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U.S. Olympic Team Trials Session 6 Quotes

5/23/2004 John Fuller/TheMat.com


Sammie Henson – 55 kg – Highland Mills, N.Y. – Sunkist Kids

On the future:

“I don’t know if I can handle another four years of this. I’m going to go back to St. Louis this week and see what happens next.”

On Abas:

“He is a great wrestler. He needs to be better at being on top but he’s great on his feet.”

Stephen Abas – 55 kg – Fresno, Calif. - Sunkist Kids

On being an Olympian:

“This is the only thing I’ve worked for. It’s a dream come true. I am going for the gold now. I’m focusing on the medal.”

On Henson:

“I knew being tough on bottom would be the key to winning.”

Eric Guerrero – 60 kg – Stillwater, Okla. – Gator WC

On the Trials:

“I can’t stand sitting around for two days. This morning I didn’t wrestle as well because I’d been sitting around but now I had clean shots and it felt good.”

“I practiced hard to have a good match and it materialized. I don’t try to wrestle a particular style. I just be in the moment.”

On Zadick:

“I have a lot of respect for the whole Zadick family. Mike will have a great career down the road.”

On Olympics:

“The biggest task lies ahead. This is just a stepping-stone. The gold has been a goal since I was a kid.”

Jamill Kelly – 66 kg – Stillwater, Okla. – Gator WC

On Lawrence:

“He’s tough. He’s not one I thought would come out of the challenge tournament. I had two other guys on my team make it so I didn’t want to be the one who didn’t make it. I didn’t scout him because I didn’t think he’d be there.”

On similarities with Lawrence:

“It’s kind of eerie. We both were underdogs and made it through the tournament.”

On motivation:

“John Smith told me you’re going to be a 2004 Olympian. I had to stay calm and he helped me do that.”

On the Olympics:

”I decided to work really hard and make 2004 my year. I have a lot of work to do but I’m going to go out and do the best I can.”

Joe Williams – 74 kg - Iowa City, Iowa – Sunkist Kids

On Heskett’s early scoring:

“His two points concerned me early in the match. They gave him two and I had to wrestle through it. I can’t afford to give up points like that.”

“I feel a little relieved. I look back on my training now and see the positives. I’m looking forward to training for the Olympics. I want to go for a run right now.”

“Making the Olympic team is great but it’s the next tournament that’s important. Anything but gold is a discredit to me and my training.”

On Heskett:

“Heskett’s tough. He’s proved himself as a contender and will be tough. The score doesn’t say how close the match is.”

On deceased brother Steve:

“I know Steve is looking down and smiling but he’s also pushing me forward.”

“I want to relax and take a little time off and spend some time with my family. I’ll wrestle around with my son. Hopefully he’ll let me win a few matches.”

On women’s wrestling:

“Some of the girls have been an inspiration to me. Steiner is a great coach and they are doing a great job.”

Cael Sanderson – 84 kg – Ames, Iowa – Sunkist Kids

“In a match like that. I was happy to get four points in a match like that.”

On Fullhart:

“He’s very physical and that steps up the level. It’s more of a fight than a wrestling match.”

On pressure:

“I learned a lot going through college. I stayed focused and learned to do what it takes ro wrestle well.”

On making Olympics on his first try:

“You can see how easy it is to get close and not make it so it feels good. Olympics are once in a lifetime. The Olympics are a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to give it my best shot. It’s crazy because I’ve been dreaming about it for years and years. ”

On Heber City:

“It’s a small community and it’s well known for wrestling so this must be exciting for them.”

“[Going forward] I need to sharpen up. Everyone knows I shoot a lot so I’m going to have to work hard.”

On friendship with Kyle Maynard:

“It’s incredible what he’s done. He’s quite a story and is very inspiring.”

Daniel Cormier – 96 kg – Stillwater, Okla. – Gator WC

On what the Olympics mean:

“It means so much to me with everything that I have been though over the last three years. John has been with me through it all and believed in me to make this far. This is what it is all about.”

On resting the first two days:

“I didn’t know how much of an advantage sitting out these two days was going to be, but it was huge. I had time to raise my weight and get stronger while he (Tim Hartung) wrestled for two days. I think he was a little banged up after the two days, so it was easier than I thought it would be.”

On not winning an NCAA title:

“NCAA titles are good, but we are at the highest level of wrestling here and college guys aren’t going to come in here and beat us. This is the top level. I have my national championships and now I’m going to the Olympics. These are my titles.”

Kerry McCoy – 120 kg – Bethlehem, Pa. – New York AC

“[Matches with Thompson] are never easy. Every time we wrestle, it’s tough. But I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for him. He’s the guy who has always pushed me.”

On making the Olympic team for the second time:

“Being able to come back through adversity was really special. Now I have a chance to win gold.”

On immediately going into stands to his mother:

“My mother is a big part of this and a very special woman and I had to thank her.”

On beating Taymazov:

“I watched the tape a few times and picked up some mistakes I made. I have to wrestle a mistake free match.”

