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Army Sweeps 2000 Wrestling Championships in Florida

By Kevin Gaddie
Special to American Forces Press Service

NAVAL AIR STATION WHITING FIELD, Fla., March 28, 2000 – Army grapplers snagged the Greco-Roman, freestyle and overall team titles here Mar. 17-18 to sweep the 2000 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships. The Marines placed second, trailed by the Air Force and the Navy.

Whiting Field's gymnasium was alive with rough-and-tumble, hand-to-hand action as the military's best wrestlers pitted their skills against each other over the grueling two-day period. Spectators from the local area and from across the country cheered them on.

"This is the No. 1 sporting event we've hosted since I've been here. We had a good turnout," said Capt. Wayne Nelms, installation commander. "It was great to be that up-close and personal to some world-class athletes. Some of the participants were NCAA champions, 1996 Olympic wrestling team members and, from what I gathered from the coaches, at least six of the participants will probably be members of the 2000 Olympic wrestling team."

The Whiting meet is one of several that military members compete in en route to the Olympic trials in Dallas later this year.

"I think it went great," said Army Greco-Roman coach Marc Fiore. "Greco started the tempo for us. Everyone wrestled great. We don't have one individual hero; the whole team's performance was fantastic. We don't get to wrestle team meets that often, it's usually individual, but this is a time we could do a team sport. With Greco, everybody worked hard as a team and that's why the results went the way they did."

"The guys wrestled excellent, pretty much mistake-free matches the whole afternoon," said Army freestyle coach Lawrence Jackson. "Couldn't ask for anything better."

"I felt pretty good coming into the last match -- won my first two matches with two falls," said Spc. Michael Vanarsdale of Fort Carson, Colo., who wrestled at 97 kilos. Originally from Waterloo, Iowa, he is a national high school champion and an NCAA Iowa state champion.

"I knew we had the team title locked up, but I was just making sure I didn't get hurt, so I could go back and train, injury-free,” Vanarsdale added. “Towards the end of the match though, I thought to myself, 'You know what, I'm going to score some points.' So I just went for it, and ended up winning by points."

The Navy earned one silver and two bronze Greco-Roman medals and five bronzes in freestyle. All-Navy wrestling coach Rob Hermann went into the matches with the understanding that his was the most inexperienced of the teams hitting the mats.

"We had some big guns in Greco-Roman," he said. "We wrestled every match up to our capability. You've got to win those one-point matches and overtime matches; that's what makes a champion. In freestyle, we had two or three guys that were in every match and could have won the title.

"Ours is a young team," Hermann continued. "The guys we competed against are top-notch wrestlers and are at the level we want to be at. In order to get there, you've got to wrestle them. I think it was a good learning experience for our athletes and I think they're going to build from it."

The Marines took home one gold and one silver in freestyle events, and also three Greco-Roman gold medals that give theirwinners entrée to the Olympic trials. Not a bad day overall, according to head coach Jay Antonelli.

"Our results are nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "The guys did everything I asked them and wrestled to their abilities. We knew the Army had a really good freestyle team, but I thought we wrestled well. They're just better than us. We did everything we could do, but we came up short. We were hoping for a couple of breaks here and there, and we didn't get them, and all that added up against us. I still feel that the Marines have the stronger Greco-Roman team, but again, we didn't get the breaks we needed."

The Air Force fought hard right down to the last match, but ended up placing third in Greco-Roman.

"The last match with the Marines was an absolute brawl," said Air Force head coach Rich Estrella. "With the Army, we were one match behind in freestyle, and that's hard to make up in an event such as this. But we know we're right there. We know that we're one of the top clubs in the country. In this type of tournament, it's just a fine hair's difference between each of the programs, and it gets emphasized in this type of environment where there are dual-meet formats.

"Most of our emphasis was on Greco-Roman," Estrella continued. "Our people were going after it really hard, so from that standpoint I was proud of my guys. They didn't want to give up any points. Obviously, no one wants to lose, but even more so in a tournament like this. I'm excited about the way they competed."

Senior Airman Corey Farkas from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., wrestled at 130 kilos and took silver medals in both Greco-Roman and freestyle.

