All eight members of 2000 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Team are first-time Olympians

<< Back to Articles
Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

All eight champions of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Greco-Roman will be attending their first Olympic Games. The team was determined at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Dallas, June 24. Four past U.S. Olympic team members were defeated in the finals, including three 1996 Olympic silver medalists.    At 119 pounds, Steven Mays (Pensacola, Fla./U.S. Navy) scored a two-match sweep over 1996 Olympic silver medalist Brandon Paulson (Golden Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm), 3-0 and 5-0. Mays, a member of the 1999 U.S. World Team, was a Challenge Tournament champion, and avenged a loss to Paulson at the 2000 U.S. Nationals finals.    At 127.75 pounds, Jim Gruenwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) dropped the first match, but rallied with two victories in the second session to defeat 1996 Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids). Hall captured the first match, 3-2, but Gruenwald tied the series with a 3-0 victory in match two. In the deciding third match, Gruenwald scored a 8-3 victory. Gruenwald and Hall have been battling in major events going back to their days as Wisconsin high school athletes, and this is the first time that Gruenwald has won a tournament against Hall. In addition to his Olympic silver, Hall won the 1995 World gold medal, a 1994 World bronze medal and competed on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team.    At 286 pounds, Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) needed three matches to defeat 1996 Olympic silver medalist Matt Ghaffari (Avon Lake, Ohio/Sunkist Kids). Gardner won the first match in a 2-2 overtime referee's decision. Ghaffari rebounded with a 2-1 overtime referee's decision in the second bout. In the deciding third bout, Gardner stopped Ghaffari in a 1-0 overtime referee's decision. Gardner was fifth at the 1997 World Championships, and beat Ghaffari in the 2000 U.S. Nationals finals. Besides his Olympic silver, Ghaffari won three World Championships medals and was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.    At 213.75 pounds, 20-year-old Garrett Lowney (Appleton, Wis./Minnesota Storm) scored a two-match sweep over 1996 Olympian Jason Gleasman (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC). Lowney won both matches, 3-0 in overtime, needing 7:21 in bout one and  8:59 in bout two. Lowney was a 1999 Junior World Champion and is the youngest member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team for wrestling in both styles.    Winning the 138.75-pound Olympic berth was Kevin Bracken (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), who defeated Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in two straight matches, 4-0 and 7-4. Bracken was the 2000 U.S. Nationals champion, and competed in the 1998 World Championships.    In a competitive three-match series, Heath Sims (Huntington Beach, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) defeated Chris Saba (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 152 pounds. Sims won the first match, 5-2 in overtime at 7:32, but Saba rebounded to win the second match, 4-0. Match three went to Sims, by a 3-1 margin. Sims, the 2000 U.S. Nationals champion, was a member of the 1995 World Team.    At 167.5 pounds, Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) won a tight three-match series over 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Matt Lindland (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids). Sieracki won the first match, 7-3, but Lindland rebounded with a 4-0 victory. Sieracki scored a 2-1 overtime referee's decision in the third match to claim the series.    After dropping the first match at 187.25 pounds, Quincey Clark (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm) won both matches in the second session to beat Ethan Bosch (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), to claim the series, two matches to one. Bosch won the first match by injury default in 3:00, but Clark came back to win the next matches, 8-0 and 6-2. Clark was a member of the 1998 and 1999 World Teams.