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Kharchilava, Dantzler win Outstanding Wrestler awards at New York AC Christmas Tournament, Dec. 17 i



A strong field of top freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers competed at the annual New York AC Christmas Tournament, held in Manhattan, New York, Sunday, Dec. 17. Claiming the Outstanding Wrestler awards were freestyle wrestler Miron Kharchilava (Columbus, Ohio/Ohio International) at 152 pounds and Greco-Roman wrestler T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 167.5 pounds. Kharchilava edged former NCAA champion Casey Cunningham (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 6-4 in the gold-medal finals. Kharchilava is a world-class athlete who has immigrated to the United States and is seeking citizenship. Cunningham was a NCAA champion at Central Michigan Univ. Dantzler scored an impressive 13-2 technical fall over over Rob McKenney (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines) in the championship match. Dantzler, a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete, is currently ranked No. 3 on the Greco-Roman National Team. Five U.S. wrestlers claimed gold medals in the men's freestyle competition: Dustin Denunzio (Cambridge, Mass./Dave Schultz WC) at 138.75 pounds, Glenn Pritzlaff (Philadelphia, Pa./Dave Schultz WC) at 167.5 pounds, Markus Mollica (Boston, Mass./Dave Schultz WC) at 187.25 pounds, Chad Lamer (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) at 213.75 pounds and Tim Courtad (Athens, Ohio/New York AC) at 286 pounds. In a battle of past NCAA champions, Mollica edged John Kading (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids), 3-2 in the finals at 187.25 pounds. Mollica was a two-time NCAA champion at Arizona State, while Kading won his NCAA title for the Univ. of Oklahoma. A pair of Canadian wrestlers, James Crowe at 119 pounds and Saeed Azerbajani at 127.75 pounds also won men's freestyle titles. In Greco-Roman, a pair of past Olympians claimed individual gold medals: Shawn Sheldon (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 127.5 pounds and Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 152 pounds. Both were wrestling up one weight class from their normal wrestling weight. Sheldon, a member of the 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympic teams, defeated Kelly Pederson (Marquette, Mich./USOEC), 5-0 in the finals. Sheldon is a former World silver medalist, and was fourth in the 1992 Olympics. Bracken, who was sixth in the 2000 Olympic Games, scored a 14-0 technical fall over 2000 Junior World silver medalist Joe Privatere (Binghamton, N.Y./New York AC) in the finals. Bracken holds the No. 1 national ranking on Greco-Roman Team USA at 138.75 pounds. Other individual Greco-Roman champions were Yuri Noyosevov (Olympic club) at 119 pounds, Darnell Lollis (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 138.75 pounds, Ethan Bosch (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 187.25 pounds, Josh Hall (New York AC) at 213.75 pounds and Paul Devlin (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 286 pounds. It was the first year that all three international styles of wrestling were conducted at the New York AC Christmas Tournament, as a women's freestyle division was also contested. Three of the four individual women's champions were Canadian athletes from Brock University: Lindsay Rushton at 112 pounds, Tonya Verbeek at 123 pounds and Laura Jones at 150 pounds. Claiming the title at 101 pounds was Andrea Diamucozzi (Springfield, Mass./American International College).
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