Marines

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Photo by Jamie Cameron

Marines host Armed Forces Wrestling Championship, claim silver

24 Mar 2006 | Mr. Jamie Cameron

Wrestlers from the U.S. Army team overcame the Marine Corps’ home field advantage aboard Camp Lejeune to win both the Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines in the 2006 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship.

Army won its fifth-straight Armed Forces wrestling title by holding off a hard-charging Marine Corps squad that was anxious to put forth a strong showing at the station it will become its home base starting next spring. The home team enjoyed a boisterous cheering section from fellow Marines and a gold medal performance in the 96-kilogram freestyle final from Sgt. Jacob Clark who is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy wrestlers finished third and fourth respectively.
USMC Maj. Ken Berger (ret.) has served as the master of ceremonies at the Armed Forces Wrestling Championship for several years and played a vital role in keeping the enthusiastic crowd well-informed of the action on the mats and the pedigrees many of the warrior-athletes brought with them.

“This is such a competitive thing for these guys,” he said. “The work together in unison on the battlefield, but when they get on the mat, they want to beat each other’s brains in. It’s just like you were when you competed against your best friends – you wanted to beat them more than anything.”

Berger ought to know what he is talking about. The broad-shouldered emcee wrestled for three years on the All-Marine Corps wrestling team during the early 1970s at 125 pounds.
“It’s one of those sports that gets in your blood,” he said. “My role is for those fans who walk in and see a Greco-Roman match going on with two guys pushing each other around. They have no idea what’s going on, but I can tell them from the perspective of someone who knows what the wrestlers are doing and how they are feeling.”

No one knows Greco-Roman wrestling, the oldest recognized version of the ancient sport, than the Army team that won six gold medals out of the seven weight class competitions and no Army athlete comes with bigger credentials than Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers, duty stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. Byers won the Greco-Roman 120-Kg weight class by going undefeated in the March 23 competition – an all too familiar result for the man who some consider as Armed Forces wrestling royalty.

Byers was the 1993 high school state champion in his home state of North Carolina, a five-time national champion and was crowned world champion in his class in 2002. The nearly immovable big man has set his sights on a medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

“I will never say that I have reached my pinnacle,” Byers said. “I promised my grandfather that I’d get that gold medal. He passed away last year and so that’s my goal. It’s not a beautiful Olympic dream – it’s an obsession and I won’t rest until I get it.”

In spite of coming up a little short against the powerful Army team, Maj. Dan Hicks, head coach of the Marine Corps squad, was pleased with the effort he got from his grapplers.

“”I couldn’t be more pleased with my guys,” said Hicks. “We wrestled tough and lost a couple of tight matches. All of my guys wrestled well.”

Hicks was obviously happy with the prospect of bringing the team to Camp Lejeune for good next spring, especially when he looked up into the stands at Goettge Memorial Field House and saw the dedicated Marine Corps cheering section in spite of the two-day competition taking place during duty hours.

“We can’t wait to move to Camp Lejeune,” he said. “We love it down here. This is our house now.”

The steady support helped USMC Cpl. Steven Forrest, MCB Camp Lejeune, achieve a silver medal at 74-Kg in the freestyle competition Friday.

“I have a lot of friends here and that keeps the adrenaline level up,” said the first-year Marine Corps team member. “It’s a great experience to be here, especially since I just got back from Iraq. Nothing is like the tight-knit feeling you get with your fellow Marines over there, but this is the next best thing.”

If a strong feeling of camaraderie between the service branches and the team members from across the nation and the world is the purpose of Armed Forces competition, organizers of the 2006 Wrestling Championship can consider this year’s event a success.

2006 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship results:
Freestyle competition –
55-Kg:
Gold medal, Capt. Eric Albarracin, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, SrA Jared Moreland, USAF, Cannon AFB, N.M.

60-Kg:
Gold medal, Spc. Joshua Habeck, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Lance Cpl. Anthony Zender, USMC, 29 Palms, Calif.

66-Kg:
Gold medal, Spc. Aaron Holker, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Capt. Ryan Montanez, USAF, Pope AFB, N.C.

74-Kg:
Gold medal, Lt. Phillip Simpson, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Cpl. Steven Forrest, USMC, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

84-Kg:
Gold medal, Sgt. Kevin Ahearn, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Cpl. Ryan Cunningham, USMC, Quantico, Va.

96-Kg:
Gold medal, Sgt. Jacob Clark, USMC, Okinawa, Japan.
Silver medal, Spc. Anton Talamantes, USA, Fort Lewis, Wash.

120-Kg:
Gold medal, Spc. Timothy Taylor, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Lance Cpl. David Arendt, USMC, Marine Barracks 8th & I, D.C.

Team freestyle results –
USA, 6
USMC, 4
USAF, 2
USN, 0


2006 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship results:
Greco-Roman competition –
55-Kg:
Gold medal, Pfc. Jermaine Hodge, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, SrA Jared Moreland, USAF, Cannon AFB, N.M.

60-Kg:
Gold medal, Staff Sgt. James Johnston, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Sgt. Jeremy McLean, USMC, Quantico, Va.

66-Kg:
Gold medal, Sgt. Glenn Garrison, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Staff Sgt. James Shillow, USMC, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

74-Kg:
Gold medal, Lt. Grant Whitmer, USN, Mobile Security Squad 3.
Silver medal, Pfc. Brandon McNab, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.

84-Kg:
Gold medal, Spc. Aaron Sieracki, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Lance Cpl. Jeremy Pederson, USMC, Quantico, Va.

96-Kg:
Gold medal, Capt. Phillip Johnston, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Sgt. Jacob Clark, USMC, Okinawa, Japan.

120-Kg:
Gold medal, Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers, USA, Fort Carson, Colo.
Silver medal, Capt. Frank Workman, USMC, Quantico, Va.

Team Greco-Roman results –
USA, 6
USMC, 4
USAF, 2
USN, 0