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|U.S. Nationals Greco-Roman preview at 60 kg/132 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Joe Warren of the New York AC put together the best tournament of his life as he stormed through the 2006 World Championships last year on the way to the gold medal. He became only the fifth U.S. World champion in Greco-Roman in history. It was only his second visit to the World Championships, after placing ninth at the 2005 World Championships. It took Warren a number of years paying his dues behind stars such as Olympians Jim Gruenwald and Dennis Hall to get his chance, and he is making the most of it at this time.
The self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet" has continued his torrid wrestling this winter, with a strong effort at the World Cup. Warren is confident that he can defend his World title this year in Azerbaijan. He has dominated his American opponents, and hopes to maintain that edge moving forward.
The returning national champion is Jeremiah Davis, who Warren defeated in the finals at the World Team Trials in two matches. Davis was also second on the mats to Warren in Las Vegas last year, but received the title when Warren's win was taken away for a positive doping test. Davis has not competed much this season, so it will be interesting to see how he does this year.
Joe Betterman of the New York AC hopes to have the opportunity to knock Warren off in Las Vegas. Betterman, who moved up to this weight division a little more than a year ago, has steadily improved at the USOEC program. He had considerable success on the age-group levels. Betterman was third at the New York AC Holiday Open this year.
Also coming off a strong season last year was Nathan Piasecki, who climbed to No. 3 on the national ladder with a strong effort at the World Team Trials. Piasecki beat Betterman in the National Team Challenge match at the World Team Trials but lost to Davis in the semifinals of the tournament. Piasecki also beat Davis in the finals of the University Nationals last year.
James Johnson of the U.S. Army was sixth at the U.S. Nationals last year. Johnson won a gold medal at the Sunkist Kids International, and has been ranked as high as No. 3 on the national ladder a few seasons ago.
The 2007 Armed Forces champion is Jeremy McLean of the U.S. Marines. McLean was sixth at last year's U.S. Nationals and has gotten considerable international experience in recent seasons. Another U.S. Marines wrestler, Donny DePatto, has been competing often, and will be a contender for All-American status at the U.S. Nationals.
The USOEC program has provided a number of wrestlers who add depth Chris Iorio, Kerry Regner, Marco Lara, Chaz Tillman and others. Iorio was fourth at the New York AC Holiday International this year. Another World Team Trials qualifier is Chad Van Diver, who hopes to be a placewinner at the U.S. Nationals this season.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 60 kg/132 lbs.
1st -Jeremiah Davis, El Cajon, Calif. (USOEC/Sunkist Kids)
2nd - Joe Betterman, Chicago, Ill. (USOEC/New York AC) dec. Marco Lara, Long Beach, Calif. (USOEC/New York AC), 2-1, 1-1
4th - Kerry Regner, Darlington, Pa. (USOEC) dec. James Johnson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 3-0, 0-6, 3-0
6th - Jeremy McLean, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. Chaz Tillman, Howell, Mich. (USOEC), 0-3, 2-1, 5-0
TheMat.com rankings at 60 kg/132 lbs. for February 2007
1. Joe Warren, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
2. Joe Betterman, Chicago, Ill. (USOEC/New York AC)
3. James Johnson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
4. Jeremiah Davis, El Cajon, Calif. (USOEC/Sunkist Kids)
5. Nathan Piasecki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
6. Jeremy McLean, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
7. Donny DePatto, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
8. Chris Iorio, Holbrook, N.Y. (New York AC)
9. Kerry Regner, Darlington, Pa. (USOEC/Angry Fish)
10. Chad VanDiver, Roscoe, Ill. (Attrition WC)