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U.S. World Team Trials preview in Greco-Roman at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

The talent in the upper tier of the 66 kg/145.5 lbs. division in Greco-Roman is extraordinary, and the World Team Trials battle in this division is expected to be very interesting.

There is a possibility of two members of the 2012 Olympic Team among those in the battle in Stillwater. Justin Lester of the U.S. Army is the returning Olympian at this division. Lester has won a pair of World bronze medals at this weight, and has been dominant within the USA when down to this class. His tremendous abilities are well documented. However, Lester went up to 74 kg/163 lbs. for the U.S. Open, placing sixth and getting injured a bit in the process. The decision about which weight class he will enter will affect the results in either division he chooses.

The 2012 U.S. Olympian at 60 kg/132 lbs. was the exciting Ellis Coleman, who has grown out of that weight class and settled in nicely at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Coleman won the 2013 U.S. Open at his new weight class, and has shown the kind of explosive wrestling which made him an exciting prospect when he won a pair of Junior World medals at this weight class. His confidence will be high after his strong performance in Las Vegas in April.

Placing second to Coleman at the Open was another strong young talent, Kendrick Sanders, who took the first period in that final match before Coleman came back for the win. The new rules could be very positive for Sanders, who is known for big throws and has a wide open offense. Sanders won a number of Junior-level Greco-Roman national titles, and has gone to the USOEC program to focus only on the classic style.

Brian Graham made a big step up on the national Greco-Roman scene with his third place finish at the U.S. Open. His last major Greco placement was a sixth place at the 2008 University Nationals. Placing fourth was Ben Sanchez, a past Greco-Roman national team member who is honing his craft at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Sanchez has picked up considerable international experience in recent seasons.

Rounding out the World Team Trials qualifiers based upon their finish at the U.S. Open were some young talents, fifth-place Santonio Thompson, sixth place Devin Scott and seventh place Nick Alvarez. Of the three, Alvarez has the most age-group international experience after making University and Junior World Teams last season. This year’s University Nationals champion is Joe Locksmith, who competes for the U.S. Naval Academy, and who beat Alvarez in the University finals. Locksmith is a tough college wrestler, who had a strong Greco-Roman background coming up the ranks.

A talented veteran who has qualified by winning the Northern Plains Regional Championships is Chad Vandiver, who was a high national placer and experience international wrestler down at 60 kg/132 lbs. most of his career. Thrasher Porcher, who has a vast age-group record, qualified through an international medal. Also in the field is University Nationals runner-up Will Keeter.

It will be interesting to see how the new FILA rules impacts the action at this weight class, with some athletes like Justin Lester, Ellis Coleman and Kendrick Sanders capable of putting up some serious points. In any case, it may take three matches in the Championship Series to sort this one out.

2013 U.S. Open Greco-Roman results at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

1st – Ellis Coleman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (New York AC/USOEC), 0-3, 4-0, 2-1
3rd – Brian Graham, Platte City, Mo. (Minnesota Storm) dec. Ben Sanchez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 3-0, 3-0
5th –. Santonio Thompson, Mooresville, N.C. (YES Wrestling) dec. Devin Scott, Burnsville, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 5-0, 0-6, 1-0
7th – Nick Alvarez, Miami, Fla. (USOEC) dec. Johnathan Bozarth, El Paso, Ill. (USOEC), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

2013 U.S. World Team Trials qualifiers at 66 kg/145.5 pounds in Greco-Roman

’12 Olympic Team Trials Champion – Justin Lester, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
’12 Olympic Team Trials second place – C.P. Schlatter, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
’12 Olympic Team Trials, true third place – Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (NYAC)
’13 GR U.S. Open Champion – Ellis Coleman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’13 GR U.S. Open second place – Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (New York AC/USOEC)
’13 GR U.S. Open third place – Brian Graham, Platte City, Mo. (Minnesota Storm)
’13 GR U.S. Open fourth place – Ben Sanchez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’13 GR U.S. Open fifth place – Santonio Thompson, Mooresville, N.C. (YES Wrestling)
’13 GR U.S. Open sixth place – Devin Scott, Burnsville, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
’13 GR U.S. Open seventh place – Nick Alvarez, Miami, Fla. (USOEC)
’13 GR University National Champion – Joseph Locksmith, Kissimmee, Fla. (Navy Mat Club)
’13 GR University National second place – Nick Alvarez, Miami, Fla. (USOEC)
’13 GR University National Champion – Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (NYAC)
’13 GR University National second place – Will Keeter, Twin Falls, Idaho (Minnesota Storm)
’13 Northern Plains Regional Champion – Chad Vandiver, Colorado Springs, Colo (Rino WC)
'12 New York AC International Champion - RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (ReadyRP Nationals)
’12 Haparanda Cup second place – Ben Sanchez, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’12 Haavisto Cup second place – Thrasher Porter, Chuluota, Fla. (USOEC)
Wildcard Selection –
Past Olympic Team member –
Past World Team member –
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