USA Wrestling Team USA stars McCoy...

Team USA stars McCoy Sanderson Montgomery Byers Gardner set for 2003 Las Vegas United States Nat

By Dominic Clark | May 06, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)

* Over 2,000 wrestlers expected for event in Hall N1-2 at Convention Center which includes Western Junior Regionals LAS VEGAS--Team USA's Kerry McCoy, Cael Sanderson, Toccara Montgomery, Dremiel Byers and Rulon Gardner will lead the brightest stars of the sport to the 2003 Las Vegas United States National Wrestling Championships, being held tomorrow through Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This talented group will join over 2,000 Olympic hopefuls expected to compete in either the U.S. Freestyle Nationals, the U.S. Greco-Roman Nationals, the U.S. Women*s Nationals, the U.S. Veteran's Nationals or the Western Junior Regionals. The FOX Sports Network will televise a 90 minute broadcast of the finals on a delayed basis in late spring. Being co-produced for the 14th time by USA Wrestling and the Las Vegas Sports Committee (LVSC), the 2003 Las Vegas United States National Wrestling Championships, presented by Knickerbocker, is being held in the Hall N1-2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Action on 20 mats will run from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. on tomorrow and Thursday and from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday. Saturday, the morning session will run from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., followed by the U.S. National Championship Finals in Freestyle, Greco-Roman and Women*s Freestyle starting at 6 p.m. The Western Junior Regionals and U.S. Veterans Nationals will be on center stage tomorrow and Thursday with Greco-Roman competition tomorrow and Freestyle on Thursday. The featured senior divisions will be on the mats both Friday and Saturday. Over 50 entries in the Western Junior Regionals are from Nevada. Available at the door, preferred All-Event tickets are $65 each and General Admission All-Event tickets are on sale for $45 for adults and $20 for students (6 to 17 years old). Preferred daily tickets are $35 while General Admission daily tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Tickets to the Saturday*s 6 p.m. Finals will be available on the day of the event at the door. Preferred tickets will be $25 while General Admission tickets for the Finals will be $20 for adults and $10 for students. Information and tickets are available at 943.4226 or on the internet at www.lvsports.org. The lineup of competitors as this year's event rivals any Olympic-year championship as the road to next year's Olympics in Athens begins in Las Vegas for U.S. wrestlers. McCoy, 28 of Bethelem, Pa., is an assistant wrestling coach at Lehigh and is the reigning three-time U.S. Freestyle National Champion in Super Heavyweight (264.5 lbs.). Sanderson, 23 of Ames, Iowa, was the highly-decorated Iowa State undefeated college wrestler (159-0 career mark) who is now concentrating on Olympic-style competition with two straight U.S. Freestyle National Championships at 185 lbs. A two-time U.S. Women*s Freestyle National Champion at 158.5 lbs., Montgomery, 20 of Cleveland, attends Cumberland College in Kentucky where she is an Education major. Greco-Roman Super Heavyweights Byers, 28, originally of North Carolina and Gardner, the 32-year-old 2000 Olympic Gold medalist originally from Afton, Wyo., have six U.S. national titles between them. The dynamic duo are the last two World Champions at their weight class. In Las Vegas, America's finest wrestlers are competing for U.S. National Championships that will be decided in the seven international weight categories for senior men and senior women competitors. For men, the weight divisions are: 121 lbs. (55 kilograms), 132 lbs. (60 kg), 145.5 lbs. (66 kg), 163 lbs. (74 kg), 185 lbs. (84 kg), 211.5 lbs. (96 kg) and 264.5 lbs. (120 kg). The seven women*s weight divisions are: 105.5 lbs. (48 kg), 112 lbs. (51 kg), 121 lbs. (55 kg), 130 lbs. (59 kg), 138.75 lbs. (63 kg), 147.5 lbs. (67 kg) and 158.5 lbs. (72 kg). There are six weight categories for the Veterans divisions, split into five divisions based on ages. Competition this year includes Greco-Roman for the first time in addition to Freestyle. Titles in 15 weight divisions will be decided in the Western Junior Regionals. Any qualified junior wrestler may compete in one of seven regional championships held annually by USA Wrestling across the country. The top seven place winners in each weight class in men*s freestyle and men's Greco-Roman along with the top eight women*s place winners in each weight class will qualify for the U.S. World Team Trials to be held June 20-22 in Indianapolis. The top three finishers in each weight class in the Western Junior Regionals qualifying for the respective State teams for the Junior Nationals this summer. Las Vegas has hosted and the LVSC and USA Wrestling have worked together to hold 13 previous Nationals in the Southern Nevada area, including the past two years. It will be the 11th time the event will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Officially, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority is title sponsor of the event and presenting sponsor is Knickerbocker, L.L.C., of Gladstone, N.J. The championships are being sanctioned by USA Wrestling, the national governing body for the sport and is being co-produced by the Las Vegas Sports Committee and USAW. Volunteer meal sponsors this year include: Jason's Deli, Memphis Barbecue, Ricardos and Port of Subs. For 18 years, the LVSC, a non-profit organization benefitting the youth of Las Vegas, has been producing special events in the Las Vegas area. Other major wrestling events produced by the LVSC include the 1997 USA Wrestling Freestyle World Team Trials, the 1998 NAIA National Wrestling Championships and the 1998 Junior World Freestyle Wrestling Championships. In July of 1999, the LVSC presented the U.S. Taekwondo Junior Olympics with over 5,000 participants.To date, the LVSC has contributed nearly $300,000 to local youth programs.