials Champion – Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
’12 Olympic Team Trials second place – Toby Erickson, East Helena, Montana (NYAC)
’13 GR U.S. Open Champion – David Arendt Jr., Camp Lejeune, N.C. (U.S. Marines)
’13 GR U.S. Open second place – Erik Nye, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
’13 GR U.S. Open third place – Robert Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’13 GR U.S. Open fourth place – Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
’13 GR U.S. Open fifth place – Toby Erickson, East Helena, Mont. (New York AC/USOEC)
’13 GR U.S. Open sixth place – Tyrell Fortune, Portland, Ore. (Grand Canyon WC)
’13 GR U.S. Open seventh place – Jake Kettler, Anoka, Minn. (Patriot Elite WC)
’13 GR University National Champion – Orry Elor, Walnut Creek, Calif. (USOEC)
’13 GR University National second place – Parker Betts, St. Michael, Minn. (Minnesota Storm/USOEC)
’13 Northern Plains Regional Champion – Christopher Pierce, Lemont Furnace, Pa. (YES Wrestling)
’13 Northern Plains Regional Champion – Parker Betts, St. Michael, Minn. (Minnesota Storm/USOEC)
’12 Haparanda Cup third place – Erik Nye, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
’12 Haavisto Cup Champion – Robbie Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
Wildcard Selection –
Past Olympic Team member –
Past World Team member –

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