MARQUETTE—United States Olympic Education Center Greco-Roman wrestler Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio) took first at the U.S. World Team Trials for the third consecutive year at 66 kilograms. The competition ran June 9-10 in Las Vegas. It served as a qualifier for the 2007 World Championships this September in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Lester won bronze at the 2006 World Championships, but he has his eyes set on another color.
“In the next couple of months, I have to train my butt off, get myself prepared and go get a gold medal,” he said.
The Northern Michigan University post-baccalaureate student defeated teammate and NMU senior Jacob Curby (LaGrange, Ill.) in the championship match. He pinned Curby at 1:04 in the first round and overpowered him 7-0, 7-0 in the second. Curby grabbed silver for his efforts.
“I just went out and got it going on my feet,” said Lester. “I love to throw for show. It makes it more exciting for me. I work from different positions and take what I can get.”
Lester, who was named the USOEC athlete of the year, has overcome family tragedies, a shoulder injury and, most recently, a knee injury to defend his position on the U.S. World Team. He managed to stay positive throughout the setbacks.
“I am happy mentally,” Lester said. “I love to wrestle. I don’t put pressure on myself. I love to have fun.”
Junior Spenser Mango (St. Louis, Mo.) wrestled his way to silver in the 55-kg class. He was overtaken by world bronze medalist Lindsay Durlacher (New York Athletic Club) in the finals. Durlacher defeated him 2-0, 2-0 in the first round of the championship match and 2-0, 1-1 in the second.
Junior Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill.) won silver at 60 kg as well. He lost to world champion Joe Warren (New York Athletic Club) in the finals. Warren outmaneuvered Betterman 6-0, 7-2 in the first round and 2-1, 6-0 in the second.
Junior Kerry Regner (Darlington, Pa.) also competed at 60 kg, taking third. Regner defeated Jason Tolbert (U.S. Army) 0-7, 4-0, 3-0 in the bronze-medal match. Regner also wrestled in the 60-kg “true third-place” match. USOEC facility user Willie Madison (Metairie, La.) overtook him 5-2, 1-1.
Junior Jacob Fisher (Platte City, Mo.) took third at 74 kg as well. He defeated Trent Paulson (Sunkist Kids) 5-0, 6-0 in the bronze-medal match.
Teammate and NMU freshman Jake Plamann (Appleton, Wis.) also won bronze at 84 kg. He defeated fellow USOEC athlete and NMU junior Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn.) 1-1, 1-1 to earn a position on the podium.
The USOEC was represented by nine other athletes at the competition. Facility user Nate Engel (St. Helena, Calif.) wrestled to the 55-kg semifinals, where Durlacher defeated him 6-0, 4-1. Engel tried to come back in the consolation semis, but Josh Habeck (U.S. Army) overpowered him 7-0, 4-5, 1-1.
NMU freshman Jake Swensen (Moroni, Utah) was overtaken by Madison 3-4, 3-0, 4-3 in the 60-kg semifinals. He was defeated by Tolbert in the consolation semis 5-3, 5-1.
In the 66-kg class, NMU alum Marco Lara (Long Beach, Calif.) made it to his second consolation match, but Mark Rial (Gator Wrestling Club) defeated him 3-0, 1-1. Junior Tim Bleau (Ishpeming) wrestled to the consolation semis where his was overtaken by Faruk Sahin (U.S. Army) 2-1, 6-0. USOEC facility user Ben Sanchez (Chicago, Ill.) was unable to come back after an early loss to Curby. James Johnson (U.S. Army) beat him 3-0, 1-1, 7-0 in the first consolation match.
At 74 kg, junior Cheney Haight (Drem, Utah) lost to Paulson 0-7, 5-0, 2-2 in the quarterfinals. He fought his way back in the consolation bracket, defeating teammate and NMU junior Kevin Lozano (Jefferson, La.) 1-1, 3-0, 1-1 in his third match. Haight wrestled his way to the consolation semis, where he lost to Fisher 7-0, 4-5, 1-1. Teammate and NMU junior Andy Bisek (Chaska, Minn.) also lost to Fisher 5-2, 7-1 in the quarterfinals. Bisek wrestled back in the consolation bracket, but fellow USOEC athlete and NMU freshman Talan Knox (Salt Lake City, Utah) defeated him 3-0, 1-1 in the third match. Knox advanced to the consolation semis where Paulson overpowered him 4-0, 1-1, 2-0.
Peter Gournaridis (Leominster, Mass.) made it to the 96-kg quarterfinals where former USOEC athlete Adam Wheeler (Gator Wrestling Club) overtook him 3-0, 6-0. Gournaridis wrestled to the second round of consolation matches, but lost to Brad Ahearn (U.S. Army) 1-1, 2-4, 4-1.
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