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US fails to win medal in Greco-Roman wrestling

By David Ramsey, The Gazette –

LONDON — Justin Lester struggled with a virus, with the referees and, most of all, with a tough German wrestler named Frank Staebler.

Lester, a specialist at Fort Carson, Colo., failed to medal in Greco-Roman 145.5-pound competition Tuesday, concluding a frustrating three days for his team, which is based in Colorado Springs. The United States did not win a medal.

“We’ve got to get better as a country,” coach Steve Fraser said. “We have a lot of challenges in Greco, but we can’t make excuses. We’ve got to just get better.”

Lester endured a trying day. He had been suffering from a virus and said he was congested as he prepared for competition. Still, he said he began the competition expecting to win a gold.

He enjoyed a strong start. He was dominating in a 3-0, 3-1 victory over Japan’s Tsutomu Fujimara in the first round, and he won the first period 2-0 in his second-round match against Hungary’s Tamas Lorincz.

If Lester had won another period, he would have been well on his way to a medal.

Instead, Lorincz won the final two periods, 1-0, 2-0, sending Lester to the repechage, wrestling’s version of the losers’ bracket.

Staebler destroyed Lester. In the first period, Lester tried to push Staebler off the mat and came close to succeeding, but Staebler reversed the move at the last instant.

Lester never was the same. He was sweating profusely after the match, and seemed winded and beat by the early stages of the second period. Staebler won 5-0, 5-0. Lester called the match the “worst” he has ever wrestled.

“He wasn’t looking like himself,” Fraser said.

Lester declined to use his health as an excuse.

“I just wrestled stupid,” he said.

Lester was angered by the referees in his final two bouts.

“They were hitting us and yelling at us about things,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on. … I don’t know what’s going on with the refs here.”

Now, Fraser must regroup his team. The coach said he believed each of his wrestlers had a chance to medal in England.

Fraser is unsure of the future of 264.5-pound wrestler Dremiel Byers. Byers, who turns 38 in September, was unclear on Monday about his plans.

Fraser said he’s “not sure how much longer” Byers will compete.

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