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Heskett v Cunningham is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website



USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .

The featured match this week is the 2007 Joe Heskett vs. Casey Cunningham championship series finals match in men's freestyle wrestling at 74 kg/163 lbs. at the United States Marine Corps U.S. World Team Trials in Las Vegas, Nev.

Neither of these athletes had ever made a U.S. Senior World Team, so the winner would be earning the right to compete in their first World Championships for the United States. Both had been very close before.

Cunningham, a high school star in Michigan, became the first NCAA Div. I national wrestling champion for Central Michigan Univ. He was very successful in freestyle wrestling in USA Wrestling's age-group programs, and became a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center while pursuing international freestyle success.

Cunningham placed second at the 2002 U.S. World Team Trials, losing to Joe Williams in the championship finals. He was second at the 2002 U.S. Nationals and won a medal in a handful of international tournament. After placing fifth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Cunningham retired from competition to pursue his career as an assistant wrestling coach at his alma mater Central Michigan.

Heskett, a high school star in Ohio, became a NCAA Div. I champion at Iowa State Univ., a three-time finalist and a four-time All-American. He was also an age-group freestyle wrestling star, winning a Cadet World medal as a youth and a Pan American Championships medal while in college.

In 2003, Heskett reached the World Team Trials finals against Williams and placed second. The result was the same at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, when Williams qualified for the Athens Games by defeating Heskett in the final match.

Heskett made a commitment to another Olympic Games four-year cycle, and continued to work as a college assistant coach. He was on the coaching staff at Cal-Poly SLO for a few seasons, before joining the Ohio State coaching staff in the spring of 2006. Heskett did not reach the finals of the World Team Trials in the two years after the Olympic Trials, with his best finish being third in 2006. He was injured in 2005 and could not challenge for the spot.

In early 2007, Cunningham made a comeback, winning the Northeast Regional title. At the 2007 U.S. Nationals, Cunningham's return proved to be serious, as he qualified for the gold-medal finals against Heskett. The winner would capture his first U.S. Nationals title. Heskett won a close battle.

At the United States Marine Corps U.S. World Team Trials, both athletes emerged from the Challenge Tournament for another showdown in the best-of-three Championship Series. Heskett won the first match, 3-0, 3-1, but Cunningham came back to win bout two, 1-0, 4-1.

The third and deciding match went the full three periods, decided on a leg clinch.

Heskett has earned the right to compete at the 2007 World Wrestling Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. Cunningham will have to come back next season to once again pursue his goal of making the U.S. team, this time for the 2008 Olympic Games.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history. Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page was the 2007 Glenn Garrison vs. Faruk Sahin championship match in men's Greco-Roman at 66 kg/145.5 lbs at the U.S. National Championships. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.
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