Wood Gains Olympic Berth
May 24, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Former Oregon State wrestler Oscar Wood earned a place on the United States Olympic team when he won the Greco-Roman competition at 145.5 pounds in the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday at the RCA Dome. Wood, a two-time All-American during his OSU career from 1996-99, becomes the seventh wrestler from the Beaver program to become an Olympian.
Wood earned the Olympic berth by beating 2000 Olympian and five-time U.S. champion Kevin Bracken. In the best-of-three finals, Wood pinned Bracken in 1 minute, 47 seconds in their first match and then clinched the victory with a 3-0 win.
Wood, who now wrestles for the U.S. Army, was the top seed in the Olympic Trials; that earned him an automatic spot in the finals. Wood had placed second in the United States National Championships to Faruk Sahin, but shortly before the Olympic Trials Sahin agreed to a provisional suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant.
The last OSU wrestler to earn a place on the United States Olympic team had been current Beaver assistant coach Les Gutches on the Freestyle squad in 1996. Other Oregon State wrestlers to represent the United States in the Olympics were Robin Reed (1924, gold medal), Chet Newton (1924, silver medal), Ron Finley (1964), Jess Lewis (1968) and Henk Schenk (1968, 1972).
Wood came to Oregon State from Barlow High in Gresham, Ore. While at OSU, he placed third in the NCAA Championships at 142 pounds in 1998 and seventh at 134 pounds in 1996; he also won a pair of Pacific-10 Championships at 142 pounds. He finished his collegiate career with a 118-23-0 record and 51 pins; on OSU's all-time career leaders lists, he ranks 10th in wins, fifth in pins and 20th in winning percentage.
Another former Oregon State wrestler, Glenn Nieradka, advanced to the semifinals of the Greco-Roman tournament at 132 pounds, needing one more win to advance to the best-of-three final against the No. 1 seed. Nieradka, also wrestling for the U.S. Army, was beaten 3-0 by Joe Warren of the New York Athletic Club.
Nieradka had wrestled for OSU from 1991-92 and 1994-95, placing fourth in the NCAA in his final season and winning the Pac-10 title.