U.S. WRESTLERS HALL, LEWIS QUALIFIY FOR SEMIFINALS AT GRECO-ROMAN OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT IN COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., MARCH 4
Two U.S. wrestlers, Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds and Shon Lewis (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds qualified for the semifinals at the Greco-Roman Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 4.
Hall opened by pinning Jose Joaquim Teixiera of Brazil in 1:06, then stopped Thomas Kathan of Austria, 9-1 to claim his pool competition. Hall tore some cartilege near his rib in the victory over Kathan, but finished the match strongly.
Hall is one of the greatest U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers ever. He was a 1995 World Champion, 1996 Olympic silver medalist and 1994 World bronze medalist. He competed on the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams.
In his first match, Lewis scored a 2-0 referee's decision over Sevket Karapinar of Turkey. In the second match, he was defeated in a tightly contested 1-1 overtime referee's decision by Emil Budinov of Bulgaria. Budinov won the match because he had fewer passivity calls, 3-1. The United States protested the match, and FILA, the international federation, upheld the U.S. protest and decided to re-wrestle the match.
In the rematch, Lewis came out with a passion, scoring two points in the first period and going to a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Budinov lifted Lewis for a two-point move late in the match, but Lewis held on for a clutch 3-2 victory.
At 119 pounds, Steven Mays (Pensacola, Fla./U.S. Navy) has an outside chance to win the tournament through the wrestle-back system.
Mays went 2-1 in his pool competition. He lost to Dariusz Jablonski, 5-0 in his first match, but came back to win by injury default over Vicente Lillo, Spain, then beat Stoytcho Ivanov of Bulgaria, 10-1.
Because he was second in this pool, Mays entered the repechage (wrestle-off) for the fourth and final semifinal match. In his first repechage match, Mays led 8-0 before earning an injury default over Joakim Soderman of Sweden in 1:30. Mays will wrestle former World Champion Ercan Yildiz of Turkey on Sunday morning; if Mays wins, he will qualify for the semifinals.
Kevin Vogel (Temperence, Mich./Michigan WC) will compete in the bronze-medal match at 167.5 pounds on Sunday.
Vogel went 2-1 to place second in his pool. He lost his first match to Evgueny Erofaylov of Uzbekistan, 5-0, but came back with two strong victories. He won by technical fall over Leonardo Gonzales of Panama, 12-1 in 2:20, then pinned Angelo Alberto Brea of the Dominican Republic in 1:58.
With just seven entries in his weight division, Vogel qualified to face Alberto Recuero of Spain in the third-place match on Sunday.
David Zuniga (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm) was eliminated after losing in his pool competition at 152 pounds. He won two of his three matches, but a 6-0 loss to Biser Georgiev of Bulgaria in the second match kept him from advancing.
Complete results of every match from the qualifying event is available on a special web page, which can be accessed from USA Wrestling's homepage at http://www.usawrestling.org
GRECO-ROMAN OLYMPIC QUALIFIER at Colorado Springs, Colo., March 4
54 kg/119 lbs - Steven Mays, Pensacola, Fla. - lost dec. to Dariusz Jablonski, 5-0; won by inj. dft. over Vicente Lillo, Spain; dec. Stoytcho Ivanov, Bulgaria, 10-1; won by inj. dft. over Jaokim Soderman, Sweden, 1:30
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis. - pin Jose Joaquim Teixeira, Brazil, 1:06; dec. Thomas Kathan, Austria, 9-1
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Shon Lewis, Colorado Springs, Colo. - won by ref. dec. over Sevket Karapinar, Germany, 2-0, ot, 9:00; dec. Emil Budinov, Bulgaria, 3-2
69 kg/149.75 lbs. - David Zuniga, New Brighton, Minn. - dec. Saiyinjiya, China, 5-3; lost dec. to Bisser Georgiev, Bulgaria, 6-0; won by tech. fall over Cam Weatherby, Canada, 12-0, 6:00
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Kevin Vogel, Temperence, Mich. - lost dec. to Evgueny Erofaylov, Uzbekistan, 5-0; won by tech. fall over Leonardo Gonzales, Panama, 12-1, 2:20; pin Angelo Alberto Brea, Dominican Republic, 1:58
58 kg - Dennis Hall (about his injury against Thomas Kathan of Austria) - "I just tried to keep my side away from him. I thought something broke at first, but I knew I had to finish the match and win it."
54 kg - Steven Mays - "In my first match, I missed my opportunity, which is in par terre (on the mat). The next matches, I took full advantage of my potential. It worked for me. Emotionally, I'm in a groove. That's the key going into tomorrow. I'm ready for the challenge against the 1997 World Champion tomorrow. That's what we train for."
63 kg - Shon Lewis - "I would have waited until mid-night to find out it was overturned. The wait didn't bother me. The second match, I came out stronger. I knew he would give everything he had as well, but he didn't know how much I still had left. By wrestling an extra match, I've been able to wrestle myself back into shape, coming off my foot injury."
U.S. Olympic head coach Dan Chandler - "Overall on a scale of 1-10, the U.S. performance today was a 7 1/2 . We still have three guys who could win it all. The competition is so tough, it is really the luck of the draw. Luck of the draw is everything. You have to be the best in the tournament to win."