2007 Greco-Roman World Championship team enjoys 10-year reunion in Las Vegas last weekend

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | May 04, 2017, 5:20 p.m. (ET)

2007 Greco Team Leader John Bardis as a guest speaker at the social. Photos by Justin Hoch, jhoch.com

Last weekend at the 2017 U.S. Open and World Team Trials in Las Vegas, the 2007 U.S. Greco-Roman World Championship team reunited to celebrate the 10th-year anniversary of accomplishing what most people believed couldn’t be done by the USA: winning the Greco-Roman World Championship team title.

With key performances from silver medalist Brad Vering (84 kg) and bronze medalists Justin Lester (66 kg) and Dremiel Byers (120 kg), the United States edged out powerhouse Russia by one point in the team race.

Also pushing the U.S. to world victory was a fifth-place finish from the late Lindsey Durlacher, who passed away in 2011, and TC Dantzler’s first-round win over then-reigning World Champion and Ukranian Volodimir Shatskykh.

“It was a dream come true,” 2007 Greco-Roman National Coach Steve Fraser said. “A lot of people didn’t give the U.S. team a shot to win, but through the dedication of the athletes, volunteer coaches, paid staff and everyone who believe in the dream, we got it done. For us to continue to fight through those doubts and struggles and be able to keep that goal in mind, was remarkable. I’m so proud of not only the team that won it but all those through the years who helped us get there.”

The reunion was put together and sponsored by Greco-Roman Team Leader for the 2005-08 quad and now the Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within the Trump administration, John Bardis.

“John Bardis was one of the key leaders of our program during that quad,” Fraser said. “He’s generous guy and a committed guy. He not only supported us financially, he would jump in the sauna with you and help you make weight, which he did on occasion. We owe a lot to John Bardis. We are so grateful for him.”

The wrestlers, staff and families involved in the success of the 2007 Greco team enjoyed a nice, intimate dinner on Friday at Aureole to kick off the celebration.

On Saturday evening, those involved with the 2007 Greco-Roman World team, past World and Olympic team members and VIPs met at the Cinch Saloon inside the South Point Hotel for a social.

“I’m pleased to say we got just about everybody back,” Bardis said at Saturday night’s social. “It’s a special time. We’re also celebrating the many great athletes, who came before this particular group and made it possible for them to be as capable at the international level as they were. When we did win, we made sure to share the wealth. There were maybe 70 or 80 former Greco wrestlers and coaches who have the World Championship ring because of the important role they played in leading to a World title.”

Food, friends and familiar faces set the tone for a comfortable and laughter-filled evening.

Bardis was a guest speaker at the event, reminiscing on some of his favorite memories of the 2007 experience and presenting all those involved with an official 2007 World Championship Team jacket and Leroy Neiman print of World and Olympic champion Dave Schultz.

Shortly after, the team made its way down to the main stage of the U.S. Open, prior to the finals, where they were recognized and received a standing ovation from the thousands of wrestling spectators in the stands for their achievements.

The team members also shared stories about teammate Durlacher, who was a fiery competitor with a colorful personality. Durlacher has been honored with a memorial bench at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and has been inducted into the Alan and Gloria Rice Greco-Roman Hall of Champions posthumously.

“[Winning the 2007 World Championship] was a special and unique time in history,” 2007 Greco World Team member Dantzler said. “At the time when you’re making history, you don’t even notice it, but after it’s over and you look back, we did something really special. It’s been 10 years and hasn’t been done again, but we’re waiting on this next generation to go ahead and do it!”

2007 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team roster and results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Col./New York AC), 5th
60 kg/132 lbs. - Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill./New York AC/USOEC), dnp/33rd
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio/USOEC/Gator WC), 3rd
74 kg/163 lbs.
- T.C. Dantzler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), dnp/22nd
84 kg/185 lbs. - Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 2nd
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
- Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), dnp/13th
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
- Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 3rd

Greco-Roman National Coach – Steve Fraser
Coach – Jay Antonelli
Coach – Rich Estrella
Coach – Ivan Ivanov
Coach – Shon Lewis
Coach – Momir Petkovic
Coach - Anatoly Petrosyan

Team Leader – John Bardis
Medical – Rod Rodriguez

Official - Rick Tucci
Official - Dave Errett