CLEVELAND — Glenn Garrison and Nathan Piasecki led Army wrestlers to the Greco-Roman team title April 23-24 at the U.S. Open in Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center.
Eight Soldiers competed in the finals of the national championships for Olympic-style wrestling.Garrison defeated U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate and 2009 World Team member Faruk Sahin 0-2, 3-0, 1-0 in the 145.4-pound Greco-Roman finale.
“I’m still hungry and I haven’t won it yet, so that’s what I’m still shooting for,” said Garrison, who still wants to win a world championship. “I want to be able to say I’m the best in the world.”
Garrison, 36, knows the clock is ticking.
“I have two years until I retire from wrestling,” he said.
“My short-term goal is making the world team and my long-term goals are winning at the World Championships, making the Olympic team and winning at the Olympic championships.”
Sahin was heavily bandaged because of a head-butt he sustained April 23 that required eight stitches in his forehead. The next day, Sahin suffered a bloody nose that turned his semifinal match against New York Athletic Club’s Ellis Coleman into a veritable blood bath.
“This is a gladiator sport,” WCAP coach Shon Lewis said. “I don’t recall a match that bloody. It’s been a long time, but this is the U.S. Open for the national championships and it’s a great stepping stone to achieve, step over, and step on.”
The top seven finishers in each weight class at the U.S. Open qualified for a spot in USA Wrestling’s World Team Trials, scheduled for June 11-12 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“The real meat and potatoes are made at the World Team Trials in six weeks,” Lewis said, “where we determine who is going to be the number one-ranked guy and who is going to represent the United States at the World Championships in Moscow.”
Piasecki prevailed over Sunkist Kids’ Chad Vandiver by injury default in the 132-pound Greco division.
Piasecki, 28, had never finished higher than third at nationals.
“I’m real happy about this,” he said. “This is like a dream come true. I’ve trained really, really hard and lifted really, really hard, and I feel like I really peaked extremely well this time. I had an injury in January that allowed me to sit a little bit for my body to heal and mentally focus to get ready for this tournament.“All my closest friends have been telling me I was going to win it this year and I just believed them. This is the ultimate for me right now, but my goal is the Olympics. This is a good step to get … international experience. …”
Olympian and World Team member Spenser Mango scored in the waning seconds to defeat defending national champion, WCAP’s Jermaine Hodge, 0-1, 1-0, 2-0 at 55 kilos/121 pounds.All-Army wrestler Jess Hargrave lost a 1-0, 1-0 decision to New York Athletic Club’s Jake Fisher in the finale at 163 pounds.
WCAP wrestler John Lorenz lost 2-0, 1-0 to six-time national champion Justin Ruiz of New York Athletic Club in the 211.5-pound Greco finale.
In women’s freestyle, WCAP’s Othella Lucas returned from a two-year hiatus from wrestling and upset top-seeded Deanna Rix in the 158.5-pound semifinals before losing 2-0, 1-0 in the finals to Sunkist Kids’ Kelsey Campbell, who was named outstanding female wrestler of the tournament.
Four-time national champion, WCAP’s Iris Smith, lost 1-0, 5-0 to Stephany Lee in the women’s finale at 158.5 pounds.
Three Soldiers finished third in their respective Greco-Roman weight classes: Jeremiah Davis at 132.25 pounds, Sieracki at 185 pounds and Timothy Taylor at 264.5 pounds.