News and Notes Following U S Nationals

By Ted Witulski | May 22, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
....More News and Notes Following U.S. Nationals Kevin Bracken, 2000 Olympian, has a solid streak of U.S. Nationals Title now at the 66 kg weight nearly seven pounds higher than his previous weight class. Bracken has won four U.S. Nationals in a row and five overall. Bracken still was looking out for one opponent that did not attend Nationals, last year's #2 ranked athlete at 66 kg, James Shillow, was held out of competition by duties for the U.S. Marines. Shillow is expected to wrestle at the World Team Trials. Kenneth Cook impressed may fans by coming back from a four point deficit to oust from the championship bracket, last year's #1 athlete at 74 kg T.C. Dantzler. Dantzler who is a scoring explosion in the making with high flying lifts was unable to distance himself from the Cyclone Club wrestler. Cook went on to finish second faltering to Keith Sieracki of the U.S. Army, while Dantzler finished 3rd. Certainly a rematch is in the making for the mini-tournament at the World Team Trials in Indianapolis beginning June 20th. Notable No-Shows on the Freestyle side included 2000 Olympian Charles Burton with a neck injury , Michael Lightner of Oklahoma with a knee injury. Last year's runner-up in Vegas at 55 kg, Jody Strittmatter, was not in attendance. NCAA Champion Eric Juergens from the University of Iowa did not attend. Also, leaving the fans wondering was 2000 Olympian and perpetual hard luck athlete Cary Kolat, as people still speculate on his wrestling and weight class future. Although Steve Mocco, this year's NCAA Champion at heavyweight from the University of Iowa, did not step on the scales in Vegas, Former Olympic Champion and Coach Tom Brands made no bones about it in the seeding meeting. As the names were read off at heavyweight a few questioned where was Mocco, Brands vehemently stated Mocco's reasons for not attending citing the need for a break after an intense sophomore year in the college ranks. Brands finished with an absolute prediction. "Mocco will wrestle in Indianapolis, and he will take an Olympic redshirt." For the Hawkeye faithful it's a short trip to Indy to see their favorite son wrestle in Freestyle this June. Tommy Rowlands, NCAA Champion Heavyweight from a year previous, suffered an ankle injury at the tournament in Kansas City and defaulted Air Force 285 pounder Kevin Hoy out of the Championship bracket. Fans of course were disappointed, that they would not see another chapter in the saga of the Mocco-Rowlands series. It is likely that Rowlands will wrestle in Indianapolis, but don't be surprised to see him drop to the 96 kg class. He consistently weighs out of practice below 230 pounds. Sasa Petkovic placed eighth at 74 kg in Greco-Roman wrestling. Petkovic is the son of Greco-Roman Resident Coach Momir Petkovic, a 1976 Olympic Champion for the former republic of Yugoslavia. Many wrestlers probably hadn't received a chance to compete against the younger Petkovic, since he trains and goes to school in Belarus. Mike Zadick of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club stayed away from super-sizing his meals before Vegas. Zadick who finished his career for the Hawks at 149 pounds dropped down to the 60 kg class (132 pounds). Zadick was awarded the #10 Seed, on his way to an impressive ladder climbing Bronze Medal finish. Two collegiate giants have already made plans to take an Olympic redshirt for the upcoming year. Garrett Lowney, Olympic Bronze Medallist in the Sydney Games, has already stated that he is done wrestling for the University of Minnesota and will not return for his senior season. Justin Ruiz, a two-time All-American for the Nebraska Cornhuskers will take an Olympic Redshirt and train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, wishing his teammates luck back at Nebraska. Ruiz does plan to return to Nebraska for two more years of eligibility for the aged Husker who has already completed a two-year Mormon Mission. Of course, the real question is can Ruiz return to his old form in high school where bested Garrett Lowney for a Greco Title at the National Championships in Fargo. The only way Ruiz will get that chance this summer in Indy is winning the mini-tournament and then opting to challenge Lowney on Sunday. Last year Ruiz opted out of wrestling against Lowney on the final day of competition, citing his religious beliefs. Sally Roberts, Washington native wrestling for the Gator Wrestling Club, won her first National Title and the Outstanding Wrestler Award in her first trip to the finals. Previously Roberts had placed 5th, 4th, 4th, and 5th before taking the Gold this year. Roberts, now an Olympic Training Center Resident, has wrestled for two other Women's Collegiate programs: Minnesota Morris, and Pacific. Texas native Muhammad Lawal wrestling for the Gator Club was seeded at the 84 kg class before before placing 4th after dropping a 5-2 decision to Brandon Eggum. Eggum earned a World Silver Medal in Bulgaria in 2001 when Cael Sanderson opted out of competition after the September 11th tragedy to focus on his goal of winning his fourth NCAA Title. Samantha Lang of Tualatin Oregon was the only high school finalist at the U.S. Nationals. Lang who owns impressive victories over the top women at the 72 kg class trailed badly in her semi-finals match against Army wrestler Iris Smith. Lang came up with a hail-Mary headlock with time winding down to advance to the finals. Lang then dropped a 10-0 match to Toccara Montgomery of Cumberland College. U.S. Nationals was just the first of two tournaments that decides the United Nationals Teams for all three wrestling styles. To see how it all turns out head to Indianapolis, Indiana this June for the World Team Trials beginning on June 20th. To get an application for the National Developmental Camp or Silver Level Coaches College click here.