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Medal count stands at three for American Greco-Roman team at World Championships; U.S. still has the unofficial lead in the team race



GUANGZHOU, China - The medal count still stands at three for the United States Greco-Roman wrestling team at the World Championships.

T.C. Dantzler came up just short in his quest to win his first World-level medal as he lost a heartbreaking, three-period battle with World Champion Manuchar Krirkvelia of Georgia in the bronze-medal match at 74 kg/163 pounds on Tuesday night at the Tianhe Sports Center. Dantzler finishes in fifth place.

The Americans are still very much in the team race and have the unofficial lead with 32 points with one weight class remaining. Turkey is second with 31 points and Georgia is third with 29 points. The highest team finish for the U.S. in Greco-Roman was third in 2001.

The U.S. sends 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) to the mat on Wednesday in the final Greco-Roman class. Byers will compete at 120 kg/264.5 pounds on Wednesday. The U.S. has never won more than three medals in Greco-Roman at a World Championships.

Champions crowned on Tuesday were Ukraine's Volodym Shatskym at 74 kg/163 pounds and Egypt's Mohamed Abdelfatah at 84 kg/185 pounds and Estonia's Heiki Nabi at 96 kg/211.5 pounds.

Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) won the first period 1-1 before Krirkvelia rallied to take the last two periods 2-1, 5-0. Dantzler looked to be in control after winning the first period and winning the coin flip in the second. But the Georgia wrestler scored a reversal at the 1:14 mark of the second period to gain control.

"I lost to two World champs," Dantzler said. "Those are the people you train year-round to beat. It's a bit of a letdown. Not that this is no chump tournament, but those guys you train to beat. Both matches I had them beat and they got away. Like Christmas in September.

"I felt like every match I came off the mat and left it all there. In this tournament, every match could be my last match. I wanted them to know my name before I left China. If not for my spectacular moves, for my passion. I look around and see guys with three or four World titles who didn't do as well as I did."

American Jacob Clark fell one match short of wrestling in the bronze-medal match at 84 kg/185 pounds. Clark (Okinawa, Japan/U.S. Marine Corps) won his first Repechage match over Sandor Bardosi of Hungary before falling 5-2, 3-1 to Saman Tahmasebi of Iran.

"It was nice to get that second shot," Clark said. "You lose, and you put your fate in somebody else's hands. He made it to the finals, and I am grateful for the second chance. I wish I had done more with it. It is good that I am not so happy about that.

"I felt good. I only had one match going in, and I wasn't tired. If I lose that match, I'm 0-2 and it doesn't look good. Here, everybody you wrestle is good. I wish I could have gotten a medal or something to help the team standings. I wasn't just wrestling for myself. I wanted to seal the deal for the team, and have everybody go home with something. I am disappointed with that."

Returning World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) was eliminated after losing in the second round at 96 kg/211.5 pounds.

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.

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. Yli-Hannuksela made the finals, giving Dantzler a chance to come back.

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 to give Clark a chance to come back on Tuesday afternoon.

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.

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.
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