Champions quotes from the 2003 U S National Championships

By John Fuller | May 10, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
Stephen Abas - Men's Freestyle 55 kg On training full-time in freestyle "I've been training straight for a long time now. I feel like I'm finally getting to where I need to be freestyle-wise." On his battles with Akin "Me and Akin have had some battles over the years. He is a tough competitor. You can expect a tough match every time you step on the mat with him." On how he feels about not being able to wrestle in the 2002 World Championships "Two years ago, the Worlds were supposed to be in New York before 9/11. Now, they are scheduled to be there again this year and I am so excited about it. It's almost like I am getting a new birth." Eric Guerrero - Men's Freestyle 60 kg On his feelings after this match "I knew I had to be prepared for this match. It's always great to win." On what he has done to train "I have been continuously working to improve on a daily basis. I want to give myself the best opportunity to do the best that I can in everything, including my life." Chris Bono - Men's Freestyle 66 kg On being awarded two caution points "You take a win any way you can get them at this level. I didn't score the points, but I'll take them. If the officials want to give me two points in any match, I'm not going to complain." On Zadick beating McIlravy "Anyone can come through this tournament. Bill can beat anyone in the world." Joe Williams - Men's Freestyle 74 kg On getting some U.S. matches in "It feels good to compete against our guys in the U.S. for a change. It has been a while since I wrestled against U.S. guys in actual competition, so it is nice to see some different styles again." On training for the World Championships and the Olympics "The next couple of years are real big for me in wrestling. I have my goal of becoming an Olympic champion and that is all I am really concerned about." On his finals match "I thought that overall the match was pretty good. I just wanted to win this tournament and wrestle well. I knew that whoever came out at me was going to give me a match." Daniel Cormier - Men's Freestyle 96 kg On his training "I am training hard all the time. I used to take a lot of breaks and go out with the guys, but now I am just entirely focused on my wrestling." On his win "This is huge. This is my first national title outside of Junior College and I am just so glad that I am in this position now." Kerry McCoy - Men's Freestyle 120 kg About his aggressiveness after a lackluster World Cup performance "I didn't wrestle the way I wanted to at the World Cup. Sometimes those things help you to get a little better. I know that when I wrestle well, I am one of the best in the world. I just have to let the chips fall where they may." Brandon Paulson - Greco-Roman 55 kg Has this tournament gotten easier for you? "The wrestling's getting a little easier, but the training is not. Having two children is a full-time job." On whether U.S. competitors worry him anymore "It's always a worry. If it's not a worry, then you're not going to stay on top." Jim Gruenwald - Greco-Roman 60 kg On winning his first national title after eight finals appearances "This is my eighth trip to the finals. I have seven seconds. I just put everything into the hands of God and let Him take care of everything." On whether or not Nieradka was wrestling well "He has had some injuries and hasn't been able to get the training he needed for this tournament. He definitely did not seem like the same wrestler as he has in the past. I am sure he will be back at the World Team Trials." On which moment was better - finally beating Hall or finally winning a national title "They both have a special place in my heart. Today was a very pleasant experience." Kevin Bracken - Greco-Roman 66 kg On his opponent, Mike Ellsworth "Mike's a very good athlete. It's kind of a cross between helping each other and preparing for each other when we train together." On his domination "I'm not sure it's getting easier. I have to go through growth stages. In my wrestling, I feel like I've made some jumps." Brad Vering - Greco-Roman 84 kg On beating his former coach, Matt Lindland "One of my coaches Mark Cody once said that you know you're a great coach when your student starts beating you. I pay that as the ultimate compliment to Matt Lindland. Without him, I wouldn't be where I am today. He has meant everything to my career." On being more nervous for this match than others "I felt pretty good, pretty relaxed. Even though I was the top seed, I didn't feel like the pressure was on me. He was the Olympic and World silver medalist. I thought the pressure was on him." On his training "I'm not screwing around anymore. I'm at a stage where I no longer hope to win the nationals or the Trials. Those are things I expect of myself. I plan to be the best in the world. I would walk through burning walls to get there. I feel battle-ready." Garrett Lowney - Greco-Roman 96 kg On his happiness just wrestling Greco-Roman "It's about time. I had a rough first half of the college season, but when I started to feel good, I began to get some other injuries. I had to heal up. I was lucky that this tournament was pushed back a ways." Dremiel Byers - Greco-Roman 120 kg On whether he expected to wrestle Farkas in the finals "Anything happens here. What happened to Rulon, that could happen to any of us." On his confidence level "Winning these tournaments just confirms the things that people have been telling me for years. They tell me I have it in me to be an Olympic champion. I am believing it too." On his lift in the finals "It was slower than I thought it was going to be. Farkas is big. He's probably about 290 lbs. right now." Patricia Miranda - Women's Freestyle 48 kg On her improvement since last year's World Championships "I owe a lot to Terry Steiner, the national women's coach. Losing is a wrestler's responsibility, but he made it his responsibility too. He has started working with me on the mental aspect of the sport." On her goals "My long-term goal is the gold in Athens. My process goal is to be proud of myself every time I wrestle. Just knowing that I have left everything on the mat." Malinda Ripley - Women's Freestyle 51 kg On being so young and winning a national title "It's pretty good knowing that I was injured two weeks ago and can still perform like this. I was seeded second, so I knew I had to perform, but I just took it one match at a time." About defending Wong's gut wrench "I was thinking 'why did I get cautioned again'. I have done scouting and I knew what side she was going to gut to. The last time I wrestled her was at Sunkist and she beat me on top, so I was worried about it before the match." Tela O'Donnell - Women's Freestyle 55 kg On the biggest win of her career "I was trying to get nervous before the match, but it was hard to not be." On finishing her tilt for the final three points of the match "When I had the half-nelson, I just knew I had to keep working to get her turned. It took a while for me to turn her." Katie Downing - Women's Freestyle 67 kg On finally winning a national title "I guess the sixth time is the charm. I'm really thankful that I've had the opportunity to train at the OTC. The women's resident program has helped me make major strides in my wrestling." On whether or not she expects other top wrestlers to move back into her weight for the Trials "If I had to bet on it, I would say it would be the same at the Trials, but I would also plan on some more challenges afterwards. I definitely have more than Kaci Lyle on my mind for the Trials, though." Toccara Montgomery - Women's Freestyle 72 kg On winning her first national title at 72 kg "At first, I w