“After Sydney, I wanted to be done. But now I want to make up for it. If I win now no one will ask about Sydney.”


Dennis Hall – 55 kg – Plover, Wisc. – Sunkist Kids

On the match:

“I took a calculated risk when I was down tow and got him in front head lock and has able to turn that into three points, but then made a bone head mistake and allowed him to tie it up.

“Overtime just kept going on and on. We were both working hard. Finally, I was able to slide by to reach around and chase him and land on top. I wasn’t sure if they were going to give it to me (the point), but my coaches said they did and I though thank goodness it’s over.”

On what he said to Paulson:

“I said, ‘I love ya man. I’m sorry it had to end this way. Be proud and keep your head up.’ This very easily could have ended the other way.”

On coming down in weight:

“I came down to 121 because my size just wasn’t big enough at 132 anymore. I went overseas and found my body couldn’t handle being at that weight and I needed to drop. I feel like I can win a gold medal at this size. If I didn’t think I could win the gold medal then I wouldn’t have dropped.”

On the length of the match:

“It was the hardest match I’ve ever wrestled. I’ve never had to wrestle 16 minutes with someone constantly in my face. It was a fight. We both wanted the same thing and were going to do whatever it took to get it.”

Jim Gruenwald – 60 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – Sunkist Kids

First thoughts on going to Athens:

“I’m very happy. Now it is time to get ready for Athens and do there what I didn’t do in Sydney and that’s win the gold.”

“I’m really relieved. This is it after this, so if I didn’t win this I wouldn’t have a shot at my goal of winning the gold. If I can’t win the gold this year then I will have to move on. I will be disappointed, but I have important things (wife and kids) to move on to after wrestling.”

On his comeback:

“I always told myself, that if I ever received a serious injury that I would retire. After the way it happened though, I couldn’t. I had him (Armen Nazarian) beat at the World’s, but injured my shoulder toward the end of the match. I wanted another shot at him, so I trained hard and recovered in five-and-a-half months in time for nationals, which was a minor miracle. Now, I’ve gotten through this and hopefully I will have a chance to meet him again in the Olympics.”

Oscar Wood – 66 kg – Fountain, Colo. – U.S. Army

On pin in first match:

“In college, I was a pinner but a lot of times you can’t catch people. What pinned him was how hard he fought the front head lock.”

“I felt an adrenaline rush. It was amazing when I knew I was going to win.”

On Bracken:

“Kevin is a world champ and he fought hard.”

On the past two days:

“I watched my teammates but left when I thought I was sitting around too much. The position I put myself in at nationals was great.”

Keith Sieracki – 74 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – U.S. Army

On the match:

“It was a tough match. Darryl (Christian) is a legitimate competitor. Some people thought that class was a little weak, but either us could represent the our country at the Olympics and compete with the best in the world.”

On not receiving an automatic berth:

“It’s hard to think that I’m not going to get the chance to compete in Athens. I’ve won two trials and no Olympics. It feels good to win this but there just wasn’t any hype this week, it’s like winning nationals.

“Winning this would have meant the world if my brother would have won at 84 kg. That was the plan, I drop down to 74 kilos and he makes the Olympics. We won’t wrestle each other.”

On the potential of receiving a wild card:

“With everything going on in the world, the security threat in Athens, people missing weight and skin check, I think my chances are pretty good that I will be there. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Brad Vering – 84 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – New York AC

On being an Olympian:

“It sounds great and it’s an awesome feeling to be an Olympian. I said it to myself in high school that I could be an Olympian. It just proves that with hard work and surrounding your self with right people anything is possible. I wanted to make this happen and it’s a dream come true.”

On the next step:

“This is just a stepping stone. I’m not sure what people are going to expect of me at the Olympics, but I expect big things out of myself. It doesn’t matter what others think, I know that I can succeed in Athens.”

Garrett Lowney – 96 kg – Freedom, Wis. – Minnesota Storm

“I’ve been here before and I knew what it was like and I wanted to get back. It’s good to come back from retirement to compete from my country.”

“When you’re out of the game and think you’re done, the thrill of the fight is what is keeping me going.”

On his state of mind:

“You can’t come in here and be surprised to win. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d be here.”

Rulon Gardner – 120 kg – Cascade, Colo. – Sunkist Kids

Opening statement:

“Last two months I thought it was virtually impossible for me to be sitting here. It is truly a miracle for me to be sitting here.”

Difference in you for this match and nationals

“Knowing the strength that Byers has and how her sits around and waits for a weakness is really scary. Having the confidence that I could re-bumble him is what I didn’t have at nationals”

What was the said between you and Byers before the first match?

“Asked to do god’s prayer before we wrestled. I know he is a very religious guy as well as myself and I think it was just paying homage to our religious backgrounds”

What made the difference for the win here?

“Confidence in my hand. The confidence to re-dig inside and not worry about injury with my hand.”

What drives you?

The good lord is the key component and having my family here to support me. That is what drives me the most.”

When will this win hit you?

