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TheMat.com interview with Glenn Nieradka, the 2002 U.S. Nationals men's freestyle champion at 60 kg



Glenn Nieradka of the U.S. Army won his second career U.S. Nationals title in April, with a victory at the new 132-pound weight division. He dropped down in weight from 138.75 pounds, where he was the U.S. Nationals champion in 1999. Nieradka had to beat a pair of Olympians, Dennis Hall and Jim Gruenwald, to claim the gold medal at this year's U.S. Nationals. Nieradka has still not reached one of his goals - competing for the United States at the World Championships or Olympics. TheMat.com spoke with Nieradka as he was getting prepared for the World Team Trials from his home in Colorado Springs. TheMat.com: You are competing at a new weight class this year. How difficult was the drop in weight and how is your body handling the new weight division? Nieradka: I had to make a decision, either to get bigger or smaller. I decided to go down. I had to change my lifestyle a little bit. I stopped drinking sodas, and watched my diet all the time. It wasn't that bad. It's been worth the cut, based upon the results so far. TheMat.com: In your new weight class, you had some top Olympic stars, such as Dennis Hall and Jim Gruenwald, and some other athletes you had not faced in recent years. How did you get prepared for this new challenge? Nieradka: I came close to retiring this year. I told myself I had to do this 100% and focus all my attention on the National Tournament. I'd see how it goes and make my decision from there. If I did well enough, I'd keep competing. I did well enough. TheMat.com: Tell me a little about your semifinal match with Dennis Hall. It was a bit controversial, with the officials going to the video. How did it play out? Nieradka: At the end of the first period, from the clinch, they had to go to the video. On the first attempt by Dennis, I never had my hands locked. I was on my back before they broke it and went to the video. They called a caution against me for not locking. Then, from that position, they gave the second point against me. In overtime, we went into the clinch and I was able to score off that. TheMat.com: You didn't just score, did you? You threw him in overtime. Nieradka: It was pretty nice. TheMat.com: And how about the finals match against Jim Gruenwald? Nieradka: When I first came down to 60 kg, the biggest thing I wanted to do was get my lungs bigger because he goes so hard. I was a little nervous about that. I was in decent shape, so I could hang with him. I was able to capitalize on his mistakes and score the three points I needed to win. TheMat.com: What has the Army World Class Athlete Program meant to your wrestling career and your life in general? Nieradka:It gives us an opportunity to train full time while continuing with our regular military duties. It gives you ample opportunity to be promoted within the program. You are not just stagnant with your military career. It gives you an opportunity to also better your soldier skills. TheMat.com: What is your rank and responsibility now in the Army? Nieradka: I'm a staff sergeant. I've got a squad I am in charge of. It includes getting the soldiers under you promoted to the schools they need to get promoted to. I make sure that their military careers are as important as their athletic careers. TheMat.com: Wrestling is famous for having successful twin brother combinations. What was it like going through your career with your twin brother Dave at your side? Nieradka: It was the case that you have a training partner all the time. This is especially true for twins; we make each other better. There is nobody in wrestling that you would want to beat more than your brother. That makes you better. If you can do it to your brother, you can do it to anybody. TheMat.com: How did you decide what weight classes to wrestle at? Nieradka: I was always a little bigger. TheMat.com: Dave is no longer wrestling, but if he was, he'd be in your weight class at 60 kg. Nieradka: I told him that and said he'd have to stay retired. TheMat.com: What kind of things are you working on in preparation for the World Team Trials? Nieradka: My shape, just because of Jim Gruenwald. My par terre defense needs to get a little bit tighter. We have also been working a lot from the clinch. TheMat.com: Are you extra motivated about the chance to compete on your first U.S. World Team? Nieradka: I think so. This is what you wrestle for. I have been in it long enough. I feel that it is my time to make a team, finally.
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