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|U.S. Nationals Greco-Roman preview at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
2002 World champion Dremiel Byers of the U.S. Army continues to control this weight division, having made the last two U.S. World Teams after the retirement of two-time Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner. During the years that Byers and Gardner battled each other, both were very successful. Since Gardner left the scene, Byers has held a significant edge over American opponents.
Byers did not win a medal at the last two World Championships, so his focus has been on returning to top form at the international tournaments. He won the Sunkist Kids International, the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Armed Forces Championships so far this year, and swept all three matches at the World Cup. He is trying to find the secret that allowed him to be the best in the world almost five years ago.
His top challenger has been Russ Davie of the New York AC, who was second to Byers at the U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials the last two years. Davie has one win over Byers on a foreign tour a few winters ago, but has not been able to get any wins in their many recent battles. Davie is getting extensive international experience, something that should help in his battles with other Americans. He won the New York AC Holiday International, an event Byers didn't enter this year.
The rest of the field is seeking to take the next step and challenge for a spot in the finals behind the Big Two. Jake Marquart from the USOEC program has shown improvement in Senior level events, after age-group success in the past. He won bronze medals at both the New York AC Holiday International and the Sunkist Kids International Open.
Frank Workman of the U.S. Marines, No. 3 on the national team last year, has been stationed overseas on assignment for the Marines and has not competed this year. If Workman returns at all this year, he will need to do some catching up to return to his top form.
Brandon Ruiz of the Sunkist Kids remains active at this weight. The older brother of U.S. World Team member Justin Ruiz, he has considerable experience but has not been able to get past either Davie or Byers.
Others in the field are Gabe Beauparthy of Colorado, Timothy Taylor of the U.S. Army, Mark Simmonds of the U.S. Navy, Everette McDaniel of the U.S. Army and James Hollis of West Point. These wrestlers will all jostle for position in Las Vegas, seeking to earn All-American status and climb as high as possible in the rankings. Of this group, Taylor has been the most active, and could go deep into the bracket with a few early wins.
There is opportunity here for a college wrestler or age-group competitor to make an impact in Las Vegas with a good performance.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
1st - Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) dec. Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 3-0, 4-0
3rd - Frank Workman, Spotsylvania, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. Brandon Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 2-3, 2-2, 1-1
5th - Jake Marquart, Marquette, Mich. (USOEC) pin Mark Simmonds, Minneapolis, Minn. (U.S. Navy), 0:26
7th - Gabe Beauparthy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (unattached) dec. James Hollis, Turlock, Calif. (West Point), 1-1, 3-1
TheMat.com rankings at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. for February 2007
1. Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
2. Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
3. Jake Marquart, Marquette, Mich. (USOEC)
4. Frank Workman, Spotsylvania, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps)
5. Brandon Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
6. Gabe Beauparthy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (unattached)
7. Timothy Taylor, Fountain, Colo. (U.S. Army)
8. Mark Simmonds, Minneapolis, Minn. (U.S. Navy)
9. Everette McDaniel, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
10. James Hollis, Turlock, Calif. (West Point)