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Ghaffari Among Greco-Roman Challenge Tournament Winners



1996 Olympic silver medalist Matt Ghaffari (Avon Lake, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) was among the eight Challenge Tournament champions, all who qualified for the Championship Series at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Wrestling at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Trailing 1-0, Ghaffari turned 1999 World Team member Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) twice for exposure points, and earned a 3-1 victory. Ghaffari will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) in the best-of-three finals series on Saturday. Ghaffari is a two-time Olympian, and has won four World or Olympic medals in his career.

Winning the Challenge Tournament at 213.75 pounds was 20-year-old Garrett Lowney (Appleton, Wis./Minnesota Storm), who scored a 4-0 win over Dave Surofchek (Colorado Springs, Colo./unattached), 4-0. Lowney will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Jason Gleasman (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) in the best-of-three series on Saturday. Lowney was a 1999 Junior World Champion and the most exciting young Greco-Roman wrestler in the nation.

Winning the Challenge Tournament at 119 pounds was Steven Mays (Pensacola, Fla./U.S. Navy) , who scored a 2-1 overtime referee's decision over two-time Olympian Shawn Sheldon (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) in the finals bout. Mays was a member of the 1999 U.S. World Team. Mays will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Brandon Paulson (Golden Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) in the best-of-three series on Saturday. Trailing early, Jim Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) stormed back to stop Duaine Martin (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines), 9-3 in the Challenge Tournament finals at 127.75 pounds. Gruenwald will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) in the best-of-three series on Saturday, June 24. Gruenwald and Hall have met in the finals of the U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials for the past three years, with Hall winning all of the meetings.

In a battle of U.S. Army teammates at 138.75 pounds, Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) scored the only point for a 1-0 overtime referee's decision over Shon Lewis (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army). Nieradka will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), in the best-of-three series on Saturday, June 24.

At 152 pounds, two-time World Team member Chris Saba (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) scored a 2-1 overtime referee's decision over Marcel Cooper (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines). Saba will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Heath Sims (Huntington Beach, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) in the best-of-three series. Saba was second in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

The 167.5 pound finals ended with an injury default, as Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) defeated T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at the 5:00 mark. Sieracki hit a five-point throw early on, and led 6-2 when the bout was stopped. Sieracki will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Matt Lindland (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) in the best-of-three series on Saturday, June 24. Sieracki was second in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

The winner at 187.25 pounds was Ethan Bosch (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), who scored a 2-0 overtime referee's decision over Kenny Owens (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines) in the Challenge Tournament finals. Bosch will face 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Quincey Clark (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm) in the best-of-three series.

A new U.S. Olympic Trials record was set during the consolation semifinals, when Brian Keck (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) and Corey Farkas, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force) battled for 26:30 before it was decided. Keck won the match, 4-3. It breaks the mark of 19:58 set by Buddy Lee and Dalen Wasmund at 136.5 pounds at the 1988 Final Olympic Qualifier in Pensacola, Fla.

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