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Americans fall in G-R

By Jason Devaney
Posted Tuesday, August 12, 2008 8:09 PM ET

BEIJING (AP) - Jake Deitchler, a kid wrestling among men, had the period won, and maybe would have won the match shortly after that.

Then he made a rookie mistake, the kind no wrestler - no matter how young or old - can make at the Olympics.

Deitchler, at 18 the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestler in 32 years, lost both periods to former world runner-up Kanatbek Begaliev of Kyrgyzstan by 6-0 and 3-3 in their Greco-Roman 66-kilogram opening-round match Wednesday.

Also losing was 37-year-old T.C. Dantzler, who was trying to become the second-oldest American to medal in Olympic wrestling. He dropped a three-period match to European champion Peter Bacsi of Hungary by 5-1, 2-2 and 3-0 and was eliminated.

Deitchler qualified for the repechages that determine the two bronze medalists when Begaliev made the finals against Steeve Guenot of France. Only the wrestlers who lose to the finalists enter the bronze-medal round. Deitchler must win three matches to medal.

American Jake Deitchler (red) failed to advance to the final rounds of the 66-kilogram Greco-Roman class.
Getty Images
American Jake Deitchler (red) failed to advance to the final rounds of the 66-kilogram Greco-Roman class.

At 74 kg, surprise finalist Yongxiang Chang of China meets Manuchar Kvirkelia, who will try to give Georgia its first gold medal during a week in which Russian troops stormed through the country, uprooting 100,000 people.

Deitchler, wrestling his first senior international bout against a 2004 Olympian, was predictably tentative and Begaliev took advantage with a pair of 3-point scoring moves, a headlock and an arm spin in the first period.

But Deitchler, who lost every first period in the U.S. trials in June only to come back and win each match, was ahead 3-0 with seconds to spare in the second period. Rather than protecting the lead, he was looking to score when Begaliev reversed him for a point and got two more off a gut wrench, a move in which a wrestler clenches the other around the stomach and tosses him to the mat.

Begaliev won the period because of the second tiebreaker, the last to score.

"I was in the position I needed to be. I was right in there close, but stopped wrestling for a few moments," Deitchler said. "I wasn't worried because I get beat in the first period anyway. It really hurts bad. I did everything I could."

Winning might have seemed implausible given Deitchler's age and glaring lack of experience, but he looked fresher than Begaliev at the end of the second period and, in the trials, was usually at his best in the third.

Paulson knows Deitchler, from Anoka, Minn., should have protected his lead late in the second, especially with less than 10 seconds remaining.

"I don't know if it's a rookie mistake," said Brandon Paulson, a 1996 silver medalist and Deitchler's coach. "He's always thinking about scoring, maybe he was thinking about scoring again, I don't know."

For all of Deitchler's talent - he beat two former world medalists to get to Beijing - his lack of experience was evident. Deitchler did not talk immediately after his match.

"He hasn't been in that position enough. You can only teach so much and go over so much technique, it's just feel - and feeling every position 1,000 times," Paulson said. "When he gets on the mat more, he's going to learn that position."

Dantzler, an entrepreneur who owns a 29-emplyee employee screening software company, came back from his bad first period against one of the medal favorites to get the final two points and win the second period. But he tired while losing the third.

Dantzler had trouble cutting weight, which might have affected his performance.

In the first major upset Wednesday, world 74 kg champion Yavor Yanakiev of Bulgaria was upset 3-2, 1-1 by Chang as a pro-Chinese crowd chanted, waved flags and thumped yellow plastic sticks to encourage Chang.

A second upset followed as 2004 Olympic champion Farid Mansurov of Azerbaijan was beaten 3-0, 3-0 by Armen Vardanyan of Ukraine at 66 kg. Mansurov didn't lose a period while winning last year's world championship in his home country.

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