HALL, LEWIS WIN SILVER MEDALS AT GRECO-ROMAN OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT IN COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., MARCH 5
Two U.S. wrestlers won silver medals, Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds and Shon Lewis (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds during the Greco-Roman Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 5.
It was the fourth of five Greco-Roman Olympic Qualification Tournaments held across the world from January through March. The final event will be held in Alexandria, Egypt, March 18-19. At the end of the series, seven more nations will qualify in each weight class for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
In the finals at 127.75 pounds, two-time World Champion Rifat Yildiz of Germany defeated Hall, 4-0. The first period ended tied at 0-0, and the second period began in the clinch position. Yildiz threw Hall for three points from the clinch, and received an extra point for holding Hall on his back. Hall could not score late in the match, in spite of a furious effort.
Hall won an impressive semifinal match, stopping Ali Ashkaniaghbolagh of Iran, 5-2. Hall hit a four-point throw early in the match and wrestled with dominance throughout.
Hall was a 1995 World Champion, 1996 Olympic silver medalist and 1994 World bronze medalist. With his silver medal in Colorado Springs, Hall earned 10 points for the United States toward Olympic qualification.
In the finals at 138.75 pounds, Andras Horvath of Hungary defeated Lewis, 3-2. Horvath led 3-2 at the end of the first period, with the key move being a one-point gutwrench turn late in the period. In the second period, Lewis pressed the action but could not score. With the silver medal, Lewis scored 12 points for the United States toward Olympic qualification.
Lewis wrestled an inspired semifinals, scoring the winning point in overtime to defeat Yi Shanyun of China, 3-2 in 6:40. The score was tied at 2-2 at the end of the regulation time. Lewis received the winning point in overtime when Shanyun was penalized for fleeing the mat after a strong Lewis attack.
Kevin Vogel (Temperence, Mich./Michigan WC) won a bronze medal at 167.5 pounds. He defeated Alberto Recuero of Spain in the third-place match, 4-0. Vogel earned five Olympic qualification points with his effort.
Steven Mays (Pensacola, Fla./U.S. Navy) was defeated by 1997 World Champion Ercan Yildiz of Turkey, 4-0, in the final repechage (wrestle-off) match at 119 pounds. The score was tied 0-0 after the first period, and the second period began in the clinch position. Yildiz launched Mays for a three-point throw from the clinch and held off the Mays attack for the win.
Mays placed fifth in his weight class, earning the United States seven points toward Olympic qualification.
At 152 pounds, David Zuniga (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm) placed seventh, scoring the United States 10 points toward Olympic qualification. Zuniga was completed with his competition on Saturday.
Other individual champions included Kalilov Uran of Kyrgyzstan at 119 pounds, Mohammed Babulfath of Sweden at 152 pounds, Marko Yli-Hannuksela of Finland at 167.5 pounds, Hamza Yerlikaya of Turkey at 187.25 pounds, David Soldadze of Ukraine at 213.75 pounds and Marek Sitnik of Poland at 286 pounds.
GRECO-ROMAN OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT at Colorado Springs, Colo., March 4-5
54 kg/119 lbs. - Gold: Kalilov Uran, Kyrgyzstan; Silver - Dariusz Jablonski, Poland; Bronze - Ercan Yildiz, Turkey
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Gold: Rifat Yildiz, Germany; Silver - Dennis Hall, United States; Bronze: Ali Ashkaniaghbolah, Iran
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold: Andras Horvath, Hungary; Silver: Shon Lewis, United States; Bronze: Yi Shanyun, China
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold: Mohammed Babulfath, Sweden; Silver: Ryszard Wolny, Poland; Bronze - Sai Yinjiya, China
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Gold: Marko Yli-Hannuksela, Finland; Silver - Evgueniy Erofaylov, Uzbekistan; Bronze - Kevin Vogel, United States
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Gold: Hamza Yerlikaya, Turkey; Silver: David Martinetti, Switzerland; Bronze: Marek Szustek, Poland
97 kg/213.75 lbs.- Gold: David Soldadze, Ukraine; Silver: Henri Papiashvili, Israel; Bronze: Rasoul Jazini Dorcheh, Iran
130 kg/286 lbs. - Gold: Marek Sitnik, Poland; Silver: M. Fatih Bakir, Turkey; Bronze: Eddy Bengtsson, Sweden
U.S. performances on Sunday
54 kg/119 lbs. - Steven Mays, Pensacola, Fla., 5th place, 7 qualification points - lost dec. to Ercan Yildiz, Turkey, 4-0
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis., 2nd place, 10 qualification points - dec. Ali Ashkaniaghbolagh, 5-2; lost dec. to Rifat Yildiz, Germany, 4-0
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Shon Lewis, Colorado Springs, Colo., 2nd place, 12 qualification points - dec. Yi Shanyun, China, 3-2, ot, 6:40; lost dec. to Andras Horvath, Hungary, 3-2
69 kg/152 lbs. - David Zuniga, New Brighton, Minn., 7th place, 10 qualification points - no bouts on Sunday
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Kevin Vogel, Temperence, Mich., 3rd place, 5 qualification points - dec. Alberto Recuero, Spain, 4-0
58 kg - Dennis Hall - "Every time I got on top, I couldn't get position, due to my rib injury. I gave it 150 percent of what I had. I'm trying to put it together. I wasn't even able to warm up due to my injury. In the clinch, the guy tripped me and got the points. After that, I was just trying to make it through the match."
63 kg - Shon Lewis - "I came into the tournament with confidence. My par terre (mat) offense wasn't good in this match and it cost me. I let him initiate at the beginning of the match, and he got his rhythm going. I should have broken his rhythm first. I believe this will help clinch our weight class for the Olympics, which is important, but I wish I would have won, because I wanted to hear the national anthem in my home town."
85 kg - Kevin Vogel - "Personally, it was a very big win for me. He beat me last year in Sweden. I just stuck to my game plan. He's strong with the power-duck, and my style was not to go to his head too early."
U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman head coach Dan Chandler - "This was a tough tournament. We had guys go 2-1 and they are out of the tournament, because the field was so small. Our back is against the wall. We will have to qualify at the Pan American Championships. At the Pan Ams, we will have to beat guys who are No. 1 or No. 2 in the world, just to qualify the weight class for the Olympics. This just points out that we need better Greco-Roman programs for college athletes and younger so we can keep bringing up younger guys into our Greco-Roman program, so we can compete with the best nations in the world."