Soldier earns USA Wrestler of Week title
February 15, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, Feb. 15, 2012) -- Greco-Roman wrestler Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers won a record sixth heavyweight title at the 2012 Dave Schultz Memorial International and was subsequently named Wrestler of the Week for Jan. 31-Feb. 6 by USA Wrestling.
Byers of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program defeated Germany's Nico Schmidt, a past fifth-place finisher at the World Championships, 1-0, 1-0, in the 120-kilogram/264.5-pound Greco-Roman finals Feb. 4 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
"Going into an Olympic year, you've got to try to get as many warm-up tournaments as you can, and the Dave Schultz has always been good for that," Byers said. "It's in your backyard and you can sleep in your bed and go get some tough competition. People are looking for good winter training camps."
"We're in a prime location for people to come here, from sea level or wherever they're at, train at altitude, then go on to their next tournament and reap the benefits," he said. "Whether it's about tremendous competition or just getting a different look, everyone's coming here for that. It's been proven that it's as good a tournament as you can find in the United States."
Byers passed Olympic and World medalist Patricia Miranda for the most championships when he won the Dave Schultz Memorial International.
"I didn't know that going into the tournament," Byers said of Miranda's accomplishment. "I had no idea about that stat. Every time you do something like that, it's a blessing. You want to be proud, and you have to be proud."
"I'm kind of wondering what other records are out there -- that's one of those things that keep you going," he added. "You don't want to be a record-chaser, but it's a motivating thing. And when you accidentally get one, it's even better."
Byers appreciated being named Wrestler of the Week by the governing body of United States Wrestling for the sixth time in his career.
"It definitely means something to me," he said. "I feel fortunate and blessed things like that even happen to me -- every time and anytime -- so staying humble is something that I always do because I know one day I won't ever see my name up there again."
"I think about that, and I'm very appreciative of that fact. Yeah, it's a motivator to always keep pressing, just keep pressing," he said.
A 2002 world champion, Byers holds the distinction of being the lone U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to have won gold, silver and bronze medals at the world championships. Now his sights are set on qualifying with Team USA for a heavyweight berth in the 2012 Olympics in London. He can do so by finishing among the top two in his weight class at the Pan American Olympic Qualifying Tournament March 24 in Kissimmee, Fla.
"That has to go well," Byers said. "I'm thinking to myself, that's going to be it. If there's something else after that, then that means something went wrong. If I don't do it there, I'll have to go to another qualifier overseas somewhere and it will be crowded and populated, so I've just got to get it done."
The final two Olympic qualifying tourneys will be in Taiyuan, China, and Helsinki, Finland. Most of the U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling weight classes are not yet qualified to compete in the London Games, but Byers feels no pressure to accomplish the mission.
"I'll have to get an interpreter. I don't know what kind of pressure those guys are going to be feeling when I go to Kissimmee," Byers said with a laugh. "I don't know. I just know that they are going to feel it. I'm not going to feel it. I'm getting loose. I've got to get this done."
Other Army world class wrestlers who fared well at the Dave Schultz Memorial International included:
Sgt. Spenser Mango won the 55-kilogram/121-pound division by pinning India's Raiender Kumar at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the second period. Spc. Jermaine Hodge finished third in that weight class with a 1-0, 3-0 victory over Japan's Tomoaki Nakano.
"I want to make this Olympic Team and this World Team," Hodge said. "I'm not competing to win Dave Schultz. I'm competing to make the Olympic Team and win medals."
Spc. Jeremiah Davis took the silver medal after losing 0-1, 3-2, 2-0 to India's Anil Kumar at 60 kilograms/132 pounds. Spc. Marco Lara finished third in that weight class after losing 0-1, 2-0, 3-0 to Sunkist Kids' Jesse Thielke of Germantown, Wis.
Spc. Faruk Sahin finished third at 66-kilograms/145.5 pounds with a 6-0, 0-1, 2-1 victory over Japan's Takuya Tomizuka.
Spc. Peter Hicks took third place in the 84-kilogram/185-pound division by injury default against WCAP teammate Sgt. Aaron Sieracki.