“It truly won’t hit me till tomorrow. After watching others put there shoes on the mat for retirement I knew I was not going to put my shoes on the mat today. I have more matches in me.”

Loss at worlds

“Not really I walked into the match with the Russian thinking he was just ok and it grounded me finding out how good he was. It really kicked me in the butt to get training again and make it back into international competition.”

Thought process before the match

“I probably have five matches in me career left and I will give everything I have to those five matches”

How you train

“You have to come to practice everyday ready to practice ready to practice and ready to go to war because it is a war.”

First thoughts after the match

“First don’t hurt yourself and respect the crowd. I really respect the fact that all these fans that drove thousands of miles to support us.”

The rivalry between you and Byers

Byers and I have been battling since 1996. The small matches mean more because you can’t wear the USA warm-up unless you win these matches so for me this is the most important match.”

Dremiel Byers – 120 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – U.S. Army

On mindset in second match:

“Do or die. I really trained hard coming in.”

On his prayer with Gardner before first match:

“It’s important for people to see we put God first. He and I both wanted to show everyone we pray.”

On his training with Gardner:

“ I will be there to train with him all the time – he can put an extra hour into the day if he needs to. It’s us against them now. We’ll do anything to get our flag raised and hear our anthem play.”

On the retirement of his teammates:

“[Seeing them retire] broke me down. They’ve been my family and brothers. I’m not ready to see them go. I know they have to go on to bigger and better things but I hate to see them go.”


Patricia Miranda – 48 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – Dave Schultz WC

Opening statement

“Very excited about the tournament and upcoming Olympics”

Being recognized as a female wrestler

“Competing in high school and college I never thought of myself as a female. In fact, I took down all the mirrors so not to use it as an excuse of why I didn’t wrestle well. However, after meeting other women who train as hard and are as dedicated to the sport as I am I do like to be recognized as a female.”

What is left to work on with your wrestling?

“The mental side of the sport is my biggest obstacle left to tackle in my wrestling. I have worked on letting my self be mentally prepared to wrestle.”

Her family being here in Indy

“I was very very proud to have my family here especially my father. Wrestling has brought my family closer together as we cry together and laugh together.”

First thought after winning tonight

“First thought was step one. Happiness for winning the tournament but now I have been given a large responsibility and I want to carry the weight and represent my country the best I can.”

What does Athens mean to you after your defeat in New York?

“Athens is my redemption from New York. Athens is my shot to be better.”

How do you feel about this tournament?

“Good thing about trials you leave the decision up to the Athletes and it is decided by the athletes on the mats.”

Thoughts on Tina-Tela match

“Tina is a very talented athlete. Tina had so much of a lead but Tela is very talented on top.”

Thoughts on first match

“I was not too focused on the outcome and was happy with the fact that I could mentally stay calm with the score being so close. They were very different matched but I was happy with both.”

When did the Olympics become a goal?

“Not raised as an athlete. I don’t know many other Olympic athletes. In fact, the Olympics never entered my mind till I was finishing college.”

Tela O’Donnell – 55 kg – Colorado Springs, Colo. – Dave Schultz Wrestling Club

On the match:

“It was a touch match. Tina (George) is just so strong. She really came out strong as if she had nothing to lose. How could you blame her? If I was in her position I would have come out the same way.”

On following behind:

“I didn’t panic. I remember thinking after the first round, ‘If she (Tina George) can get up 6-1, then I can score six points as well in the second round.’ It just happened that I was able to get the fall.”

On being an Olympian:

“I’m very excited right now. When I was little I dreamed of being an Olympian in ice-skating or something like that even though I’ve never ice-skated. I kind of forgot about that dream (of being and Olympian) though until I started wrestling and now here I am.”

Sara McMann – Colorado Springs, Colo. – Sunkist Kids

“I was trying to be so composed and downplay the match before I came in but now I can’t even describe the feeling.”

On Marano not making weight:

“I was shocked. You have to expect the unexpected. You train for everybody. Of all the things I expected, I never planned for someone not making weight.”

On her confidence:

“Throughout the tournament, anyone who takes someone lightly lost. I decided I’m going to take making weight seriously and every opponent seriously.”

“I never even thought of being an Olympian as a kid. At Pan-Am games, it was amazing to think that I contributed to the medal count of our country.”

Toccara Montgomery – 72 kg – Cleveland, Ohio – New York Athletic Club

On having Marano come up in weight class:

“It didn’t affect me at all. It was a little surprising though because she had the momentum going at 63 kg, but it didn’t work out for her. That’s wrestling though, anything can happen. There were a lot of tough competitors in this weight class, so I couldn’t just focus on Kristie.”

On wrestling from behind:

Once I fell behind (in the morning match), I knew I had to wrestle harder and turn it around. Once I did that it was a huge confidence boost so I knew I could and needed to put her away in the second match.”

On the future:

“The Olympics will probably be a one-time thing for me. I have one year left in college and after I graduate I want to focus on my teaching and possibly coaching. So this will be it, my only shot at the gold in the Olympics.”

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