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|Pokorny among five national champions shooting for 112-pound Junior Greco-Roman title|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
FARGO, N.D. - Nebraska's Andy Pokorny journeyed north on I-29 a couple days ago knowing the challenges and obstacles he likely would face when he arrived in Fargo.
The University of Nebraska recruit figured the 112-pound weight class would be loaded in Greco-Roman at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals.
He just didn't know it would be this loaded.
Pokorny showed his mettle in the star-studded class that includes five national champions, pinning 2005 Junior Nationals runner-up Kellan Aura of California in his third-round match late Sunday afternoon at the FargoDome.
Pokorny, a 2005 FILA Cadet National champion, is part of the power-packed 112 class that arguably is the toughest of the 15 Junior Greco-Roman divisions in Fargo.
"That was a real big win," Pokorny said. "Every win in Fargo is big, but to beat a kid like that gives me a real good boost. I knew he would be tough, but every match is tough up here. You have to be ready for everybody."
The 112 class also includes the wrestler who has to be considered the clear-cut favorite in Florida's Eric Grajales, who won the FILA Junior World Team Trials earlier this summer. Grajales also won the FILA Junior Nationals and FILA Cadet Nationals this year. He won Cadet Nationals last year in Fargo.
Also in the 112 division is double Junior National champ Boris Novachkov of California, Junior National champ Marty Eng of Oregon and Cadet National champion Bo Touris of Ohio. Novachkov won Juniors at 98 pounds last year, Eng won at 105 and Touris won Cadets at 105.
"For a couple months now, I've been hearing that 112 was going to have maybe five national champions up here and that's what happened," Pokorny said. "It does make it kind of fun to be in a weight as challenging as this one."
The 112 weight class also includes Aura and Arizona's Theron Apodaca, who was second to Grajales at the FILA Junior World Team Trials. Also in the class is Missouri's Donte Butler, Delaware's Connor McDonald and Tennessee's Demetrius Johnson. Butler was third at Junior Nationals last year and McDonald seventh. Johnson was second at FILA Cadet Nationals, but lost in the first round Sunday.
"That's why we're here, to wrestle tough kids and get better, and hopefully come up with some hardware," said Alan Pokorny, Andy's father and coach. "We knew it was going to be a very tough weight class. We thought Grajales might wrestle 105, but with him being at 112 this class is really, really tough."
Another featured early bout at 112 saw Eng sweep Apodaca 2-0, 4-0 in the fourth round Sunday. Eng and Pokorny meet in the next round on Monday.
"This is a fun tournament - I love wrestling up here," Eng said. "I'm real focused and approaching every match like it's a finals match. I love the challenge of competing in a big event like this. You can't beat it."
Pokorny, a two-time state champion who will be a senior at Bennington (Neb.) High School, led 4-0 late in the first period of his match with Aura. But Aura used a late flurry, capped by a gut-wrench near the end of the mat to tie it 4-4 and win the period by virtue of scoring last.
Pokorny was unfazed, coming back with a gut-wrench of his own in the second period. He locked his arms around Aura's waist, bridged back while lifting him and then stacked Aura on his shoulders to win the match by fall. Pokorny went 4-0 Sunday.
"That was a pretty big win for Andy," Alan Pokorny said. "He's pretty level-headed. He kept his composure and didn't fall apart after the first period. He was still confident and felt he should have won the first period. Andy has pinned two guys already today with that move and he pinned a bunch of guys at FILA Cadets with the same move."
Andy Pokorny, who also will compete in freestyle in Fargo, said it is a relief to have his college decision behind him. He committed to Nebraska coach Mark Manning earlier this month while taking part in the 2012 Future Olympian Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It's nice to not have to worry about where I'm going to school anymore," said Pokorny, an excellent student who scored a 31 on his ACT. "It's a relief to have that decision out of the way. Now I can just focus on wrestling."