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|DAY 7 NOTES: Graff making impact again in Fargo|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
FARGO, N.D. - Colorado's Tyler Graff knew New Jersey's Mike Grey was a returning Junior National champion in freestyle.
But Graff, a Cadet National champion in freestyle last year, knew little else about the Lehigh recruit.
Not that it mattered.
Graff was in control from start to finish in their 125-pound match late Friday morning, staying on the attack offensively en route to a 4-1, 3-2 win in one of the final matches of the day's first session.
Graff followed with a win over another Junior National champion, Greco-Roman champion Shawn Jones of Idaho, late Friday afternoon in freestyle. That win put Graff in Saturday morning's finals against Washington's Michael Mangrum, who also won a Cadet National title in freestyle last year. Graff won Cadets at 112 in 2005 and Mangrum won Cadets at 119.
Grey, who was upset earlier in the day by Tyler Caldwell of Kansas, was knocked out of the tournament after his loss to Graff. Grey won the High School Senior Nationals earlier this year and became New Jersey's first four-time state champion in 2006.
"I just stayed in good position, used good set-ups and good finishes, that was the key against Grey," said Graff, a two-time state champion who has two years of high school left. "I had never wrestled him and really didn't know much about what style he wrestles. I've heard his name a lot and I wanted to see what he was really."
Graff, from Loveland, Colo., has rattled off nine straight wins in freestyle. Graff was scheduled to meet another returning Junior National champion, Shawn Jones of Idaho, on Friday afternoon.
"You can't look past anybody and you have to wrestle hard every time you go out there," Graff said. "I treat every match like it's the finals."
Graff has made a smooth transition from Cadets to Juniors this year. He placed a respectable fourth in freestyle at April's FILA Junior Nationals in Las Vegas.
One of Graff's coaches is Steve Knight, who was an All-American during his days at Iowa State and was a three-time Junior National champion.
"He's been a big help and helped train me for this tournament," Graff said. "He's done a lot for me."
World Team holding autograph session
Members of the 2006 U.S. World Team held an autograph session Friday afternoon in the FargoDome.
The seven-member freestyle team is holding a training camp in Fargo this week in conjunction with Junior and Cadet Nationals. The team will compete at the World Championships in September in Guangzhou, China.
Coming Up: Junior National freestyle finals cap eight-day event
The world's largest wrestling tournament will come to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday with the finals of the Junior Nationals in freestyle.
The eight-day event will finish with the final round for Junior National freestyle wrestlers at 10 a.m.
This session was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.
The 9 a.m. session that was on the schedule (Session V) has been cancelled. The matches planned for that session will be completed during the 3 p.m. session on Friday afternoon.