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Army Narrowly Defeats Marines in Wrestling Championships

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 6, 1998 – Army wrestlers rallied to overcome a vehement onslaught by Marine matmen to capture first place in the hotly contested armed forces wrestling championships here, March 24-29.

Army wrestlers scored 11 points in the six-day competition. Marines came in second with nine points. The Air Force was third with four points. Navy matmen didn't score any points.

Billed as "Mountain Mayhem," competition was co-hosted by the Peterson Air Force Base Fitness and Sports Center and the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The tournament was conducted under the auspices of the Armed Forces Sports Committee.

"We've dominated several sports, wrestling being one of them," said Phil Cota, chief of the Army sports program. "We've won wrestling for the last nine years in a row.

"When they tallied all the scores, the Army outdistanced the Marines in total points," Cota said. "Normally, the Army is much stronger in Greco-Roman -- used to beat the Marines. But this year, the Marines came up with a real good team."

Second Lt. Daniel Palmer said Army grapplers, after claiming the freestyle championship 6-4 over their Marine rivals, scuffled to a 5-5 tie with the Marines in the Greco-Roman championship.

Army and Marine wrestlers smashed Air Force and Navy contenders en route to their head-to-head matches for the Greco-Roman crown and title of overall tournament champion, said Palmer, of the Peterson Air Force Base Public Affairs Office. "The intensity surged between the two warring services. They knew every point counted -- every takedown, exposure, reversal, escape and pin," he said. "The crowd cheered, and teammates lent their support as each match progressed."

Army teams are seasoned giants in all athletics -- their prowess has always been considered world-class, Palmer said. But, he added, the Marine spirit -- "always faithful" -- gave the leathernecks the ability to become a rising titan.

"The Army seemed to reign supreme late in the match with Miguel Spencer's easy victory over Marine Pat Owens, followed by Army's Kenneth Owens pinning Marine William Carr," Palmer said. "The Marines answered with Dan Hicks pinning Dominic Black, which turned the tide."

Palmer said that led to "the true clash of the titans to decide the outcome of the Greco-Roman championship" -- the heavyweights, Army's Jason Lowery and Marine Olympic silver medalist Greg Gibson.

"Gibson jumped out to an early lead with a quick five points in the first minute," Palmer said. "The crowd roared for their respective gladiator, but Gibson, the old man at 44, continued his onslaught with a four-point throw."

Gibson won a gold medal, his 22nd in armed forces wrestling competitions.

"You could sense the Marines knew they had the championship in hand," Palmer said. "But it wasn't enough to claim the overall championship."

"The Greco-Roman came down to the last two matches for the Marines -- they had to win by not allowing the Army to get any points," Air Force Reserve Maj. Suba Saty of the Armed Forces Sports Office. "They tied in the head-to-head, but the Marines had 64 team points while the Army garnered 59. When all the points for all the wrestlers were added, though, the Army edged out the Marines 11 to 9 in the overall competition."

Palmer said, in the midst of a disappointing point-less, last-place finish in the tournament, Navy Coach Rob Herman felt his young team "needed to witness for themselves the great level of competition necessary to win this tournament. When competing, they must also realize that they are representing something much greater than themselves."

"We hadn't beat the Army in seven years. When I took over the wrestling program last September, I told my Marines my No. 1 goal was to beat Army -- sort of like the Army-Navy football rivalry," said Marine wrestling coach Capt. Jay Antonelli, himself a four-time all-American wrestler.

"When it came to crunch time at the end, my Marines -- the big guys -- responded," Antonelli said. "The key all year was we believed we could do it. The Army is so big and the Marines so small, it was David vs. Goliath, but my Marines came through."

1998 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships Winners

Greco-Roman Team Standings

1st Place - Marines-5 (64 Team Points)

2nd Place - Army-5 (59 Team Points)

3rd Place - Air Force-2 Points

4th Place - Navy-0 Points

Greco-Roman Medal Winners, March 28, 1998

Weight  Gold Medal

54 kg   Airman 1st Class Jeff Corvone    USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

58 kg   Sgt. Duaine Martin               USMC  Quantico, Va.

63 Kg   Spec. Glenn Nieradka             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

69 Kg   Sgt. Marcel Cooper               USMC  Quantico. Va.

76 Kg   Spec. Miguel Spencer             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

85 Kg   Airman 1st Class Aaron Sleracki  USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

97 Kg   First Lt. Dan Hicks              USMC  Quantico, Va.

125 Kg  Master Sgt. Greg Gibson          USMC  Quantico, Va.

Weight  Silver Medal

54 Kg   Spec. Anthony Gibbons            USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

58 Kg   Spec. David Nitradka             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

63 Kg   Airman 1st Class Paul Cagich     USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

69 Kg   Pfc. Herbert House               USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

76 Kg   Cpl. Patrick Owens               USMC  Camp Pendleton, N.C.

85 Kg   Sgt. Kenneth Owens               USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

97 Kg   Spec. Dominic Black              USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

125 Kg  Airman 1st Class Cory Farkas     USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

Freestyle Team Standings

First Place --  Army, 6 points

Second Place -- Marine Corps, 4 points

Third Place --  Air Force, 2 points

Fourth Place -- Navy, 0 points

Freestyle Medal Winners

Weight  Gold

54 Kg   Pfc. Justin Weber                USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

58 Kg   Sgt. Duaine Martin               USMC  Quantico, Va.

63 Kg   Sgt. Curt Onsted                 USMC  Camp Pendleton, N.C.

69 Kg   Sgt. Marcel Cooper               USMC  Quantico, Va.

76 Kg   Spec. Keith Sieracki             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

85 Kg   Senior Airman Jeffrey McCoy      USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

97 Kg   First Lt. Dan Hicks              USMC  Quantico, Va.

125 Kg  Spec. Dominic Black              USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

 

Weight  Silver

54 Kg   Lance Cpl. Timothy Mazzoechl     USMC  Quantico, Va.

58 Kg   Spec. David Nieradko             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

63 Kg   Airman 1st Class Paul Gagich     USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

69 Kg   Lt.j.g. Kurt Kyle                USN   USS Leftwich

76 Kg   Cpl. Patrick Owens               USMC  Camp Pendleton, N.C.

85 Kg   Lance Cpl. Alex Strobl           USMC  Camp Pendleton, N.C.

97 Kg   Spec. Jason Loukides             USA   Fort Carson, Colo.

125 Kg  Airman 1st Class Cory Farkas     USAF  Peterson AFB, Colo.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spec. Miguel Spencer tussles with Senior Airman Jeffrey McCoy in a freestyle match. McCoy won a freestyle gold medal. Spencer went on to garner a Greco-Roman gold medal. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex R. Lloyd  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spec. Glenn Nieradke mixes it up with Marine Sgt. Duaine Martin during the freestyle competition. Martin captured a gold medal and Nieradke took a silver. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex R. Lloyd  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Sgt. Marcel Cooper wrestles with Army Pfc. John Morrell in the freestyle competition. Cooper won a gold medal. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex R. Lloyd  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Airman 1st Class Aaron Sieracki takes down Marine Sgt. William Carr en route to striking gold in the Greco-Roman competition. Photo by Senior Airman Michael Bowker   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. Kenneth Owens lifts and pins Marine Sgt. William Carr to win his match. Owens fought his way to a silver medal in the Greco- Roman competition. Photo by Senior Airman Michael Bowker  
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