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U-S-A! U-S-A! Americans win four gold medals on first day of Dave Schultz Memorial International



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Jared Lawrence knocked off a World champion.

Americans Brad Vering, Clint Wattenberg and Justin Ruiz followed with impressive performances of their own.

It was a superb start for the United States on Friday as the Dave Schultz Memorial International kicked off before a packed house at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The U.S. won half of the eight weight classes - two in freestyle and two in Greco-Roman - that were contested on Friday. The Dave Schultz Memorial event continues Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center with the final three weight classes in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. All seven women's freestyle divisions will be contested on Saturday.

Lawrence pulled out a wild 0-3, 4-0, 3-3 finals win over 2005 World champion Alan Dudaev of Russia at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. With the freestyle match tied at one period apiece, Lawrence drove in on a double-leg shot and exposed Dudaev's back near the mat's edge to take a 3-0 lead with 56 seconds left.

The dangerous and explosive Dudaev fought back gamely, countering a Lawrence shot and turning him for two exposure points with 41 seconds to go. Dudaev then fired in on a textbook single-leg shot and dumped Lawrence to the mat to tie it 3-3 with 17 seconds left. Dudaev was unable to turn Lawrence, who won the period and the match by virtue of scoring a three-point move.

"He has an incredible chest lock," Lawrence said. "But I figured if I could keep on him, I could come back for the win. I am satisfied with the win, it doesn't matter if it is one point or 10 points. He was a good opponent who beat me a year ago."

In a battle of World champions in Greco-Roman, Bulgaria's Nikolay Gergov beat Korea's Ji-Hyun Jung 5-0, 2-1 at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Gergov launched Jung with a spectacular five-point throw in the opening period to seize command.

In the Greco-Roman finals at 74 kg/163 lbs., Kazakhstan's Roman Melyoshin caught China's Yongxiang Chang on his back early and nearly pinned him en route to a 5-0, 4-2 win.

In the freestyle finals at 74 kg/163 lbs., Bulgaria's Mihail Petrov dropped the first period 1-0, but came back to win the second before he pinned a visibly fatigued Murad Gadzhimuradov of Russia early in the deciding period.

Vering downed Justin Millard 4-2, 3-2 in an all-American Greco-Roman finals at 84 kg/185 lbs. A determined, hard-charging Vering scored an early turn and scored the eventual winning point in the second period on a reversal.

"This was one of the best Schultz tournaments ever," Vering said. "The depth of the competition was great. 84 kg was a small bracket but challenging. I started with the Bulgarian, then had a tough Korean, then wrestled Justin Millard. Anytime you get a win, that's good."

In a rematch of the semifinals of the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials, Wattenberg beat Lee Fullhart 2-0, 1-0 in freestyle at 84 kg/185 lbs. Nobody scored in the first two minutes of the second period and Fullhart won the coin flip. But Fullhart was unable to finish in the leg clinch as Wattenberg countered effectively to avoid being scored on. That gave Wattenberg the period and the match.

Wattenberg beat Fullhart in the 2006 Trials before he ended up second to Andy Hrovat.

"I felt really good against Lee in the finals," Wattenberg said. "I felt solid, strong and I controlled the positions. I felt I did a real strong job. My conditioning is better than the past. I was OK with that."

Ruiz avenged a loss from last year's Schultz event by blanking Adam Wheeler 2-0, 2-0 in the Greco-Roman finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

"You have to get up every time you wrestle," Ruiz said. "He is one of those wrestlers who gets better. We go back and forth. I know I have to show up to beat him. I try to get up for him like every other match and work on small progressive goals."

In the freestyle finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., Russia's Georgy Keteov downed Nick Preston by injury default in the second period.

2006 World champion Li Yanyan of China was upset in the Greco-Roman quarterfinals at 66 kg/145. lbs. Finland's Jarkko Ala-Huikku, a past Junior World bronze medalist, swept the match 5-0, 3-0.

CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

66 kg/145.5 lbs. Greco-Roman
Nikolay Gergov (Bulgaria) dec. Ji-Hyun Jung (Korea), 5-0, 2-1

66 kg/145.5 lbs. freestyle
Jared Lawrence, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) dec. Alan Dudaev (Russia), 0-3, 4-0, 3-3

74 kg/163 lbs. Greco-Roman
Roman Melyoshin (Kazakhstan) dec. Yongxiang Chang (China), 5-0, 4-2

74 kg/163 lbs. freestyle
Mihail Petrov Ganev (Bulgaria) pinned Murad Gadzhimuradov (Russia), 0-1, 1-1, pin 0:32

84 kg/185 lbs. Greco-Roman
Brad Vering, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Justin Millard, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force), 4-2, 3-2

84 kg/185 lbs. freestyle
Clint Wattenberg, Ithaca, N.Y. (New York AC) dec. Lee Fullhart, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC), 2-0, 1-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. Greco-Roman
Justin Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Adam Wheeler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC), 2-0, 2-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. freestyle
Georgy Keteov (Russia) won by injury default over Nick Preston, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids), 2-1, injury default
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