Three Soldiers earn berths in Wrestling World Championships
June 15, 2010
By Tim Hipps
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (Army News Service, June 15, 2010) -- Three Soldiers earned berths in the 2010 FILA Wrestling World Championships by winning their weight classes at the U.S. World Team Trials on June 10-11 at the Mid-America Center here.
U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman wrestlers Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers, Spc. Faruk Sahin and Spc. Jeremiah Davis earned spots on Team USA for the second consecutive year. The World Championships are slated for Sept. 6-10 in Moscow, Russia.
Byers won two straight matches against WCAP teammate Spc. Timothy Taylor in the best-of-three-match finals of the 120-kilogram/264.5-pound division.
Sahin needed three matches, including all three periods of the third, to defeat WCAP teammate Staff Sgt. Glenn Garrison at 66 kilograms/145.5 pounds.
"Garrison just beat him a month ago at the U.S. Open and they went to the third rubber match here, so you knew that could go either way," WCAP head coach Shon Lewis said. "Faruk wrestled a good, sound match and Garrison wrestled a smart match, but it just takes one minor mistake."
"Garrison got out of position at the end and tried to correct it by doing something that he normally doesn't do and he ended up going to his back."
Sahin explained his winning move another way.
"The move that I did was like duck under," he said. "The first one I did with my right leg. And the last one I did with my left leg. So he tried to catch me with the same move and it didn't work."
"That was 'I go fishing,' and I figured that one out."
After winning their classic Greco battle, Sahin would not let go of Garrison. He even tried pulling four of the Army assistant coaches from the corners onto the center of the mat to share in the glory of getting his hand raised.
"This is our team spirit before practice, during practice and after practice - we are always together," Sahin explained. "We know that we are fighting for the warriors, we are representing the warriors, but at the end we are like teammates, like brothers."
"It's not like, 'Hey, I'm done with you. I beat you. Go away.' I said, 'Come on, come on, team together.' That's why I didn't want to let him go," he added. ""I didn't want to let him go even though we were all bloody and everything. I'm good friends with all of my opponents, but during the match, I don't know who they are."
Davis prevailed in two straight matches against All-Army wrestler Spc. Nathan Piasecki in another all-Soldier showdown in the finals at 60 kilograms/132 pounds.
Piasecki admittedly lost his cool when a referee's call did not go his way, and that hurt him throughout the fray against the poised Davis.
"Sometimes he lets his emotions get the best of him, even in practice," Lewis said of Piasecki. "I tried to point that out to him so hopefully, once he cools down a little bit and he's able to think sensibly, he'll reflect back on this weekend and see where he mentally took himself out of the matches."
Piasecki said he understands what his coach means.
"That's just how I normally wrestle," Piasecki said. "I just want to go, I want to win, and I just go hard. I mean it's tough to wrestle a guy who just moves back and I get frustrated a little bit when I get a bad call. And then, you know, it's my fault - I wasn't keeping my head. Yeah, it cost me the match. It probably cost me both matches. I can't let the refs get involved. I've got to be smarter."
"I have to keep my head when stuff's not going my way. To be honest with you, that front headlock he hasn't gotten on me in a year, and I allowed it to happen. It was my bad."
Davis maintained his composure through both wild and wooly matches and won by scores of 2-0, 4-1 and 2-0, 5-0.
"He kind of lost his head a few times and I capitalized on it," Davis said. "This is the World Team Trials so everybody's heart and soul is in it, so it's acceptable to get mad at this tournament ... in the training room, we don't go as hard as out here because someone could get hurt, but we still have our days when we give it our all."
In Iowa, an out-of-control Piasecki threw the veritable kitchen sink at Davis, who rarely flinched.
"Nothing was said. It was just hitting and head-butting," Davis said. "Yeah, that's the way he wrestles; I had to be ready for it. I knew he wrestles like that so I just had to be ready in my mind and be ready to go to war. I know I caught him by surprise because he wasn't expecting me to keep trying and keep pushing. But that's the whole thing, you can never quit, never give up at any time."
"When you get angry, you tend to make mistakes, so I capitalized on it."
His coach appreciated the way Davis dealt with the challenge.
"If I can just get Jeremiah to wrestle every match like he does when it's two out of three - last year he wrestled great against Garrison, and this year he wrestled great against Piasecki," Lewis said. "If I can get him to wrestle like that every round and every period, then we'll have a lot better chance of chasing a medal."
"He's been thrown into the fight and he got kind of scuffed up last year," Lewis said of Davis' return to the World Championships, where he lost his first match of the 2009 tournament in Herning, Denmark. "He knows mentally what to prepare for and exactly how it's going to be. It's not a guessing game anymore."
"He's seen the picture, so he knows exactly what the colors look like."
Byers has won a medal of every color - gold, silver and bronze - at the World Championships.
"He wrestled as expected: dominant," Lewis said. "He really wasn't ever in any danger of getting scored on - just making sure that we got on that bus to get to go to Moscow. That was the big plan for here. We weren't really trying to see where we're at as far as peaking or anything - just making sure that we got our airline ticket punched."
"Taylor came through and had a great match against Brandon Rupp," Lewis said of another elite wrestler who is considering joining the Army. "I think that was his first time beating him. If he had beaten him before that, it's been a while."
Byers did just enough to win against teammate Taylor, whom he relishes having as a training partner and never takes for granted.
"Tim Taylor is a guy that can do all the moves I can do," Byers said. "You won't see him doing them much, but it's in him to do them. I don't take him lightly for any reason. When we get in here I just want to be careful with him and keep it easy on my part and don't go all out and crazy because that guy can wrestle. "
"It hurts to have your teammate in a final. It just sucks. But it says a lot. It says how tough your room is. If you've got the number one and number two guys in the nation in your room, that says something. The guy is a great wrestler and I just think that you've got to watch him."
Although seven Soldiers represented the Army in the finals of the World Team Trials, six of them squared off against teammates for three spots on the U.S. team.
"That's the easy part of my day once they make it to the finals if they're head-to-head," Lewis said. "It's going to be sweet and sour - sweet for one guy in the room and sour for another guy in the room. But they're all in the same room and I've got to coach them. That's what our staff does: we don't pick favorites."
"We put together a training plan and then let iron sharpen iron. This has been an outstanding World Team Trials for us, but we've got to get better. We've seen some things that we definitely have to correct as soon as we get back [to Fort Carson] and we've got to keep working hard."
New York Athletic Club's Spenser Mango, a 2008 Olympian, made his second consecutive U.S. World Team by winning two straight matches against WCAP Spc. Jermaine Hodge in the Greco-Roman finals at 55 kilograms/121 pounds.
"Those guys are going to battle and they're going to continue to battle," Lewis said. "Hodge just made some little mistakes, but that's all it takes is one little mistake here and there and you're going to come up a little short."
"That's my nemesis right there," Hodge said of Mango, who is contemplating joining the Army. "If he comes to WCAP, that's a good thing, too. It's just going to make 55 that much tougher when it comes to going overseas and beating those guys - not just representing the Army, but representing the U.S., too."
"You put in all the work, you believe in your coaches, and you fall a little short, but deep down inside you've got to believe in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. You've got to believe in the coaches and you've got to believe in yourself. If I keep getting back here, something's going to happen soon."
Byers, the heavyweight world champion in 2002, echoed that sentiment.
"I've got more to prove," Byers said. "And at this tournament I found out I've got more people believing in me and that means a lot... a whole lot to me and I'm going to carry them with me."
(Tim Hipps serves with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs.)