|U.S. Army crowns three Greco-Roman champions at Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open|
By John Fuller USA Wrestling
Tempe, Ariz. - The U.S. Army World-Class Athlete Program (WCAP) has been very strong in Greco-Roman wrestling over the years, but this weekend at the 21st Annual Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open at Wells Fargo Arena, the Army wrestlers showed their dominance, winning three gold medals and eight medals overall.
The U.S. Army won the team title in Greco-Roman competition.
The three champions for the U.S. Army were Jess Hargrave (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 74 kg/163 lbs., former U.S. World Team member Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Hargrave defeated teammate Brandon McNab (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 6-0, 3-0 in the gold-medal bout. It was perhaps the biggest win of Hargrave's career to date as he has never won an international gold medal before.
Sieracki, who has won four U.S. Nationals titles and competed in the 2001 World Championships, downed up-and-coming star John Wechter (East Lansing, Mich./Sunkist Kids), 5-0, 6-1 in the finals. This was the first time Sieracki won a gold medal at this tournament since 1995.
Byers beat Russ Davie (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 2-0, 3-1 on his way to the gold medal. Byers and Davie have met numerous times in the past year, including in the finals of the U.S. Nationals and the U.S. World Team Trials, both events which Byers won.
Byers was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
2005 U.S. World Team member Joe Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) dominated his competition in winning gold at 60 kg/132 lbs.
Warren, who placed ninth at the World Championships, pinned Jeremiah Davis (Chula Vista, Calif./USOEC/Sunkist Kids) in the first period of the finals bout.
Three young wrestlers captured their first gold medal at the Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open, and all three defeated veterans to get to the top of the medal podium.
At 55 kg/121 lbs., 21 year-old Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill./USOEC/New York AC), a student-athlete at the U.S. Olympic Education Center program at Northern Michigan Univ., defeated U.S. World Team member Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 2-1, 6-2 in the finals. Betterman has faced Durlacher numerous times in his young career, but this was his first victory over the veteran.
Mark Rial (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) downed former U.S. National Team member Marcel Cooper (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. after Cooper was penalized for his third caution. In the new Greco-Roman rules, a wrestler is given a caution if he does not score in the 30-second reverse lift position. Three cautions will disqualify a wrestler from that match.
At 96 kg/211.5 lbs., R.C. Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), only 23 years old, also won a match by disqualification. Johnson's win came over 34 year-old Al Sankey (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army).
Warren, Rial and Johnson are all resident-athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Winning bronze medals were Spenser Mango (Flourissant, Mo./USOEC/Gator WC) at 55 kg, Moriyama Shinichiro of Japan at 60 kg, 2004 Olympian Oscar Wood (Fountain, Colo./U.S. Army) at 66 kg, Cheney Haight (Orem, Utah/USOEC/New York AC) at 74 kg, Brad Ahearn (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 84 kg, Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif./USOEC/Gator WC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and Brandon Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg."