Schultz Memorial Rewind – Seven fantastic finals matchups from the Dave Schultz history books

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 12, 2017, 9:09 p.m. (ET)
Mike Zadick of the USA looks down at Magomed Kurbanaliev of Russia after winning the freestyle 60 kg finals bout at the 2010 Dave Schultz Memorial International. Photo by Larry Slater.

With 19 years of great action in the three Olympic disciplines, there have been many great matchups during the finals round of competition at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. Numerous World and Olympic medalists entered the tournament each year, leading to some great battles in the gold-medal rounds.

Looking back over many finals, it is hard to pick the best finals bout. For this article, we will only look at matches which include international opponents, not looking at USA vs. USA finals bouts. With that said, we have scoured the finals results from every Dave Schultz Memorial International, looking for matchups that included highly successful wrestlers and competitive finishes.

The 20th Dave Schultz Memorial International will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., November 1-4, 2017. Perhaps one of the finals match this year can match or beat these seven finals bouts in terms of importance and excitement.

No. 7 – 2006 DSMI, Greco-Roman, 55 kg/121 lbs
Lindsey Durlacher, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC) dec. Kohei Hasegawa (Japan), 6-1, 2-1

Lindsey Durlacher, the scrappy U.S. Greco-Roman star, drew one of Japan’s top young Greco wrestlers, Kohei Hasegawa in the finals of the 2006 Dave Schultz Memorial. Durlacher, an NCAA runner-up at Illinois, was coming into his own on the Greco-Roman scene, competing on his first Senior World Team in 2005. Hasegawa was on Japan Cadet and Junior World Team member just making his Senior debut. Durlacher won the first period, 6-1, and closed out the win in the second period, 2-1, to capture his second career Schultz title. Durlacher said after the win, “This proves I am doing the right things.” Durlacher went on to win a World bronze medal in 2006, and was a member of the 2007 U.S. team that won the Greco-Roman World Team title. Hasegawa competed in three World Championships and an Olympic Games for Japan.

No. 6 – 2004 DSMI, Women’s freestyle, 48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Patricia Miranda, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Dave Schultz WC) dec. Brigitte Wagner (Germany), 3-1

It was a battle of two of the world’s best lightweight women wrestlers when 2002 World champion Brigette Wagner of Germany drew Patricia Miranda of the United States, a two-time World silver medalist, in the 48 kg finals of the 2004 Dave Schultz Memorial. It was a historic year for women’s wrestling, when the sport was gearing up for its first appearance on the Olympic program at the Athens Summer Games later in the year. Miranda won a closely contested 3-1 bout in the Schultz finals, at the time her second DSMI gold medal. She scored three one-point takedowns in the match and was named Outstanding Wrestler in the women’s division. Before her career was over, Miranda would win a 2004 Olympic bronze medal, and add another World bronze medal to her collection. Wagner also competed in the 2004 Olympics, but never added another World medal.

No. 5 – 2002 DSMI, Men’s freestyle, 85 kg/187.25 lbs.
Khadjimourat Magomedov (Russia) dec. Khadjimourat Gatsalov (Russia), 7-4

This was a battle between the old guard and the new stars from the Russian program. Magomedov was a 1996 Olympic champion and 2001 World champion, nearing the end of his career. Gatsalov was a 19-year-old star who had not yet represented Russia in a major event, except as part of the 2001 World Cup team. Normally when Russians face each other in the finals of international opens, the matches are low scoring and conservative in nature. That was clearly not the case in this battle, as both Magomedov and Gataslov were able to score points, with the Olympic champion beating the young rising star, 7-4. It was considered the most compelling finals bout that night. Magomedov would not compete in another World or Olympic event for Russia, retiring a year later. Gatsalov went on to become a 2004 Olympic champion, five-time World champion and seven-time World medalist, competing all the way through 2016.

No. 4 – 2010 DSMI, Men’s freestyle, 60 kg/132 lbs.
Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Gator WC) dec. Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia), 0-1, 3-0, 6-0

2006 World silver medalist and 2008 Olympian Mike Zadick was one of the top American freestyle wrestlers in the Dave Schultz field of 2010. Zadick had to beat American rival Nate Gallick in three periods in the semifinals to reach the gold-medal round. On the other side of the bracket, Magomed Kurbanaliev, a new 17-year-old Russian who had never appeared in an international event before, also qualified for the finals. Kurbanaliev won the first period 1-0, but Zadick powered back to take period two with a 3-0 score. In the deciding third period, Zadick broke Kurbanalieve, scoring a 6-0 technical fall to secure the gold medal. Kurbanaliev went on to become one of Russia’s top stars, winning a World gold medal in 2016, a World bronze medal in 2013 and a 2012 Junior World title. In his second Schultz appearance, Kurbanaliev won the 66 kg gold medal in 2013. Zadick competed through 2011 and then retired.

No. 3 – 2005 DSMI, Greco-Roman, 60 kg/132 lbs.
Joe Warren, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Nikolay Gergov (Bulgaria), 3-0, 3-0

Two of the world’s best rising Greco-Roman stars met in the 60 kg finals of the 2005 Dave Schultz Memorial, as Joe Warren of the USA faced Nikolay Gergov of Bulgaria. Warren had spent years behind American stars Dennis Hall and Jim Gruenwald, building up his skill and experience. Gergov had already become one of Bulgaria’s top wrestlers, a three-time Senior World Team member and 2004 Olympian, but not yet a medalist. A week prior to Schultz, Gergov defeated Warren, 1-0, 1-0 in their dual meet matchup at the Kit Carson Cup, also held in Colorado Springs. This time, a fired-up Warren took control in the Schultz finals, scoring a 3-0, 3-0 win over Gergov for his first and only Schultz gold medal. Gergov went on to win the 2005 World gold medal at 66 kg, while Warren became a 2006 World champion at 60 kg. Ironically, Gergov would win two Dave Schultz gold medals later in his career in 2007 and 2008.

No. 2 – 2001 DSMI, Women’s freestyle, 62 kg/136.5 lbs.
Sara McMann, Lock Haven, Pa. (Sunkist Kids) pin Sara Eriksson (Sweden), 5:09

In 2001, Sara Eriksson of Sweden was one of the most decorated women wrestlers, with two World titles (1995, 1996) and a total of six World medals to her credit. Sara McMann of the United States was a top young star on Team USA, a member of both the Junior World Team and Senior World Team in 2000. McMann won a gold medal at the 2000 Dave Schultz Memorial, the first year with a women’s division. When McMann and Eriksson reached the 2001 Schultz finals, the result was a bit surprising. McMann led 6-0 before securing a pin in 5:09. McMann was named Outstanding Wrestler in the women’s division. Eriksson would add one more medal to her trophy case, a 2002 World silver and would compete in the first Olympics for women’s wrestling in 2004. McMann won a 2003 World silver medal, a 2004 Olympic silver medal and a pair of World bronze medals in 2005 and 2007. McMann is currently a top star in Mixed Martial Arts, competing for the UFC.

No. 1 – 2000 DSMI, Men’s freestyle, 54 kg/119 lbs.
Stephen Abas, Fresno, Calif. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Wilfredo Garcia (Cuba), 4-3

In 2000, Cuban lightweight star Wilfredo Garcia was already considered one of the elite wrestlers on earth, a 1997 World champion and 1999 Pan American champion. Stephen Abas of the USA won a 1998 Junior World title, and was a 1999 NCAA champion for Fresno State on a redshirt year. Abas and Garcia made their way to the 54 kg finals at the second-ever Dave Schlultz Memorial. In a tight battle decided by a single point, Abas beat Garcia 4-3 and was named Outstanding Wrestler in freestyle at the Schultz Memorial. It was also considered the biggest upset of the event that year. Abas would go on and win two more NCAA titles for Fresno State, making him a three-timer. Abas added a 2003 Pan American Games gold and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Garcia did not medal at the 2000 Olympics or the 2001 Worlds, and then retired.