USA Wrestling Cuba edges USA 26 25...

Cuba edges USA 26 25 in Titan Games dual Sanderson Gardner drop exciting matches

By Gary Abbott | Feb. 14, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)

With big victories over top U.S. stars, and a sweep of the Greco-Roman bouts, Cuba edged the United States, 26-25, in the first wrestling bout of the 2003 Titan Games in San Jose, Calif., Feb. 14. In the two most highly anticipated matches, Cuba scored key victories. In freestyle, at 84 kg/185.5 lbs., 1999 World Champion Yoel Romero edged young American star Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), 3-2 in overtime. And in the final bout of the evening, with the team score on the line, young Mijian Lopez of Cuba stopped 2000 Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner by a 3-0 margin. The atmosphere was intense from the opening match. Past World champion Rene Montero of Cuba scored a takedown with three seconds in the match to break a tie and defeat Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif./Sunkist Kids), 3-2. The U.S. dropped the second freestyle bout when Jennifer Ryz of Canada rolled Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo.) with a gutwrench to a pin at 3:27. Sara McMann (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sun kist Kids) started a strong U.S. run with a dominant 11-1 technical fall over Trish Leibel of Canada. The U.S. received a forfeit win at 66 kg/145.5 pounds, given to Eric Guerrero (Stillwater, Okla./Sunkist Kids) because his opponent Saeed Azerbaijani of Canada was not allowed to wrestle for medical reasons due to an infectious skin condition on his face. The U.S. kept up the pressure with a come-from-behind 5-2 win by Chris Bono (Gilbert, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) over Garndris Garzon of Cuba at 66 kg/145.5 pounds. The U.S. padded its lead with another forfeit win to Casey Cunningham (Mt. Pleasant, Mich/Sunkist Kids), when Cuban Yosmany Sanchez was unable to compete due to a neck injury. The featured Romero/Sanderson match came next, and did not disappoint. The match featured two clinches, with Sanderson winning the first one on an ankle pick and Romero taking the second one on a released lock. Tied at 2-2 in overtime, Romero scored the winning one-point takedown for the victory. The U.S. bounced back with two more men's freestyle wins, as Tim Hartung (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) and Kerry McCoy (State College, Pa./New York AC) both won in overtime. Hartung, competing at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., shut down veteran Wilfredo Morales of Cuba, 2-0. McCoy, trailing 2-0, came back in overtime to tie 1998 World Champion Alexis Rodriguez of Cuba, winning the bout by criteria. Cuba swept the final four matches, all in Greco-Roman, to take the match away from the Americans. At 55 kg/121 lbs., past World champion Lazaro Rivas of Cuba opened up the offense with a 11-0 technical fall win over 1996 Olympic silver medalist Brandon Paulson (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm). Veteran Roberto Monzon of Cuba kept the rally alive with a 6-3 win over Jim Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 60 kg/132 lbs. Gruenwald had beaten Monzon last week at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. The next match could have closed out the win for the USA, as T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) jumped to a 4-1 lead over two-time Olympic champion Filiberto Azcuy at 74 kg/163 lbs. With Dantzler ahead 4-2 and down on the mat, officials hit him with a two-point penalty for grabbing Azcuy's fingers, tying the bout at 4-4. Azcuy quickly turned Dantzler with a gut wrench for the 6-4 margin of victory. The dual came down to the final bout, with America's greatest Greco-Roman heavyweight on the mat. The USA led 25-23, and the winner of the bout would decide the team score. 2000 Olympic champion and 2001 World Champion Rulon Gardner was facing talented young Mijian Lopez of Cuba, who had beaten him the finals of the Dave Schultz International a week before. Lopez jumped to a 2-0 lead on a gutwrench, and added a one-point go behind takedown early in the second period for a 3-0 lead. Gardner, for the second straight week, could not score on the explosive Lopez, and the Cuban held on for the victory. By shutting Gardner out, the U.S. did not pick up a team point in the bout, and Cuba won the dual meet 26-25. CUBA 26 USA 25 55 kg/121 lbs. Men FS Rene Montero (Cuba) dec. Stephen Abas (USA), 3-2 (3-1 Cuba) 55 kg/121 lbs. Women FS Jennifer Ryz (Canada) pin Tina George (USA), 3:27 (7-1 Cuba) 63 kg/138.7 lbs. Women FS Sara McMann (USA) won by tech. fall over Trish Leibel, 11-1, 5;43 (8-5 Cuba) 60 kg/132 lbs. M Freestyle Eric Guerrero (USA) won by forfeit (9-8 USA) 66 kg/145.5 lbs. M Freestyle Chris Bono (USA) dec. Garndris Garzon (Cuba), 5-2 (12-9 USA) 74 kg/163 lbs. M Freestyle Casey Cunningham (USA) won by inj. dft. over Yosmany Sanchez (Cuba) (16-9 USA) 84 kg/185 lbs. M Freestyle Yoel Romero (Cuba) dec. Cael Sanderson (USA), 3-2, ot, 7:05 (17-12 USA) 96 kg/211.25 lbs. M Freestyle Tim Hartung (USA) won by ref. dec. over Wilfredo Morales (Cuba), 2-0, ot, 9:00 (20-12 USA) 120 kg/264.5 lbs. M Freestyle Kerry McCoy (USA) won by ref. dec. over Alexis Rodriguez (Cuba), 2-2, ot, 9:00 (23-13 USA) 55 kg/121 lbs. M Greco-Roman Lazaro Rivas (Cuba) won by tech. fall over Brandon Paulson (USA), 11-0, 3:35 (23-17 USA) 60 kg/132 lbs. M Greco-Roman Roberto Monzon (Cuba) dec. Jim Gruenwald (USA), 6-3 (24-20 USA) 74 kg/163 lbs. M Greco-Roman Filiberto Azcuy (Cuba) dec. TC Dantzler (USA), 6-4 (25-23 USA) 120 kg/264.5 lbs. M Greco-Roman Mijian Lopez (Cuba) dec. Rulon Gardner (USA), 3-0 (26-25 Cuba)