"I beat Master Sgt. Greg Gibson (Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.) in the first round, which is actually an accomplishment because he's known as a legend," Farkas said. "Spc. Dremiel Byers (Fort Carson), is the No. 1 guy right now in Greco-Roman. I'm ranked five or six, and I beat him at the armed forces championships last year, but he went on to win the national title. Hopefully, it will be the other way around this year -- he beat me, but hopefully I'll win the national title. It will be an even trade."

"The intensity level here with the interservice rivalries makes for a fantastic competition," said Jim McCord, a veteran referee of 15 years. "Next to the U.S. Open, this is by far the best competition we see all year here in the States. Great competition, great rivalries. It's a real pleasure to have a chance to work it."

 2000 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship Team Standings

Overall

Place, Team, Points

1st Army, 12

2nd Marine Corps, 8

3rd Air Force, 4

4th Navy, 0

Greco-Roman

Place, Team, Points

1st Army, 6

2nd Marine Corps, 4

3rd Air Force, 2

4th Navy, 0

Freestyle

Place, Team, Points

1st Army, 6

2nd Marine Corps, 4

3rd Air Force, 2

4th Navy, 0

Individual Standings

Greco-Roman

Place, Wrestler

54-kilogram

1st Senior Airman Jeffery Cervone, Peterson Air Force Base,

Colo.

2nd Sgt. Justin Weber, Fort Carson, Colo.

58-kilogram

1st Spc. Mujahhid Maynard, Fort Carson

2nd Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Mays, USS John F.

Kennedy

63-kilogram

1st Sgt. Glenn Nieradka, Fort Carson

2nd Sgt. James Shillow, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

69-kilogram

1st Staff Sgt. Shon Lewis, Fort Carson

2nd Sgt. Marcel Cooper, MCB Quantico

76-kilogram

1st Cpl. Jacob Clark, MCB Quantico

2nd Sgt. Keith Wilson, Fort Carson

85-kilogram

1st Senior Airman Aaron Sieracki, Peterson AFB

2nd LCpl. Ken Owens, MCB Quantico

97-kilogram

1st Capt. Joseph Hicks, MCB Quantico

2nd Pfc. Josh Hall, Fort Carson

130-kilogram

1st Pfc. Dremiel Byers, Fort Carson

2nd Senior Airman Corey Farkas, Peterson AFB

Individual Standings

Freestyle

Place, Wrestler

54-kilogram

1st Spc. Eric Albarracin, Fort Carson

2nd Cpl. Pacual Arriaga, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton,

Calif.

58-kilogram

1st Spc. Jason Kutz, Fort Carson

2nd Sgt. Duaine Martin, MCBQuantico

63-kilogram

1st Spc. Jeff Bedard, Fort Carson

2nd Sgt. James Shillow, MCB Quantico

69-kilogram

1st Sgt. Brian Van Hoven, MCB Quantico

2nd Senior Airman Robin Watkins, Dyess Air Force Base,

Texas

76-kilogram

1st Capt. Mark Marciniack, Fort Carson

2nd Senior Airman Corey Davis, Buechel Air Base, Germany

85-kilogram

1st Spc. Orlando Rosa, Fort Hood, Texas

2nd Cpl. Jacob Clark, MCB Quantico

97-kilogram

1st Spc. Michael Vanarsdale, Fort Carson

2nd Cpl. Albert Sankey, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar,

CA

130-kilogram

1st Spc. Rex Holman, Fort Carson

2nd Senior Airman Corey Farkas, Peterson AFB

Contact Author


Click photo for screen-resolution imageHead over heels, Senior Airman Jeffery Cervone of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., throws Staff Sgt. David Laymon of Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., in a 54-kilogram Greco-Roman wrestling match. Cervone defeated Laymon, 8-2, March 17 and went on to win his weight class in the 2000 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. Photo by Harve Shiplett.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePetty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Waugh (on top), air traffic controller from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., wrestles Sgt. Justin Weber of Fort Carson, Colo., in a 54-kilogram-class Greco-Roman wrestling match at the 2000 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. Weber recovered and defeated Waugh, 4-0, March 17. Photo by Lt. j.g. Sky Road Webb.  
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