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U.S. Nationals preview at 84 kg/185 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman wrestling



Brad Vering is ready for a breakthrough season. More than ready.

The former NCAA champion from Nebraska has made the last three U.S. World teams and the 2004 Olympic team in Greco-Roman wrestling at 84 kg/185 pounds. He's twice finished fifth in the World, but he is still seeking his first World or Olympic medal.

The hard-nosed, hard-working Vering, who competes for the New York Athletic Club, is seeking his fourth straight U.S. Nationals championship. Plagued by a number of injuries in recent years, the hard-working, blue-collar Vering is hungry to pick up some hardware this season.

Vering placed third at the Dave Schultz Memorial this year and recently took third at the Poland Open. He earned a key early win in Poland, downing 2003 World bronze medalist Attila Batky of Slovakia in the first round.

Vering likely will be challenged again by long-time rival Jacob Clark of the U.S. Marines, who placed second to Vering at the World Team Trials last year. Clark also was second to Vering at the 2004 Olympic Trials. Clark has done a very good job keeping ahead of the rest of the pack in his weight class, but still has yet to solve the puzzle that Vering has provided to him.

Justin Millard of the U.S. Air Force, who is just 24, has emerged as a contender in this class after placing third at the 2005 World Team Trials. Millard is one of the many young athletes in this weight class who are looking to take the next step in their careers. The U.S. Nationals offers him an opportunity to

Veteran Aaron Sieracki of the U.S. Army is ranked fourth. Sieracki did not compete last year, and actually switched his military affiliation, moving over to the Army after many years with the U.S. Air Force. He won a number of Armed Forces titles during his career, and has been nationally ranked throughout his career. Sieracki's silver medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial indicates that he is back in top form heading into the spring season.

Aaron's brother Keith Sieracki was second to Vering at 185 in Vegas last year, but is ranked second by TheMat.com at 163 pounds. Sieracki has won the U.S. Nationals four times during his career. He and his brother Aaron choose not to wrestle each other, so if Keith stays up at 185 pounds for the U.S. Nationals, don't expect these two to compete, even if they draw each other. The odds are that Keith will move down, as he has in past years.

Next in line is John Wechter of the Sunkist Kids, followed by Brad Ahearn of the U.S. Army, USOEC wrestler Chas Betts of the Minnesota Storm, USOEC wrestler Adam Haake of the Minnesota Storm, Ryan Cunningham of the U.S. Marines and Jake Plamann.

Wechter was second at the Sunkist Kids Open while Ahearn was third and Betts fifth. Cunningham is one of the Michigan Cunningham brothers, with his Casey Cunningham winning an NCAA title and placing high on the national freestyle circuit for many years.

Jeremy Pederson of the U.S. Marines also is a returning placewinner from the 2005 U.S. Nationals.

Vering has proven his mettle against some of the best in the World, and is the clear-cut favorite to represent the United States again this year at the World Championships in Guangzhou, China. Clark is the wrestler who appears to have the best shot at knocking off Vering, but nobody should count out youngsters like Millard. This weight class could see some new faces in the medal rounds, especially if some of the young wrestlers have gained enough experience to move up in the standings.

2005 U.S. NATIONALS RESULTS
1st - Brad Vering, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Keith Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 1-0, 1-0
3rd - Jake Plamann, Kaukauna, Wis., dec. Chas Betts, St. Michael, Minn. (USOEC), 3-1, 1-0
5th - John Wechter, East Lansing, Mich. (Michigan WC) dec. Brad Ahearn, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 0-3, 1-0, 1-0
7th - Justin Millard, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force) pinned Jeremy Pederson, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps), 1:00

THEMAT.COM RANKINGS FOR MARCH 2006
1. Brad Vering, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
2. Jacob Clark, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
3. Justin Millard, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force)
4. Aaron Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
5. John Wechter, East Lansing, Mich. (Unattached)
6. Brad Ahearn, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
7. Chas Betts, St. Michael, Minn. (USOEC/Minnesota Storm)
8. Adam Haake, Winona, Minn. (USOEC/Minnesota Storm)
9. Ryan Cunningham, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
10. Jake Plamann, Kaukauna, Wis. (Unattached)
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