Three Former Huskers Set to Compete at Olympic Trials
Lincoln, Neb. --- The Nebraska wrestling program will have three former Huskers competing at the 2012 Olympic Team Wrestling Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, on April 21-22 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The trio of former Huskers are wrestling for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team, which will compete at the summer Olympic Games in London.
Former Husker wrestlers Jordan Burroughs, Craig Brester and Rulon Gardner will all compete with hopes of nabbing a spot on the Olympic team. The event is set to begin on Saturday, April 21, at 9 a.m. (CST) and will consists of four sessions that run throughout the weekend. Session II will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, while Sessions III and IV are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, on Sunday.
Burroughs, the school's only two-time national champion after capturing the 165 pound title in 2011, automatically advances to the best-of-three freestyle championship series at 74 kg/163 pounds after winning the 2011 World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey, in September. Burroughs will wrestle in the finals in session II at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The 2011 Hodge Trophy award winner has not lost a match since ending his career at Nebraska and has captured titles at the U.S. Open, Beat the Streets Dual (USA vs. Russia), World Team Trials, Ukrainian Memorial International, World Championships, Pan American Games, Dave Schultz Memorial and the Cerro Pelado International.
Brester, who has been training in Lincoln, Neb., with Burroughs, will wrestle at the 96 kg/211.5 freestyle weight class. The former three-time All-American qualified for the team trials by winning the USA Wrestling Freestyle Olympic Trials qualifier in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December. The Howells, Neb., native is currently the Administrative Assistant for the Husker program after finishing his illustrious career at Nebraska as two-time NCAA Championship runner-up.
Making his return to the mat is Gardner, who hasn't wrestled competitively since the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Gardner, who captured gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, is hoping to qualify for the third Olympic Games of his career. Gardner was a part of the Husker squad for two seasons from 1991-93, and was an All-American in 1993 by finishing in fourth place at heavyweight. The 2001 World Champion hopes to qualify at the 120 kg/264 pounds Greco-Roman weight class.
The USA Wrestling team has not earned a qualifying spot at the Greco-Roman 96 kg/211.5 pound weight class for the Olympics, and former Husker Justin Ruiz is the last chance the U.S. has at qualifying that spot. Ruiz, a World bronze medalist in 2005, will wrestle in World Olympic Games Qualifiers in China and Finland for the chance to qualify. If he is able to qualify the weight class for the U.S., Ruiz will wrestle the winner of the Olympic Team Trials for the chance to make the team at a date and time to be determined later.
The Olympic Team Trials will air on the NBC Sports Network on a tape delay basis. Saturday's competition will air on Sunday, April 22 from 3-6 p.m. (CST), while Sunday's action will air from 2-5 p.m. on Monday, April 23.
2012 US Olympic Team Trial Participants (April 21-22, Iowa City, Iowa)
- Jordan Burroughs, Freestyle, 74 kg/163 pounds
- Craig Brester, Freestyle, 96 kg/211.5 pounds
- Rulon Gardner, Greco-Roman, 120 kg/264.5 pounds