10 Questions for U S Nationals champion Keith SierackiKEITH SIERACKI
2002-03 Team USA Ranking: No. 2 at 74 kg/163 lbs.
Years on Team USA: 7 (1996-97, 1998-2004)
Residence: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Club: U.S. Army
High School: Richland Center, Wis. (Richland Center)
Born: July 22, 1971 in Milwaukee, Wis.
1. You have now won the U.S. Nationals three years in-a-row. What do you do to prepare for this tournament?
Sieracki: This year has been a lot of clustering. I have tried to put my focus back together after I lost to T.C. last year. He made me realize that if I want to make an Olympic team, I need to get things together.
2. Your two toughest matches came against two of your youngest opponents - Brandon McNab and Ken Cook. Do you feel that the closeness of those was because of a lack of familiarity with them two?
Sieracki: That has a lot to do with it. Plus, Darryl Christian and T.C. have always been in my scope. Those were the guys I was training for. I was thinking more about my semifinals in the quarterfinal match. In the finals, Cook was just young and I had no clue what to expect from him, so I wrestled pretty cautious.
3. Last year, you were in the same position. Sitting out the Challenge Tournament and waiting for your matches. Is there anything you plan to do different this year in preparation of the Trials?
Sieracki: All the things I have been doing this year are completely different from last year. Last year, I only had one loss going into Trials and everything was right for me. I think I started to take things for granted last year. After T.C. beat me, I decided I was going to train through Nationals and the World Team Trials. That way, if I win, then I am ready to jump into the Pan Ams and the World Championships.
4. Seeing how the U.S. Nationals shaped out, with Cook making the finals, and the emergence of McNab, who do you expect to be wrestling in the best-of-three finals?
Sieracki: I expect T.C. Everybody has a bad day and he has been consistent over the years. Would I like it to be somebody else? Absolutely. It's always nice wrestling guys you haven't seen a million times. In a sense, it is a little more exciting. Wrestling Cook in the national finals was actually fun.
5. Some people feel that 66 kg is the deepest freestyle weight class. Do you think that 74 kg is the deepest Greco-Roman weight class?
Sieracki: No. I'm not taking anything away from my competitors. I would say right now that the top six is pretty solid, but you look at 66 kilos in Greco, any one of those guys can be a champion on any given day. Us and 84 kilos are the second deepest.
6. Earlier this year, you appeared really tired at the Concord Cup. Then you came out and looked fresh at the Dave Schultz Memorial International while wrestling at 84 kg. Did you ever consider a permanent move up in weight?
Sieracki: I took a long vacation, them came back and had eye surgery before the Concord Cup. Not only had I not been training, but it was a 3 kilo allowance and I barely made that. I thought that this might be it. I didn't know if I could do it anymore. The more cardio I do, the more it is going to keep my weight consistent. I just decided to wrestle up at Schultz so I didn't have to burn myself up. It made me realize that I had a good tournament even though I was out of shape. So I knew if I got in shape, I could really do some damage.
7. Do you struggle to make 74 kg at all?
Sieracki: It's not easy. I would say 24 hours within weigh-ins is not a fun day.
8. Who do you mostly train with right now?
Sieracki: I work out with my brother (Aaron) a lot. Kenny Owens is my main training partner at Fort Carson. I try to do a variety of guys.
9. Is it a help mentally to have a brother going after the same dream as you?
Sieracki: It helps tons. Even though I am 100 percent dedicated, and I am still focused, there are days where things aren't going the way you want them to. My brother will call me and we talk about things. It's good to have someone there to remind you of where you are going.
10. Is this your last run at making the Olympic team?
Sieracki: This is my last run at 74 kilos at making the Olympic team. I don't know how much of a contender I will be after this year. I would hate to give up all those years of training and learning because I think it is time to give up. I am going to go until I fall off.