By Tim HippsJune 21, 2010
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (Army News Service, June 21, 2010) - U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers has been selected as the 2009 Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling.
The announcement was made June 11 during a break in the action at the U.S. World Team Trials for Wrestling at Mid-America Center.
Byers, 35, of Fort Carson, Colo., won the prestigious award twice before, in 1999 and in 2002, the year he was world champion at 120 kilograms/264.5 pounds.
Byers struck silver at the 2009 Wrestling World Championships in Herning, Denmark, where he was the lone U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to medal.
He is the only American winner of medals of every color - gold, silver and bronze - at the World Championships. Byers is tied at three with former U.S. heavyweight Matt Ghaffari for most Greco-Roman medals won at the World Championships by an American.
He'll get a chance to break that tie at the 2010 FILA Wrestling World Championships, slated for Sept. 6-10 in Moscow.
"They know that I'm coming with a fight," Byers said. "They know I'm coming with the experience of having been there before. They know, and I know it, too, and I want to shine."
Byers became an eight-time national champion with an April victory over Brandon Rupp in the finals of the 2009 U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas. He also defeated Rupp in the finals of the 2009 U.S. World Team Trials in June at Council Bluffs.
His impressive international season included victories at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, the Grand Prix of Slovenia, the New York Athletic Club International and the Vantaa Cup in Finland. He added silver medals at the Heydar Aliyev FILA Golden Grand Prix final in Azerbaijan and the Granma Cup in Cuba.
"I just feel like I've got so much more to do, and maybe that's that window closing that people are talking about," Byers said. "I could be running out of time. I know in wrestling eventually there's a changing of the guard. There's always some new wild-card that will come up.
"Then there's always a guy that just won't let it go and he's going to step up and get it done. Apparently I've got to be that guy now because of my age, so I'm just going to focus on what I do best and make it keep working.
"I'm representing the Army and a lot of people are counting on me. I've got to get it done."
(Tim Hipps writes for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)