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Pat Smith upset victim in wrestling championships

April 26, 1997

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Willie Short, seeded ninth, beat top-seeded Pat Smith on Friday in the biggest upset of the opening day of the U.S. National Wrestling Championships.

Smith, ranked second nationally at 167 1/2 pounds, was a four-time NCAA champion at Oklahoma State.

At 119 pounds, top-seeded Lou Rosselli of Edinboro, Pa., beat Craig Vitagliano of Hofstra University and Jason Nurre of Cedar Falls, Iowa, by technical falls, then ended the day with a 7-0 victory over eighth-seeded Eric Albarracin of Coral Springs, Fla.

Rosselli’s biggest threat could come from third-seeded Zeke Jones of Chandler, Ariz., a three-time All-American at Arizona State and silver medalist in the 1992 Olympics who both of his matches.

``I really think I can win this thing,″ Jones said. ``I think I’m the guy to beat. I’ll be even better tomorrow.″

Townsend Saunders of Phoenix, a 1996 Olympic silver medalist and top-seeded at 153 pounds, also won two matches by technical falls.

``I feel better now than I did at this time last year,″ Saunders said. ``The pressure of the Olympics is tough. I feel good here, I plan on winning.″

A repeat of the intense rivalry between Oregon’s Les Gutches and Arizona’s Kevin Jackson at 187 pounds appeared imminent.

Jackson, 32, is a two-time world champion and won an Olympic gold in 1992. Gutches, 24, a three-time All-American at Oregon State, is ranked No. 1 in the nation.

``I’m not ready to give up yet,″ Jackson said. ``If Les Gutches wants to be the heir apparent at 187 pounds, he’s going to have to go through me. I think about him all day.″

Gutches is also ready.

``I don’t worry about Kevin Jackson,″ he said. ``Let Kevin Jackson worry about me.″

The two have split six previous matches.

In Greco-Roman, top seeds Dennis Hall of Stevens Point, Wis., a silver medalist at Atlanta last year, advanced easily at 127 pounds, as did Randy Couture of Corvallis, Ore., at 213 3/4 pounds. Each won twice by technical falls.

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