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|Warren reaches Greco-Roman finals of World Championships; Durlacher, Lester still alive in medal chase|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
GUANGZHOU, China - Not many people were expecting much from the United States Greco-Roman Team entering the first session of the World Championships.
After all, two of the three Americans competing on the first day of the event had very difficult first-round draws against a World champion and a World silver medalist.
But that didn't stop the U.S. trio of Joe Warren, Lindsey Durlacher and Harry Lester, who combined to compile an 8-2 record during an impressive showing Monday at the Tianhe Sports Center.
Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) won four straight matches, including victories over a World gold, silver and bronze medalist, to reach the championship match at 60 kg/132 pounds. Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) reached the semifinals at 55 kg/121 pounds and Lester won his first match at 66 kg/145.5 pounds.
Durlacher and Lester (Akron, Ohio/USOEC/Gator WC) will wrestle back later Monday with each still having a chance to earn as high as a bronze medal. Three weight classes will be contested each day at the seven-day event. All matches in a particular weight class are completed in one day.
Warren downed World bronze medalist Eusebiu Diaconu of Romania 1-1, 2-1 in the semifinals. That match came just a few short minutes after his gritty 4-1, 2-0 win over Russia's Vyacheslav Djaste in the quarterfinals. Warren will meet Georgia's David Bedinadze in the finals.
"I'm not satisfied until I win," Warren said. "(Coaches) Momir (Petkovic) and Shawn (Sheldon) have helped me so much. I haven't made any mistakes. One more match and I can go home with what I want. A gold medal, baby."
Warren knocked off past World champion Dilshod Aripov of Uzbekistan in a first-round match at 60 kg/132 lbs. before Lester followed just a couple minutes later by stunning World silver medalist Kim Min Chul in the first round at 66 kg/145.5 pounds.
Durlacher lit the early fire for the veteran United States squad by winning his first match with a win over China's Huafeng Jiao. Durlacher followed by downing Cuba's Yagniel Hernandez in the second round and Denmark's Anders Nyblom in the quarterfinals.
Durlacher nearly pulled off a big shocker in the semifinals before falling 5-3, 3-2 to 2005 World champion Hamid Sourian of Iran. Durlacher appeared to execute a throw worth three points in the second period, but was given only a point by officials.
"It's like boxing. You have to beat a champion decisively," Durlacher said. "If there is any question, it always goes to the champion. There is no question I got three on that throw. When you get that kind of exposure, it is three points. They reviewed it. They cheated. I now have to wrestle back and fulfill my commitment by winning a World medal. They cheated me out of my possible World gold medal. It is unfortunate, but I will come back and go for a World medal tonight."
Lester fell to Kamatbek Begaliev of Kyrgysztan on a last-second turn in the second round, but Lester earned a chance to wrestle back later in the day since Begaliev advanced to the finals.
The U.S. team started the day by winning its first five matches before Lester's loss.
In the first upset of the first round by Team USA, Warren dropped the first period before coming back determined to win the final two periods over Aripov by identical 3-1 scores. Warren was the aggressor throughout the match. Warren followed by beating World silver medalist Ali Ashkani of Iran 2-1, 1-1 in the second round.
Lester followed with an impressive debut of his own in earning a wild decision over Chul, who placed second in the World last year. Lester dropped the first period, but put up big points in winning the final two periods 5-4 and 8-0. Lester hit a pair of textbook front headlocks in the second and third periods en route to his big win.
Lester was locked in a 1-1 tie with Begaliev in the second round and needed to avoid getting turned in the final 30 seconds to prevail. Begaliev gained a two-point turn with just seven seconds left to win the period 3-1 and advance to the quarterfinals.
The tournament continues Tuesday with the Greco-Roman competition at 74 kg/163 pounds, 84 kg/185 pounds and 96 kg/211.5 pounds. Americans T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), Jacob Clark (Okinawa, Japan/U.S. Marine Corps) and Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) will compete Tuesday. Dantzler will be at 74 kg, Clark at 84 kg and Ruiz at 96 kg. Ruiz won a bronze medal in this event in 2005.