Olympians Hall Zuniga lead U S team at GR Olympic Qualifier in Colorado
The United States will enter five talented stars at the Greco-Roman Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 4-5.
Many of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world will participate, battling for the opportunity to compete in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. This event is the fourth of five Greco-Roman Olympic qualifying events held across the world from January-March 2000.
Nations are only able to enter athletes in weight classes which they did not qualify for Olympics during the 1999 Greco-Roman World Championships last fall.
The host United States will enter athletes at five weight classes (119 pounds, 127.75 pounds, 138.75 pounds, 152 pounds and 167.5 pounds). The USA has already earned Olympic qualification berths at three weight classes (187.25 pounds, 213.75 pounds and 286 pounds).
Leading the U.S. team will be 1996 Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.25 pounds. Hall was also a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team. He was a 1995 World Champion and placed third in the 1994 World Championships.
David Zuniga (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm), who placed 10th at the 1996 Olympic Games, will compete at 152 pounds. Zuniga was fourth in the 1994 World Championships.
Four of the five U.S. team members at the Greco-Roman Qualifier also competed at the 1999 World Championships and are ranked No. 1 in the USA in their weight classes. This includes Hall, Zuniga, Stephen Mays (Pensacola, Fla./U.S. Navy) at 119 pounds and Shon Lewis (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds.
Mays and Lewis were both 1999 U.S. Nationals champion, and also claimed the World Team Trials event. Lewis has qualified for three U.S. World Teams.
Rounding out the U.S. lineup will be veteran Kevin Vogel (Temperence, Mich./Michigan WC) at 167.5 pounds.
Three of the four U.S. coaches have Colorado Springs roots. They include U.S. Army coach Anatoly Nazarenko, U.S. Air Force Coach Rich Estrella, and USA Wrestling Greco-Roman National Coach Steve Fraser. Also working with the U.S. wrestlers will be 2000 Greco-Roman Olympic head coach Dan Chandler of Minneapolis, Minn.
The competition will be held at Sports Center I on the U.S. Olympic Complex. Admission is free. As of February 23, a total of 42 nations had confirmed participation in this important event.
The athletes do not qualify themselves for the Olympic Games; rather, they are qualifying their nation to participate in that weight class. After all five of the Olympic Greco-Roman Qualifing events are held, the points for each nation at each weight class are added up. The top three scores for each nation at each weight class are counted toward the final total. The top seven nations at each weight class from the qualifying events will qualify for the Olympic Games.
GRECO-ROMAN OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT at Colorado Springs, Colo., March 4-5
54 kg/119 lbs. - Stephen Mays, Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Navy)
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis. (Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Shon Lewis, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
69 kg/152 lbs. - David Zuniga, New Brighton, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Kevin Vogel, Temperence, Mich. (Michigan WC)
Coaches - Anatoly Nazarenko, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Rich Estrella, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dan Chandler, Minneapolis, Minn., Steve Fraser, Colorado Springs, Colo.
SPECIAL NOTE: The session times have changed for the Greco-Roman Olympic Qualifying Tournament than had been previously published.
Saturday, March 4
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Session I
3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. - Session II
Sunday, March 5
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Session III
2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Session IV to include medal matches and finals