USA Wrestling 2003 U S Greco Roma...

2003 U S Greco Roman Nationals preview at 120 kg 264 5 lbs

By Gary Abbott | May 06, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)

The biggest showdown in American wrestling could happen in this division, if 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers of the U.S. Army battles 2000 Olympic champion and 2001 World Champion Rulon Gardner of the Sunkist Kids during the U.S. Nationals. This is a dream matchup for American Greco-Roman wrestling, an indication that the U.S. program has progressed to the point of having a pair of active World Champions at the same weight class. Everybody remembers how Gardner missed the 2002 season with injury, after he lost a toe to frostbite from a life-threatening night in the snow and cold of the Wyoming mountains. Byers stepped to the forefront last season and won the World title, throwing every opponent he faced at the World Championships. Byers has proven his ability to compete at this level, placing sixth at the 1999 World Championships, the top U.S. individual performance of that season. He has considerable international experience, and has the confidence that comes from winning it all. Gardner is back on the mats, competing in big events and building strength and confidence. Both wrestlers had some epic battles with young Cuban star Mijian Lopez this winter, with Byers splitting a pair of bouts against Lopez and Gardner losing twice to the young Cuban. Now these two giants can focus on themselves and other U.S. opponents. Corey Farkas of the U.S. Air Force placed second behind Byers in the World Team Trials, and has considerable experience. A successful age-group athlete, Farkas is coming into his own on the Senior level. Veteran Billy Pierce of the Minnesota Storm placed second to Byers at the 2002 U.S. Nationals and has the ability to challenge any of the top heavyweights. During his career, Pierce has wins over many top wrestlers, both from the USA and other nations. He still seeks his first U.S. Senior World team position. Matt Lamb of the New York AC, who has paid his dues in Greco-Roman circles, is another strong contender at this division. Lamb first made his mark with the U.S. Navy program, then went to college at Michigan State. He is now back to wrestling Greco-Roman fulltime, and looks to improve on last year's third-place finish at the U.S. Nationals. Paul Devlin of the U.S. Army is another tough competitor working his way through the U.S. military system. His fourth place at last year's U.S. Nationals puts him in position to make a move this year. Devlin won the 2003 University Nationals title, defeating Adam Wheeler of the U.S. Navy in the finals. College athletes Josh Etu of ATWA, LeRoy Gardner of the Minnesota Storm and Andy Bowlby of Orange Crush have emerged as strong competitors in Greco-Roman. All three have had considerable success in the age-group levels and are now contenders on the Senior level. Veteran Tyrone Davis of St. Anthony's makes a strong run for the medals each season. Brent Boeshans of the Minnesota Storm, Ross Davie of Cleveland State, and perhaps the ageless Greg Gibson of the U.S. Marines, are other potential placewinners on the national level. 2002 U.S. Freestyle Nationals results at120 kg/264.5 lbs. 1st - Dremiel Byers, Fort Carson, Colo. (U.S. Army) pin Billy Pierce, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 3:14 3rd -Matt Lamb, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) won by ref. dec. over Paul Devlin, Fort Carson, Colo. (U.S. Army), 1-1, ot, 9:00 5th - Joshua Etu, Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia) won by inj. dft. over Corey Farkas, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force) 7th - Tyrone Davis, Hempstead, N.Y. (St. Anthony's) dec. Brent Boeshans, Jamestown, N.D. (Minnesota Storm), 6-5