USA Wrestling Challenge Tournament...

Challenge Tournament finalists set for Greco Roman at World Team Trials in Saint Paul Minn

By Gary Abbott | June 21, 2002, 12 a.m. (ET)

The highly anticipated match between Olympians and long-time rivals has been set at 60 kg/132 pounds, as James Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) are on a collision course during the Challenge Tournament at the Greco-Roman World Team Trials in Saint Paul, Minn., June 21. Both Gruenwald and Hall won their Challenge Tournament semifinals match, and will battle in the Challenge Tournament finals on Saturday morning. Only the champions of the Challenge Tournament in each weight class will advance to Sunday's championship series against the 2002 U.S. Nationals champion. Gruenwald scored a gut-wrench late in the match to break a tie and edge Jacob Hey (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force), 3-1. Hall defeated Joe Warren (Grand Rapids, Mich./New York AC), 6-1 to advance to the Challenge Tournament finals. Gruenwald competed in the 2000 Olympic Games, placing sixth. Hall was a member of the 1992 and 1996 Olympic teams, and won a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Hall and Gruenwald have been battling in the major wrestling events on the Senior level for many years, and their rivalry goes back to their youth wrestling days in Wisconsin. The winner of the Hall vs. Gruenwald match will face 2002 U.S. Nationals champion Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the finals series on Sunday. Nieradka defeated both Hall and Gruenwald during the U.S. Nationals, and was named the event's Outstanding Wrestler. Two of the top seeds in the Challenge Tournament were defeated, and eliminated from the opportunity to compete on the U.S. World Team this year. The top seed at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Marcel Cooper (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines), and the No. 1 seed at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., Billy Pierce (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), were defeated in the Challenge Tournament semifinals. Both were 2002 U.S. Nationals runners-up in their weight division. Cooper was defeated by his teammate on the U.S. Marines Corps, James Shillow, in a 3-0 overtime bout. Shillow will battle Mike Ellsworth (Colorado Springs, Colo./Michigan WC) in the Challenge Tournament finals on Saturday. Pierce, a fan favorite of the local community, dropped a 3-1 decision to Corey Farkas (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force). Farkas will battle Matt Lamb (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) in the finals of the Challenge Tournament Saturday. Quincey Clark (Davis, Calif./Minnesota Storm), a 2000 Olympian, was eliminated from contention at 84 kg/185 lbs., with a 6-4 loss to Kenny Owens (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines). Owens will battle Challenge Tournament top seed Brad Vering (Waterloo, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) in Saturday's finals. At 55 kg, 121 lbs., top seed Lindsay Durlacher (Evanston, Ill./Wildcat WC) will face Duaine Martin (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps) in the Challenge Tournament finals on Saturday. At 74 kg/163 lbs., top seed T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) will battle Darryl Christian (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) in the Challenge Tournament finals. Also advancing to the Challenge Tournament finals was Justin Ruiz (Taylorsville, Utah, (Dave Schultz WC) at 96 kg/211.25 pounds. Ruiz will face Dan Hicks (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marines) in the Challenge Tournament finals. Hicks won an intense 4-0 bout against 2001 World Team member Jason Loukides (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) to earn the right to face Ruiz. Winners of Sunday's Championship series will qualify for the U.S. World Team, which will compete in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 19-22. The World Team Trials freestyle competition for men and women will be held at 4:00 p.m. CST this afternoon. Challenge tournament finals (on Saturday) 55 kg/121 lbs. - Lindsay Durlacher, Evanston, Ill. (Wildcat WC) vs. Duaine Martin, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) 60 kg/132 lbs. - James Gruenwald, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) vs. Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis. (Sunkist Kids) 66 kg/145.5 lbs. - James Shillow, Fredricksburg, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) vs. Mike Ellsworth, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Michigan WC) 74 kg/163 lbs. - T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) vs. Darryl Christian, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Dave Schultz WC) 84 kg/185 lbs. - Brad Vering, Waterloo, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) vs. Kenny Owens, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) 96 kg/211.75 lbs. - Justin Ruiz, Taylorsville, Utah, (Dave Schultz WC) vs. Dan Hicks, Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps) 120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Corey Farkas, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force) vs. Matt Lamb, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)