GR FEATURE Friends and training partners Vering and Lindland on a collision course for the first ti

By John Fuller | May 09, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
2002 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team member Brad Vering has wrestled Matt Lindland many times over the past eight years. But this year, that potential match may actually count for something.

Vering received the top seed at 84 kg/185 lbs. in this year's U.S. National Championships. Lindland was given the third seed, meaning the two warriors could meet up in the finals of this tournament.

"Winning this tournament has been burning inside of me since last year," stated Vering, who placed second to Ethan Bosch in 2002. Bosch is seeded second in this year's tournament. "Winning this tournament is just another step towards my ultimate goal of becoming a World champion and an Olympic champion. It's possibly the most prestigious tournament in the nation."

Vering and Lindland used to be training partners when Vering was a wrestler at the Univ. of Nebraska. Lindland was the coach of the Husker Wrestling Club at the time, and helped Vering to become an NCAA champion in 2000.

Lindland left his coaching position shortly after the 2000 Olympic Games, but he and Vering still keep in touch and train together.

"Brad is definitely someone I am close to, and I am proud of everything he has done at this level," Lindland said.

Lindland has not competed since the 2001 World Championships, when he won a silver medal at 84 kg/185 lbs. The year before, he captured an Olympic silver medal at 76 kg/167 lbs. He currently is a star with Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), a submission fighting organization.

He is using the U.S. National Championships as a means of training for the World Submission Championships on May 17 in San Paulo, Brazil. But it is a possible matchup with Vering that has him excited for now.

"(Brad) works hard and is a great wrestler. The best in the country right now. Of course he should make it to the finals and I plan on being there as well. We have never competed against each other," Lindland said. "He has always been my student and a match against Brad will be fun. I would love to wrestle Brad in the finals. We fight hard every time we go at it."

Vering is also anxious to test his skills against his former teacher.

"Lindland has been a big part of my career," state Vering, who placed fifth at the World Championships in 2002. "He has been there with me every step of the way, and now we may have to go at it for the national title. It will be a lot of fun, but I also need to remember to concentrate on each individual match."

While Vering's career is still at its premature stages, Lindland's amateur wrestling career may be at its finale.

Lindland has been successful with the UFC and is not sure if he is ready to make a return to the amateur wrestling circuit.

"UFC is everything you want to do in a wrestling match. I get to knee, kick and punch my opponents," Lindland said semi-jokingly. "I have been training full-time and fighting. I would need to have a few good sponsors for me to consider wrestling full-time again. I like be able to make a living along with being an athlete."

Both Vering and Lindland will begin their quests towards a U.S. national title on Friday morning at 11 a.m.