2003 Greco Roman World Team Trials preview at 66 kg 145 5 lbs

By Gary Abbott | June 05, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
2000 Olympian Kevin Bracken of the New York AC has been a dominant U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler for many years. He has won U.S. Nationals titles for four straight years, and has five career national titles. Four times he has represented the U.S. at either the World Championships or Olympics. He has experience, skill, power and confidence. What Bracken lacks is a medal at the World level, something that motivates him to continue to grueling training that keeps him at the top. Placing second to Bracken at the U.S. Nationals was veteran Mike Ellsworth of the Michigan WC, who dropped a 6-1 decision in the finals. Ellsworth and Bracken were often training partners when they were in different weight divisions. Since FILA cut the weights to seven, Bracken and Ellsworth (and the rest of this deep field) have met in the middle. Ellsworth is on a roll, going straight from Las Vegas to Iran, where he won a gold medal at the Takhti Cup and became a favorite of the Iranian wrestling fans. Ellsworth's performance has been up and down at times during his career, and he seems to be at a very high level going into the World Team Trials. This weight class is jammed with experienced athletes, many who have been on the Greco-Roman national team in the past. The combining of the 138.75-pound and 152-pound division has created a field that will be very talented and especially difficult to predict. Taking third at the U.S. Nationals was Glenn Garrison of the U.S. Army, a past member of Greco-Roman Team USA. Taking fourth at the U.S. Nationals was Oscar Wood of the U.S. Army, also a past Team USA member. They are both capable of putting themselves in the finals of any tournament. College fans will remember Wood as an All-American for Oregon State, who was a tremendous pinner. There are a pair of U.S. Marine Corps stars that can not be overlooked at this division. James Shillow was ranked No. 2 behind Bracken last year, losing in the World Team Trials finals. Then there is Marcel Cooper, a 2001 U.S. World Team member, who was second to Bracken in the 2002 U.S. Nationals but third at the World Team Trials. At this weight and in this field, both of these Marine stars can do some serious damage, and will be a threat to Bracken if they capture the Challenge Tournament. Young Harry Lester of the USOEC placed fifth at the U.S. Nationals, and has a bright future. Lester went to Iowa State after a tremendous high school career in Ohio, but has left folkstyle to join the Greco-Roman program at Northern Michigan. He will be fun to watch climb the ladder in future seasons. Placing sixth at the U.S. Nationals was veteran Steven Woods of the U.S. Air Force, who has put together some strong tournaments in the past, including a runner-up finish at the 2001 U.S. Nationals. Snagging seventh place at the U.S. Nationals to qualify for the World Team Trials is Cory Posey of the New York AC, who has specialized in Greco-Roman since his prep days and has improved as a USOTC resident athlete. Although his eighth place at the U.S. Nationals did not qualify him for Indianapolis, Mark Rial gets into the field by winning a Regional title this spring. Another Regional champion was Ron Muir, who has paid his dues in Greco-Roman but has not yet beaten the "big names." 1996 Olympian David Zuniga of the Minnesota Storm gets into the field as a past U.S. team member, but in recent years he has competed only in freestyle. Zuniga did not make the field in freestyle this year, so the only style he can wrestle in Indy is Greco-Roman. NCAA finalists Teyon Ware, Dylan Long, Eric Larkin and Jared Lawrence are in the field automatically, but the odds are that they will compete in freestyle if they show up at the World Team Trials. Ware did a bit more Greco-Roman during his prep days than the others. As with freestyle, the 66 kg class in Greco-Roman is jam-packed with talent and experience. The Challenge Tournament will be a war, right from the opening pairings. The odds favor past performers, like Marines Shillow and Cooper, or a hot hand, like Ellsworth and Garrison. However, some of the young talent offers new intrigue. No matter who comes out of the pack to make the finals series, he will have to do something Americans have not been able to do in a very long time - beat Kevin Bracken. With a healthy and motivated Bracken ready to continue his quest for gold, it will be a tremendous achievement if somebody else makes this year's World Team. 2003 U.S. Nationals results at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. 1st - Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) dec. Mike Ellsworth (Colorado Springs, Colo./Michigan WC), 6-1 3rd - Glenn Garrison (Ft. Carson, Colo./U.S. Army) dec. Oscar Wood (Ft. Carson, Colo./U.S. Army), 9-0 5th - Harry Lester (Marquette, Mich./USOEC/Sunkist Kids) dec. Steven Woods (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force), 5-2 7th - Cory Posey (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) dec. Mark Rial (Colorado Springs, Colo./Unatt.), 5-4 2003 World Team Trials qualifiers at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. National champion - Kevin Bracken, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) National placerwinners - 2. Mike Ellsworth (Colorado Springs, Colo./Michigan WC); 3. Glenn Garrison (Ft. Carson, Colo./U.S. Army); 4. Oscar Wood (Ft. Carson, Colo./U.S. Army); 5. Harry Lester (Marquette, Mich./USOEC/Sunkist Kids); 6. Steven Woods (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force); 7. Cory Posey (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) Team USA member - James Shillow (Fredricksburg, Va./U.S. Marine Corps); Marcel Cooper (Woodbridge, Va./U.S. Marine Corps); Past World or Olympic team member - David Zuniga (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm); NCAA Div. I finalists - Teyon Ware (Norman, Okla./OU Underdogs); Dylan Long (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cat WC); Eric Larkin (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids); Jared Lawrence (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm); Regional champions - Ron Muir (Colorado Springs, Colo./unattached); Mark Rial (Colorado Springs, Colo./unattached)