DALLAS (AP) -- Matt Ghaffari kept his Olympic hopes alive by winning the 286-pound division of the Greco-Roman challenge tournament in the U.S. wrestling trials.
The 38-year-old wrestler from Avon Lake, Ohio, rallied on Friday from a 1-0 second-round deficit at Reunion Arena for a 3-1 victory over Dremiel Byers of the U.S. Army.
Three Minnesotans saw their trips to Sydney canceled abruptly after they fell victim to an intricate rule.
David Zuniga, Billy Pierce and Jason Klohs all lost within a 45-minute period. Zuniga, a 1996 Olympian, Pierce, a Minnesota prep and collegiate star and Klohs, who represented the U.S. in two world championships, were eliminated from the trials in overtime matches that ended 1-0.
A sobbing Klohs, 27, retired on the spot, ceremoniously placing his size-14 high-top wrestling shoes in the center of the blue mat, as is the sport's tradition.
Ghaffari, trying to qualify for his third straight Olympics, will meet reigning U.S. champion Rulon Gardner on Saturday in a best-of-three match to determine who will advance to the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
''I didn't want my last match being a mini-tournament,'' said Ghaffari, the silver medalist in the 1996 Olympics who has six U.S. titles and four world championships. ''I want to make the Olympic team to carry the flag and bring wrestling some attention.''
Ghaffari began his day with a 1-0 overtime decision over Billy Pierce of Minneapolis. Then he was forced to gamble against Byers. ''I have no fear, no doubt,'' Ghaffari said. ''My heart knows that I'm a 2000 Olympian. ... I knew that he was ahead and I had to score, so I tried some stuff I used in high school. ... I took a chance because I had nothing to lose.''
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