ATLANTA (AP) _ Kenny Monday, trying for a third Olympic medal at the same weight where the late Dave Schultz hoped to represent the United States, scored an unexpectedly narrow victory today in his preliminary round match.

Two-time Olympic champion Bruce Baumgartner had it much easier, defeating Canada's Andy Bordow 10-0 at 286 pounds. Baumgartner can join an elite class of U.S. athletes by winning a medal in four consecutive Olympics.

Monday, who began a comeback last fall after a year away from freestyle wrestling, was awarded a referee's decision after a 1-1 overtime tie with Cuba's Alberto Rodriguez at 163 pounds.

Monday trailed 1-0 until tying it with four seconds remaining after the Cuban fled the mat to avoid a possible takedown. Monday, of Tulsa, Okla., then got the decision due to a caution warning and more passivity calls on Rodriguez.

``Kenny was a little sluggish. He's a lot better wrestler than he showed there,'' U.S. coach Joe Seay said.

Monday won a gold medal in 1988 and, despite wrestling with a fractured elbow, took second in Barcelona in 1992. But he let his weight climb to over 200 pounds before stepping back onto the mat last year.

Did he feel pressured to score late?

``That's the understatement of the day,'' said Monday, who felt he should have gotten a 1-point escape earlier in the match. ``I put pressure on him. He ran off the mat.''

Monday was preparing to go head-to-head with Schultz for the right to represent America at 163 pounds until the 1984 gold medalist was shot to death in January.

``Dave and I talked about it last November,'' Monday said. ``We ran into each other at a tournament, and he said, `Back to wrestling, huh?' And I said, `Yes.' But no matter what happened to Dave, I feel I would have been here. I have to feel that way.''

Also today, former world champion Tom Brands of Iowa City, Iowa, defeated Iran's Ali Haji Kenari 2-0 at 136 1/2 pounds, and 114 1/2-pounder Lou Rosselli, of Edinboro, Pa., lost 7-0 to Namik Abdullayev of Azerbaijan. Melvin Douglas, of Chandler, Ariz., got a first-round bye at 198.

Rosselli is an assistant coach at Edinboro (Pa.) University under Baumgartner, whose toughest match in the super heavyweight class may come tonight against Russia's Andrei Shumilin. Baumgartner had lost to the Russian three straight times before beating him in a Russia-U.S. dual meet in Bethlehem, Pa., in April.

There were no medal matches today in freestyle wrestling. The medal matches will be Friday.

But before the wrestling started today, the crying had to stop.

Kendall Cross cried after winning a gold medal Wednesday after almost quitting wrestling for lack of money. Kurt Angle cried after almost quitting wrestling for lack of winning.

``I almost quit two years ago,'' Angle said after a referee's decision over Iran's disbelieving Abbas Jadidi made him the Olympic 220-pound freestyle wrestling champion.

``I kept falling short, so I took 10 weeks off. Finally, I told myself that if I continued, I had to be the best,'' he said. ``I couldn't keep taking second and third all the time. I had to start winning,''

He did. He won a national title, then the world title. Now, at age 27, he owns the biggest title of them all.

So does Cross. The 1992 Olympian wasn't even picked to make this year's team. He surprised many by upsetting world champion Terry Brands during the U.S. Open in April and the Olympic trials last month.

Winning the U.S. trials gave him the confidence to beat Canada's Guya Sissaouri 5-3 in the 125 1/2-pound finals.