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U.S. Nationals Freestyle Preview at 74 kg/163 lbs.



It was a breakthrough season in freestyle for two-time NCAA champion Donny Pritzlaff, who won the U.S. Nationals and U.S. World Team Trials before earning a surprise bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou, China.

Pritzlaff (Madison, Wis./New York AC) has wrestled extensively overseas already this year and is a guy capable of being a fixture at the 74 kg/163 pound weight class for the next few years.

Veteran Joe Heskett (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC), who has battled Pritzlaff for a number of years in both folkstyle and freestyle, is sitting at No. 2 in this class after 2006 U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Tyrone Lewis bumped up to 84 kg/185 pounds. Heskett was third at the 2006 World Team Trials.

A slew of veterans - Ramico Blackmon (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), Scott Owen (Annapolis, Md./New York AC) and Kirk White (Boise, Idaho/Bronco WC) - occupy spots 3-5 in the rankings in this division. Blackmon placed third at the Schultz event while Owen beat White in the finals of the Sunkist Kids tournament.

Travis Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), who just completed his college career at Iowa State, is No. 6 in this class. Paulson placed fourth at last year's World Team Trials and is a top international prospect.

Travis' twin brother, Trent Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), upset past World medalist Joe Williams in the first round of the 2006 World Team Trials. Trent has said he may eventually try to cut down to 66 kg/145.5 lbs. for freestyle or compete in Greco-Roman at 74 kg/163 lbs. Trent Paulson won an NCAA title earlier this month at 157 pounds to cap his career at Iowa State.

Williams (DeKalb, Ill./Sunkist Kids) is expected to bump up a class to 84 kg/185 lbs.

2006 U.S. NATIONALS RESULTS
1st - Donny Pritzlaff, Northport, N.Y. (New York AC) dec. Joe Williams, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids), 1-0, 0-3, 1-0
3rd - Tyrone Lewis, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC) dec. Joe Heskett, Grover Beach, Calif. (Gator WC), 4-0, 0-4, 1-0
5th - Ramico Blackman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Matt Gentry, Stanford, Calif. (Sunkist Kids), 0-1, 4-0, 1-0
7th - Matt Pell, Columbia, Mo. (Tiger Style Wrestling) dec. Trent Paulson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids), 3-2, 3-1

THEMAT.COM RANKINGS
1. Donny Pritzlaff, Madison, Wis. (New York AC)
2. Joe Heskett, Columbus, Ohio (Gator WC)
3. Ramico Blackman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
4. Scott Owen, Annapolis, Md. (New York AC)
5. Kirk White, Boise, Idaho (Bronco WC)
6. Travis Paulson, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Cyclone WC)
7. Ryan Churella, Evanston, Ill. (New York AC)
8. Matt Pell, Columbia, Mo. (Tiger Style Wrestling)
9. Tyron Woodley, Columbia, Mo. (Tiger WC)
10. Trent Paulson, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Cyclone WC)
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