LAS VEGAS - He's 18 years old and just graduated from high school, but that hasn't stopped Jake Deitchler from setting some very lofty goals.
He wants to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
Deitchler took a huge step toward achieving that goal when he pulled off a huge stunner by knocking off two-time World bronze medalist Harry Lester in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Deitchler stunned Lester 0-5, 5-2, 5-3 to advance to Saturday night's best-of-3 Greco-Roman finals against Faruk Sahin. Deitchler pinned Sahin in April's U.S. Nationals at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. The Deitchler-Sahin winner advances to the Olympic Games in Beijing China.
Four other Olympic berths will be decided on Saturday night. Those include Greco-Roman berths at 74 kg/163 lbs. and 84 kg/185 lbs. along with freestyle berths at 55 kg/121 lbs. and 66 kg/145.5 lbs. The third and final day of the Trials is set for Sunday.
The U.S. has not qualified for the Olympics in freestyle at 60 kg/132 lbs., but is hopeful it can gain a wild card into the Olympic Games. Seven overall wild cards will be awarded among the 18 total Olympic weight classes in all three styles. The wild cards will be awarded shortly after the Trials.
Deitchler, a University of Minnesota recruit from Ramsey, Minn., was able to win a late scramble with Lester to claim the win. Deitchler was a surprise second-place finisher behind champion Mark Rial at April's U.S. Nationals.
Deitchler graduated from high school early in April in order to permit him to have extra time to train for the Trials. Deitchler has spent considerable time working out as the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
One of the most anticipated freestyle finals matchups will come at 55 kg/121 lbs. when 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas meets 2007 World Team member Henry Cejudo. Abas and Cejudo are two of the most talented lightweights in recent U.S. history.
Another big freestyle matchup will be at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. when past Iowa Hawkeye NCAA champions Doug Schwab and Bill Zadick will battle for the Olympic spot. Schwab placed fifth at the 2007 World Championships and Zadick won a World title in 2006. Schwab beat Zadick in the finals of April's U.S. Nationals.
2004 Olympic Brad Vering reached the finals at 84 kg/185 lbs. by sweeping Chas Betts in the semifinals. Vering will face Aaron Sieracki in the finals. Sieracki knocked off No. 1 seed Brad Ahearn in the semis. Ahearn beat Vering in the finals of U.S. Nationals.
Sieracki beat Vering in the semifinals of the 2006 World Team Trials before Vering bounced back in a big way in 2007. Vering won a World silver medal last year and led the U.S. to the team title.
SATURDAY'S BEST-OF-3 FINALS MATCHUPS
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) vs. Jake Deitchler (Ramsey, Minn./Minnesota Storm)
74 kg/163 lbs.
T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) vs. Cheney Haight (Orem, Utah/New York AC)
84 kg/185 lbs.
Aaron Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) vs. Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC)
55 kg/121 lbs.
Stephen Abas (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) vs. Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids)
60 kg/132 lbs.
Shawn Bunch (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) vs. Mike Zadick (Iowa City, Iowa/Gator WC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Doug Schwab (Iowa City, Iowa/Gator WC) vs. Bill Zadick (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC)