Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner Will Attend Midlands Wrestling Championships

By Katie Johnson | Dec. 04, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
EVANSTON, Ill.-As the 39th annual Midlands Championships quickly approaches, Northwestern has announced that Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner will be making a special appearance at the annual event. The Midlands will be held at Welsh-Ryan Arena on the Northwestern campus Dec. 29-30. Gardner will be present during the first day of competition. Gardner won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the heavyweight division, defeating Russian Alexander Karelin Karoylen for the title. Previous to this match, Karoylen had not lost in 13 years of international competition, making Gardner's win one of the biggest upsets in wrestling history. Gardner wrestled at the Midlands Championships three times, winning his last visit in 1995. He will be presented the special Honorary Midlands Champion Award at this year's tournament. Gardner will also speak to a youth wrestling group as part of the Evanston YMCA "Beat the Streets" program. Fans will be able meet Gardner and get his autograph during both sessions on the 29th. Leading the way on the mats this year will be defending NCAA and Midlands Champion, Minnesota. Seven of the current top 10 teams in the nation according to Intermat will also be on hand at this year's event to dethrone the Gophers . The holiday tournament is usually an early indicator as to how a team will fair in postseason competition. It is not uncommon for a team to win the Midlands then go on to win their respective conference title and eventually become NCAA Champions, as the Gophers did last season. For ticket and session information on the Midlands Championships log on to www.nusports.com and click on the wrestling page.