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|Ruiz eliminated while Dantzler, Clark still alive on second day of World Championships|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
GUANGZHOU, China - Nobody expected the United States Greco-Roman team to match their magical three-medal performance from Day 1 of the World Championships.
But the U.S. team remains in the mix of the team chase after an up-and-down start to the second day of the competition on Tuesday at the Tianhe Sports Center.
Returning World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) was eliminated, but teammates T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) and Jacob Clark (Okinawa, Japan/U.S. Marine Corps) remain alive. Both can still come back to win bronze medals in the Repechage late Tuesday afternoon.
The Americans had a phenomenal first day on Monday as Joe Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) won a gold medal at 60 kg/132 pounds, Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) won a bronze medal at 55 kg/121 pounds and Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio/USOEC/Gator WC) won a bronze medal at 66 kg/145.5 pounds.
The Americans have the lead in the team standings and can stay there if Dantzler and Clark can come back strong later in the day Tuesday. 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) will compete in the final Greco-Roman weight class at 120 kg/264.5 pounds on Wednesday.
Dantzler lost a tough, three-period quarterfinal at 74 kg/163 pounds to past World Champion and Olympic silver medalist Marko Yli-Hannuksela of Finland in the quarters. Yli-Hannuksela made the finals, giving Dantzler a chance to come back.
"That match (against Yli-Hannuksela), I got into some positions I'm used to being in, common positions for me," Dantzler said. "Marko is strong in those positions. I thought I was better than him there. He was better than me in that situation. I let my ego get in the way. I should have bailed out of some of those positions.
"I felt I was right on target. I got into some unfamiliar situations with the top wrestlers in the World. I can get away with that with the top in the USA. I was wrestling somebody with a World title and two or three medals. It's a different ballgame against him."
Clark lost in the first round to past World Champion Nazmi Avluca of Turkey in a tough, three-period match at 84 kg/185 pounds, but Avluca made the finals and Clark now has a chance to come back on Tuesday afternoon. He would need three wins to earn a bronze medal. Clark is competing in his first World meet.
"I made some mistakes on my part," Clark said following the setback. "After the match, I look back and think what if I could do that? I think I could have stopped him. Really, it is a bunch of whats and ifs. That is just the way it went. It is better to have the control in my hands than to wait it out and see if I can get it done. There is a lot of confusion now.
"I know he is a tough guy. I feel I could beat him. You should feel that way. Now he gets to control my fate to see if I have a chance to go for a medal. I was his biggest enemy a minute ago, and now I'm his biggest fan."
Ruiz lost to Korea's Young Han Tae 3-0, 1-1, 1-1 in the second round at 96 kg/211.5 pounds. Ruiz lost all three coin flips in the match and that cost him in the final two periods when neither wrestler could turn the other. The Korean won both periods by virtue of scoring last. Ruiz was then eliminated when the Korean wrestler lost in the quarterfinals.
"In my first match, I won both flips," Ruiz said. "I was also able to score a point in one of those periods. Against the Korean, I didn't get it done. It went to the coin flip. It is usually a 50-50 proposition, but unfortunately for me, it didn't flip for me. I didn't get it done on my feet. A couple of times, I got into good positions and he was wearing down. But I didn't get it into a scoring position. From the top, I couldn't get my lift, and I didn't get my lock. There were some mistakes that cost me the match."
"I think my preparation went well. I felt good going into the tournament. I just didn't have a strong scoring attack on top. It cost me. That is something I have to work on this year."
Day 3 of the seven-day tournament continues Wednesday with the final Greco-Roman weight class at 120 kg//264.5 pounds, and the first two men's freestyle weight classes at 55 kg/121 pounds and 60 kg/132 pounds. Byers will compete at 120 kg in Greco-Roman while 1998 World Champion Sammie Henson (Flintstone, Ga./Sunkist Kids) will compete at 55 kg in freestyle and World newcomer Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) will compete at 60 kg in freestyle.