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|Jared Lawrence becomes two-time champion at Dave Schultz Memorial International|
By Michelle Thilges USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Jared Lawrence, of the Minnesota Storm took home the hardware at the 2007 Dave Schultz Memorial International Friday night.
Lawrence also won the championship in 2005.
The 66 kg/145.5 pound wrestler beat 2005 World champion Alan Dudaev of Russia in the finals. With 16 seconds left in the first period, Dudaev scored a takedown and ended the period 3-0. Lawrence came back in the second period and won 4-0.
The third period came down to the wire with Lawrence taking the win because of a three-point takedown. The score was 3-3.
"I am extremely excited," said Lawrence. "There were some tough foreigners in the competition. It was a great weight class."
In his first round of action at the Dave Schultz, Lawrence defeated Gianmarco Bevilacqua of Italy by a technical fall, 6-0, 7-0. Lawrence moved into the quarterfinals by again scoring a technical fall against Babak Mohammald, 7-0, 6-0.
In the quarterfinal match, Lawrence defeated Yokoyama Futoshi of Japan 3-0, 6-0. Lawrence made his way into the championship round by overthrowing Jin-kuk Baek of Korea. The wrestlers were scoreless at the end of the first period. Lawrence won the leg clinch and took down Baek to win the period 3-0. Lawrence trailed 2-1 in the second period, but with seven seconds left, scored a takedown to win the period by scoring the last point.
The Dave Schultz championships is important to Lawrence not only because it helps determine the seeds for the U.S. Nationals, but also because it is a chance to compete against foreign athletes and World and Olympic champions.
"Half of the people here (at the Dave Schultz) are foreigners," he said. "They are more laid back. With U.S. wrestlers, we are taught to score takedowns. The foreigners want to score points from your takedown."
U.S. National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson said wrestling even one match will help wrestlers.
"You learn about yourself; about your ability and your potential for upcoming matches," said Jackson.
The 66 kg weight class keeps Lawrence in top shape for tournaments. The weight class was the most heavily loaded at the tournament on Friday. Wrestlers in this weight class included Americans Jesse Jantzen, the 2005 University World champion, and Zack Esposito, 2005 NCAA champion, and foreigners Jin-kuk Baek, 2005 Asian champion.
Jared Lawrence had a great experience being an alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. Lawrence said the Olympics gave him courage in his wrestling career.
"I was young during the Olympics," said Lawrence. "I was just a year out of college. There is a big difference between freestyle and college wrestling. If I was an alternate then, I should be looking good for 2008."
Lawrence has seen continued success by winning the New York AC Holiday Championships and the Henri Deglane Challenge in 2006. Lawrence was also the champion at the Dave Schultz Championships in 2005.
Getting to the No. 1 spot on the U.S. freestyle team is one of Lawrence's goals for the upcoming year. Currently, Lawrence is ranked No. 3.
Jackson said he has high expectations for Lawrence in the upcoming year.
"He has to commit to wrestling and continue to improve," he said. "He will need to continue to work in the areas he is strong at and get stronger and fine-tune his weaker areas. He is a legitimate threat for the World Team."
Gordy Morgan, coach of the Minnesota Storm, said Lawrence's strength and love of wrestling are his strong points.
"He puts a huge amount of effort into wrestling. He has always been like that," said Morgan. "He is a very gifted person and his work ethic is great."
Lawrence said the hardest thing about training in Minnesota is the lack of freestyle wrestlers to practice against. He is the graduate assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, and helps train with the college athletes.
"We have few guys that wrestle freestyle," said Lawrence. "We don't have coaches that really push the technical aspect as they do here (at the U.S. Olympic Training Center). That is where I am lacking."
Morgan said the time in Minnesota gives Lawrence a good training environment and time to improve on his status with USA Wrestling.
"He has always been close to the top," said Morgan. "He is a premier wrestler in the world and it doesn't surprise me he is doing this well this year. I fully expect him to make the World team and earn a gold medal."
Lawrence is looking to continue his success throughout the year.
"I started good in the fall and took a break over Christmas," said Lawrence. "This has been a great start in the spring and I hope to continue in Ukraine and in the trials."