LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After winning the Challenge Tournament with three narrow decisions, 2000 Clearfield Area High School graduate Timothy Taylor took U.S. Army teammate and heavily favored Dremiel Byers to the three-match limit in the heavyweight finals of the U.S Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling Team Trials in the Thomas & Mack Center Sunday.
Byers claimed the U.S. Olympic Team spot at 120 kilograms/264.5 pounds with a 4-0, 5-0 victory in the deciding bout of the best-of-three Championship Series.
\”Taylor, who owns a previous win over Byers, gave the past World Champ fits,\” InterMatwrestle.com writer Jason Bryant described the duel between the Army\’s World Class Athletic Program wrestlers who train together daily and have become very close friends.
Byers, a 2002 World champion and 2007 World bronze medalist, had won the first match 1-1, 4-0, but Taylor forced the extra bout with a 2-5, 2-1, 1-1 win in the second match.
The determined Byers proved too much for Taylor in the third match, ending it with a suplay in the second period. The high amplitude throw was worth five points.
\”Now I can say that Taylor is pretty good at being a wall when he wants to,\” Byers said in a post-match interview that was posted on TheMat.com.
\”I can be in shape now, I am in shape, and I have to fall back on more of that old stuff.
\”You know, I am training with Taylor every day. I don\’t have any tricks with him. He knows what I\’m going to do every time.\”
The two have forged a special relationship during their many hours of working out together at the WCAP unit in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“That’s my brother from another mother,\” Byers said. \”We live that every day with our unit. We really are family.
\”If you look around at Nationals or you look into it, we’re the only actual team. The other guys are clubs that live all over the country and come together for one event. We’re in there pounding it out every day with each other.\”
The Army staff sergeant finished second to rival and friend Rulon Gardner at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and was his training partner at the 2004 Olympic Games. Gardner, who earned Olympic gold in 2000, settled for the bronze medal in 2004.
Gardner, serving as the color analyst for the MSNBC coverage of the Olympic Trials, hugged Byers on center mat before conducting the post-match television interview.
While Byers advanced directly to the Championship Series as a 2007 World bronze medalist, Taylor had to survive three rugged tests in the Challenge Tournament.
The No. 2 seed registered 1-1, 1-1 victories of the seventh seed Mark Simmonds (U.S. Navy) of Minneapolis, Minn., and sixth seed Cole Conrad (Minnesota Storm) of Minneapolis. Conrad, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Minnesota, switched from freestyle to Greco-Roman just eight months ago.
In Greco-Roman, ties go to the wrestler scoring the last point.
Taylor, who qualified for the tourney by placing third at the U.S. Nationals, then beat top seed Russ Davie (New York Athletic Club) 3-0, 0-3, 1-1 in the Challenge Tournament finals.
Davie, who practices at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, was considered Byers\’ chief rival after being runner-up to him in the U.S. Nationals in April.
Davie won the title at the 2007 U.S. Nationals after Taylor upset Byers in the semifinals.
The other Greco-Roman wrestlers will be on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in Beijing, China, in August are Spenser Mango (U.S. Olympic Education Center/Gator Wrestling Club) of St. Louis, Mo., at 55 kg/121 pounds, high school phenom Jake Deitchler (Minnesota Storm) of New Ramsey, Minn., at 66 kg/145.5 pounds, T.C. Dantzler (Gator WC) of Colorado Springs at 74 kg/163 pounds, Brad Vering (New York AC) of Colorado Springs at 84 kg/185 pounds and Andy Wheeler (Gator WC) of Colorado Springs at 96 kg/211.5 pounds.
Joe Betterman (USOEC/New York AC) of Chicago, Ill., won at 60 kg/132 pounds, but the United States isn\’t qualifed for the 2008 Olympic games at that weight.
Deitchler, an 18-year-old University of Minnesota recruit, is the first schoolboy to make a U.S. Olympic wrestling team since 1976, when Mike Farina of Illinois qualified in Greco-Roman.
Jimmy Carr of Erie, Pa., was the first high school wrestler to accomplish that feat, qualifying for the 1972 U.S. Olympic freestyle team after his sophomore year at Erie East. He went on to become PIAA champion at 119 pounds in 1973.