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Cormier and Morrison weigh in for Special Wrestle-off for U.S. World and Pan American Games Freestyle Teams at 96 kg/211.5 pounds in Fargo, N.D., July 25 7/24/2003 Gary Abbott/USA Wrestling

2003 U.S. Nationals Champion Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) and 2003 World Team Trials champion Dean Morrison (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) have weighed in for their Special Wrestle-off at 96 kg/211.5 pounds, which will be held in Fargo, N.D., Friday, July 25.

The competition will be held alongside the ASICS Junior and Cadet National Championships, which is in the FargoDome on the campus of North Dakota State Univ.

It will be a best-of-three series. The winner of the series will represent the United States at the 2003 World Championships of Freestyle Wrestling in New York City, September 12-14, as well as at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 6-8.

The session times for the Special Wrestle-off are at 8:50 a.m. Central Time for bout No. 1, and approximately 12:30 p.m. Central Time for bout No. 2. The third match, if needed, will be exactly one hour after the completion of match No. 2. THESE ARE DIFFERENT TIMES THAN PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED!!

USA Wrestling’s Executive Committee granted a delay of the World Team Trials Championship Series at 96 kg/211.5 pounds, after Cormier requested the delay. According to World Team Trials procedures, only the U.S. Nationals champion has the right to request a delay in the Championships Series.

Morrison assumed the No. 1 seed at the World Team Trials in Indianapolis, Ind., June 20-22, and won the event at the weight class, earning the right to face Cormier in the Special Wrestle-off. Morrison needed three matches to defeat 2002 World Team member Tim Hartung (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm). Morrison won the first match, 4-1 in overtime, then lost the second match 2-0 in overtime. In the third and deciding match, Morrison defeated Hartung, 3-2.

Both wrestlers are healthy and confident going into the match.

“I am feeling really good,” said Cormier. “I am ready to get on the mat. The delay has been a challenge. The rest of the team is already set. When you want to be on the team, it is tough, because everybody else is done. I am feeling healthy. The extra time to train helps your preparation.”

Cormier, who competed at the Junior Nationals when he was a young athlete in Louisiana, believes the Special Wrestle-off will be a good experience for the thousands of young athletes competing in Fargo this week.

“It is good for the kids to see some tough matches. There will be some tough battles,” said Cormier. “It is a good thing for kids to see competitive wrestling.”

Morrison is equally ready for his chance to make the USA team.

“Training is good; all is well,” said Morrison. “This has been a little bit different. I have only had to train for one person. It is a different kind of preparation. I’m looking forward to putting into play what I have been practicing to do.

As a native of Long Island, N.Y., Morrison is excited about the possibility of competing in a World Championships in his home town region.

“It is a big deal for me. It would be a big breakthrough. I have been working quite a few years to make a World Team. To have an opportunity to wrestle in New York City is a gift,” he said.

The Special Wrestle-off will be a rematch of the finals of the 2003 U.S. Nationals, which Cormier won by a 3-0 margin over Morrison. It was Cormier’s first U.S. Nationals freestyle title.

Cormier placed third at the World Team Trials in 2001 and 2002, earning a spot on Freestyle Team USA. He competed for Oklahoma State Univ., where he was a NCAA runner-up in 2001. Cormier was also a two-time NJCAA Junior College national champion for Colby CC. He was a three-time Louisiana state champion for Northside High School in Lafayette.

Morrison previously qualified for Freestyle Team USA in 1997, when he placed third at the World Team Trials at 187.25 pounds. His second place at the U.S. Nationals this year was his best career finish. Morrison was a 1994 NCAA champion for the Univ. of West Virginia. He attended Copaigue High School in New York.

Live-time play-by-play coverage of the Special Wrestle-off will be provided by TheMat.com (www.themat.com).

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