McIlravy Lindland Gardner impressive in returns to the mat all defending champions advance to the

By John Fuller | May 09, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
Las Vegas, Nev. - All 21 defending champions have advanced to the semifinal round of the 2003 U.S. National Championships. In men's freestyle action, all seven U.S. World Team members advanced in convincing fashion. Olympic bronze medalist Lincoln McIlravy made his return to the mat in dominating fashion, winning three times by technical superiority and outscoring his four opponents 40-1 at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. He will face former college teammate and defending national champion Bill Zadick (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) in the semifinals. Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif./Sunkist Kids) dominated Jeremy Hunter (Champaign, Ill./New York AC) 10-0 in the 55 kg/121 lbs. quarterfinals. He will face Mike Mena (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) in the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, 2002 U.S. National champion Teague Moore (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) survived a late scare from Matt Azevedo (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Sunkist Kids). Leading 3-0 late in the match, Moore attempted a cradle. Azevedo was able to reverse the move and gain one exposure point to cut the lead to 3-2, but was unable to score again. Moore will face off with Eric Akin (Lincoln, Neb./Dave Schultz WC) in the semifinals. At 60 kg/132 lbs., defending champion Eric Guerrero (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) defeated Shawn Bunch (Leavenworth, Kan./New York AC) 10-1 to set up a match with Dwight Hinson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids). In the other quarterfinals, 2002 U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Jesus Wilson (Fayette, Iowa/Minnesota Storm) scored a point in overtime from the clinch to secure a 3-2 win over Mike Zadick (Coralville, Iowa/Hawkeye WC). Wilson never led in the match until he score the third and final point needed to win. He will meet up with Jason Kutz (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the semifinals. 2001 World bronze medalist Joe Williams (Coralville, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) survived a scare, winning 3-2 in overtime against Ramico Blackmon (Colorado Springs, Colo./Team Excel). On the other side of the bracket, Byron Tucker (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) dominated the action in a 5-1 upset victory over Casey Cunningham (Mt. Pleasant, Mich./Sunkist Kids). Tucker will face Joe Heskett (Grover Beach, Calif./Gator WC) in the semifinals. The top four seeds at 84 kg/185 lbs. all advanced, led by Cael Sanderson's (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) 12 second pin in the quarterfinals. He will face Aaron Simpson (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) in the semifinals. On the other half of the bracket, Lee Fullhart (Chattanooga, Tenn./Gator WC) will meet up with 2001 World bronze medalist Brandon Eggum (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm). 2002 U.S. World Team member Tim Hartung (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) advanced to the semifinals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. At 120 kg/264.5 lbs., Olympian Kerry McCoy (Bethlehem, Pa./New York AC) advanced to the semifinals with a technical fall. On the other side of the bracket, Tolly Thompson (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) and Brian Keck (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) both advanced and will meet each other in the semifinals. In Greco-Roman competition, Olympic and World silver medalist Matt Lindland (Oregon City, Ore./Sunkist Kids) began his return to the mat with two pins to advance to the semifinals at 84 kg/185 lbs. He will face defending national champion Ethan Bosch (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC). The most anticipated match of the year is still on course as 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) and Olympic and World Champion Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) both advanced to the semifinals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Olympic and World silver medalist Brandon Paulson (Anoka, Minn./Minnesota Storm) will square off with Joe Espinoza (Marquette, Mich./USOEC/Gator WC) in a 55 kg/121 lbs. semifinal. On the other side of the bracket, Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) will meet up with young Sam Hazewinkel (Pensacola, Fla./Gator WC), only a freshman in college. There were no surprises at 60 kg/132 lbs., as four of the top five seeds advanced to the semifinals, including 2002 U.S. World Team member James Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and 2002 U.S. National champion Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army). At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., seventh-seeded Harry Lester (Marquette, Mich./USOEC/Sunkist Kids) defeated second-seeded Marcel Cooper (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps) 3-1 to advance to the semifinals. Lester will meet Mike Ellsworth (Colorado Springs, Colo./Michigan WC) in the next round. U.S. World Team member Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) will face Steven Woods (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) in the other semifinal. 2001 U.S. World Team member Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) defeated Brandon McNab (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) 1-1 on a referee's decision at 74 kg/163 lbs. McNab had more passivity calls against him throughout the match, giving Sieracki the victory. Sieracki will face Darryl Christian (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) will face Kenneth Cook (Ames, Iowa/Cyclone WC). 2002 U.S. World Team member Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) also advanced at 84 kg with a 3-0 win over Kenny Owens (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps). Vering will meet up with Aaron Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) in the semifinals. Sieracki defeated Vering earlier this year at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) advanced to the semifinals against Deon Hicks (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. In women's action, three former U.S. National champions are still alive at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.: Sara McMann (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2002 World silver medalist Kristie Marano (Albany, N.Y./ATWA) and Lauren Lamb (Farmington, N.Y./Michigan WC). McMann will meet Alaina Berube (Escanaba, Mich./Cumberland College) in the semifinals while Marano and Lamb will be matched up with each other. Patricia Miranda (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) continued to dominate this year, as her second pin of the tournament moved her into the semifinals at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. She will face Katrina Betts (Milan, Mich./Wolverine WC). In the other semifinal, Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) will wrestle Mary Kelly (Mahomet, Ill./Dave Schultz WC). At 51 kg/112 lbs., defending national champion Jenny Wong (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) advance to the semifinals with a first-period pin. She will next face Sarah Hayes (Aurora, Colo./Cumberland College). On the other side, Katie Kunimoto (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) will wrestle Malinda Ripley (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids). 2002 U.S. World Team members Stephanie Murata (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) both advanced to the semifinals with dominating performances at 55 kg/121 lbs. George will face Marcie VanDusen (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) while Murata will face Tela O'Donnell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC). At 59 kg/130 lbs., Dave Schultz Memorial International champion Sally Roberts (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) advanced to the semifinals. 2002 U.S. World Team Trials champion Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) moved into the semifinals with her second pin of the tournament at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. She will next face Stephany Lee (Honolulu, Hawaii/Rainbow Wahine WC). The 72 kg/158.5 lbs. weight class also went as expected, as 2001 World silver medalist Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) advanced to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, high school wrestler Samantha Lang (Tualatin, Ore./Sunkist Kids) will meet defending national champion Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army). Semifinal action will begin at 10:00 a.m. for men's freestyle and Grec