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U.S. Olympic Team Trials Greco-Roman preview at 75 kg/165 lbs.

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | March 29, 2016, 2:07 p.m. (ET)

 Andy Bisek after winning a bronze medal at the 2015 World
Championships. Photo: Tony Rotundo,
Date of Competition:
Sunday, April 10

Weight currently qualified for the Olympic Games? Yes

Heavy-hitters comprise the top-tier of the 75 kg/165 lbs. Greco-Roman weight class that will be contested at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa.

Two-time World bronze medalist Andy Bisek (Colorado Springs, Colo./Minnesota Storm) has made every U.S. World Team this quadrennial at 75 kg and has displayed a high-level of dominance in doing so.

Bisek earned bronze medals at the 2014 World Championships held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the 2015 World Championships held in Las Vegas, Nev. He lost in the quarterfinals at both tournaments, but was able to battle back both times to claim World bronze. Last year, Bisek had to defeat two past World champions, Yavor Yanakiev (Bulgaria) and Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran), in the repechage rounds to earn his second World medal.

Since 2011 Bisek has competed on four U.S. World Teams (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015) and earned gold medals at the Pan American Games (2015), two Pan American Championships (2012, 2014), two U.S. Open Championships (2014, 2015), two Granma Cup competitions (2014, 2015) and two Dave Schultz Memorial International competitions (2012, 2014).

Courtesy of winning a medal at the 2015 World Championships, Bisek has automatically advanced to the 75 kg best two-of-three championship series set for Sunday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He will wrestle the winner of the challenge tournament bracket for the Olympic berth.

The obstacle looming large for Bisek to make his first U.S. Olympic Team is two-time World bronze medalist and 2012 Olympian Justin Lester (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP).

Similar to Bisek, Lester has made every U.S. World Team this quadrennial since his Olympic experience in London. However, Lester did not compete at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary due to injury even though he won the U.S. World Team Trials.

The past two seasons Lester has competed on the senior level at the non-Olympic weight class of 71 kg. He has elected to compete for the Olympic spot at 75 kg instead of dropping down to 66 kg where he made the U.S. Olympic Team four years ago.

Lester won his two World bronze medals in 2006 and 2007. At 32 years-of-age, Lester is an eight-time U.S. World Team member, six-time U.S. Open champion, World University Games bronze medalist (2005), CISM Military World Games silver medalist (2015) and a Cadet World champion (1999). He finished in third place at the U.S. Open in December.

2016 U.S. Open champion Geordan Speiller (Oviedo, Fla./Florida Jets) has emerged as a serious contender at 75 kg after being forced to take last year off after suffering a knee injury.

Speiller made his return to the mat at the U.S. Open in December and exceeded expectations. He took out Lester in the championship semifinals, 1-0, before handling 2011 U.S. World Team member Cheney Haight (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) in the gold medal match 5-1.

Recently, Speiller won his first NCWA national championship for the University of Central Florida at 174 pounds. He won four of his five matches at the national tournament by either fall or technical fall, including a pin in 2:32 in the championship finals.

High expectations exist at 75 kg for 25-year-old Kendrick Sanders (Homestead, Fla./New York AC/USOTS), who has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career.

Sanders finished in third place at the 71 kg U.S. World Team Trials last year behind Lester and Pat Smith (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm). This year he has only competed at the Bill Farrell International where he won the gold medal and picked up a big 5-0 win over Lester in the finals.

The win at the Bill Farrell gave Sanders his second such honor in as many years. In addition, he is a U.S. Open champion (2014), two-time Dave Schultz Memorial International champion (2012, 2014), University Nationals champion (2012).

U.S. Open runner-up Haight has been impressive since returning to active competition in late 2014. He has picked up two third place finishes at the Bill Farrell International (2014, 2015) and a third place finish at the 2015 U.S. Open to go along with his Haavisto Cup and U.S. Open silver medals this season.

Additional athletes that qualified at 75 kg based on top-seven finishes at the U.S. Open include Tarrence Williams (Portland, Ore./CSU Pueblo Wrestling RTC), Corey Hope (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC/USOTC), Jake Fisher (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) and Barrett Stanghill (Philipsburg, Mont./New York AC/USOTS).

Last year’s U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Dillon Cowan (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) was unable to place at the U.S. Open, but was able to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials by placing second at the Dave Schultz Memorial International.

2015 NCAA runner-up at 165 pounds Taylor Walsh (Cherry Hill, N.J./Rider Broncos WC) is new to the Greco-Roman circuit, but has big move potential and could play a key role in determining who emerges at this weight class.

Also qualified to compete at 75 kg in Iowa City are past Cadet World medalists Jon Jay Chavez (Boise, Idaho/Titan Mercury WC) and Mason Manville (Lorton, Va./Minnesota Storm).

One more athlete will be added to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials field at 65 kg with the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier being held next weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Only the champion at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier will qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

For more information on the U.S. Olympic Team Trials visit the official event website

U.S. Olympic Team Trials Qualifiers as of March 29

75 kg/165 lbs.
’15 World Medalist advances to Trials Finals Series – Andy Bisek, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Minnesota Storm)

Olympic Team Trials Tournament qualifiers
’15 World Team member – Justin Lester, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
2012-14 Cadet/Junior World medalist age eligible – Jon Jay Chavez, Boise, Idaho (Titan Mercury WC)
2012-14 Cadet/Junior World medalist age eligible – Mason Manville, Lorton, Va. (Minnesota Storm)
’15 Bill Farrell International champion – Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (New York AC/USOTS)
’15 Vantaa Cup bronze medalist - Taylor Walsh, Cherry Hill, N.J. (Rider Broncos WC)
’15 Haavisto Cup silver medalist – Cheney Haight, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Geordan Speiller, Oviedo, Fla. (Florida Jets)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Tarrence Williams, Portland, Ore. (CSU Pueblo Wrestling RTC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Corey Hope, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC/USOTC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Jacob Fisher, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Barrett Stanghill, Philipsburg, Mont. (NYAC/USOTS)
’16 Dave Schultz Memorial runner-up– Dillon Cowan, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
’16 Final Olympic Trials Qualifier champion –