Three Olympic medalists go down Murata loses in the semifinals of the 2003 U S National Championsh

By John Fuller | May 10, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
Las Vegas, Nev. - The most anticipated matchup of the entire 2003 U.S. National Championships never materialized. Olympic and World champion Rulon Gardner (Sunkist Kids) was defeated by Corey Farkas (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) in the 120 kg/264.5 lbs. semifinal match in the Greco-Roman division. Farkas won the match 4-2 in overtime after Farkas flattened Gardner to his back during the clinch. Gardner attempted to life Farkas and throw him in the extra period, but Farkas kept his leverage and was able to fall on top of Gardner for the win. Gardner tied the score at 2-2 in the second period with a two-point gut wrench, but other than that, was never able to gain an offensive advantage. Farkas will now face 2002 World champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), who defeated teammate Paul Devlin (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) by a 4-0 score. Olympic medalists Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) and Lincoln McIlravy (Colorado Springs, Colo./McIlravy WC) also lost in the semfinal round. Hall, a 1996 Olympic silver medalist, dropped a 1-1 referee's decision to Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 60 kg/132 lbs. in Greco-Roman. Nieradka is the defending national champion. He will face U.S. World Team member James Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) for the gold medal. McIlravy was defeated by former college teammate Bill Zadick (Coralville, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. in men's freestyle action. Zadick was able to control the pace of the match, scoring a takedown with 10 seconds left in the match to seal a 3-1 victory. Zadick will wrestle U.S. World Team member Chris Bono (Gilbert, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) in the finals. Bono narrowly defeated Tony Davis (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) in the semifinals. Bono won 2-2 on a referee's decision. Tela O'Donnell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) pulled off a major upset with an 8-7 decision over seven-time U.S. National champion Stephanie Murata (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs. in women's freestyle competition. O'Donnell will meet up with 2002 World silver medalist Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the finals. In men's freestyle competition, 2002 U.S. National champions Teague Moore (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) and Tim Hartung (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) were also defeated in the semifinals. Moore dropped a 7-2 decision to three-time U.S. Nationals runner-up Eric Akin (Lincoln, Neb./Dave Schultz WC) at 55 kg/121 lbs. Akin will face U.S. World Team member Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif./Sunkist Kids) in the finals. Hartung was defeated 2-2 in a referee's decision by Dean Morrison (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Morrison will square off against the powerful Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) for the gold medal. Also advancing to the finals were 2002 U.S. World Team members Eric Guerrero (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 60 kg/132 lbs., Joe Williams (Coralville, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) at 74 kg/163 lbs., Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and Kerry McCoy (Bethlehem, Pa./New York AC) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. In other Greco-Roman competition, college freshman Kenneth Cook (Ames, Iowa/Cyclone WC) defeated U.S. World Team member T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 74 kg/163 lbs. Cook led 9-7 after an action-packed first period, but in the second period gave up two points, allowing Dantzler to send the match into overtime. In the extra period, Cook was able to score on a spin-behind to win the match 10-9. Cook will next wrestle 2001 U.S. World Team member Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the finals. Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) and Matt Lindland (Oregon City, Ore./Sunkist Kids) will meet up in the 84 kg/185 lbs. final in a teach versus pupil matchup. For years, Lindland has helped coach Vering, who placed fifth at the 2002 World Championships. Also competing in the finals are 2002 U.S. World Team members Brandon Paulson (Anoka, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Garrett Lowney (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Paulson was a 1996 Olympic and 2001 World silver medalist. Lowney captured a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. In women's freestyle competition, Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) was the only other defending champion to lose, along with Murata, dropping her match at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Smith lost to high school sensation Samantha Lang (Tualatin, Ore./Sunkist Kids) by fall in the second period. Lang will now face another defending national champion, Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland, Ohio/Cumberland College) in the finals. Lang is 2-1 against Montgomery this year. In the strongest weight class, 2002 U.S. World Team member Sara McMann (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) will face off with 2002 World bronze medalist Kristie Marano (Albany, N.Y./ATWA) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Marano defeated six-time U.S. National champion Lauren Lamb (Farmington, N.Y./Michigan WC) by a 6-1 score to advance. Other defending champions to advance to the finals are Patricia Miranda (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. and Jenny Wong (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 51 kg/112 lbs. 2002 U.S. World Team Trials champion Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) advanced to the finals at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. The finals will begin at 6:00 p.m.