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Randy Lewis from Young Arena in Waterloo

May 24th, 2009 by Tom

Lewis talks about return to the mat

Randy Lewis created quite a buzz in the wrestling world when he returned to the mat for the first time in 17 years for the Senior Freestyle competition at the Northern Plains Regional held,  in Waterloo.

The 1984 Olympic gold medalist won his first two matches before falling to Northern Iowa two-time All-American Moza Fay in the semifinals (pictured).

Find out what Lewis had to say about his return to the mat and also what Fay thought about wrestling the legendary grappler in our Full Access article.

Also, check out our photos from the event, which includes all three of Lewis' matches and bouts from Junior and Senior freestyle action, on DotPhoto.

Click here to view tournament results

Randy Lewis goes old-school

May 18th, 2009 by Tom

Former Hawkeye, 49, wins pair of matches at regional tourney

By Jim Nelson

Waterloo Courier

WATERLOO " At an age when most men are beginning to stare down retirement, Randy Lewis decided to find out if he was still tough.

Wrestling for the first time since the 1992 Olympic trials, the 49-year-old Lewis, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, showed he's pretty tough for a guy who will turn 50 next month, but not quite tough enough to tame all the youngsters in his given sport of freestyle wrestling.

Lewis, a two-time national champion at Iowa, won two matches Saturday at the 2009 Northern Plains Senior and Junior Regional championships at Young Arena before losing in the semifinals to Northern Iowa's two-time All-American Moza Fay.

"It was fun," Lewis said. "It was real fun those first two matches. It was fun against Moza. It was a great experience for me. I'm glad I did it."

Fay, more than a quarter century younger than Lewis, won the 163-pound semifinal, 9-2, 7-0.

"I made a couple of mistakes in that match against Moza and he is too solid for me to give up that much position," Lewis said. "And once he got on top it was pretty much over.

"I told myself before this started if I got in a tight situation where if it was a decision to get hurt or turned, I was going to let them turn me and that was the decision Moza Fay gave me."

Fay was his usual humble self in victory, raising Lewis' hand in at the conclusion of the match as several hundred fans stood and applauded the former Iowa great.

"Honestly, I was nervous going into that match," Fay said. "I mean really nervous because he is an Olympic champion, and I didn't care if he was 49 years old.

"I knew he probably wasn't going to win it, but it was cool to wrestle him and good for the sport. I just wish it wasn't me who had to beat him."

Fay lost in the final to Illinois' Mike Poeta, 4-1, 9-3.

Lewis opened with a 1-0, 3-0 win over James Reynolds of the Maverick Wrestling Club, and beat Trent Larrieu of Victory School of Wrestling in the quarterfinals, 3-1, 5-1.

"I think I let a few people know I still have some stuff ... probably not as much as I thought I had," Lewis said with a laugh.

Iowa All-American Daniel Dennis beat reigning 133-pound national champion Franklin Gomez, (1-0, 0-2, 0-0, 1-0), in the 132.25 semifinals before topping Northwestern's Brandon Precin, 7-0, 2-0, in the final.

The Northern Plains is a last-chance qualifier for the World Team trials May 30-31 in Council Bluffs.

Other champions were Cruse Aarhus of the Panther Wrestling Club at 121, Jared Frayer of the Gator Wrestling Club at 145.5, Chris Pendleton of the Gator Wrestling Club at 185, J.D. Bergman of the New York Athletic Club at 211.5 and Eric Thompson of the Cyclone Wrestling Club at 264.5.

Just Shy of 50, Randy Lewis Returns to 1st Love — Wrestling

May 18th, 2009 by Tom

By DAN McCOOL - [email protected]

Randy Lewis, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, believes he has one more freestyle wrestling tournament in him.

That tournament is today's Northern Plains Regional at Young Arena in Waterloo. Lewis, who is 22 days shy of his 50th birthday, will compete at 163 pounds.

"I just want to find out. This is more about my own personal knowledge," said Lewis, who lives in Iowa City. "I've always felt like I have one tournament in me, and I want to wrestle it.

"I'm not doing this to qualify for Council Bluffs, I'm already qualified for Council Bluffs if I wanted to. If I were to win (Northern Plains) and feel good, I'd have to think about it."

The champions in freestyle today qualify for the World Team trials May 30-31 in Council Bluffs.

Because of his gold medal, Lewis could compete in the world trials without having to qualify through a regional tournament.

Lewis is not the oldest wrestler to compete in a regional or national tournament according to Craig Sesker, communications manager for USA Wrestling. Shaun Scott of Millersville, Pa., was 61 when he competed in Greco-Roman at the National Open last month in Las Vegas.

Sesker said Lewis is the oldest world or Olympic team member to compete in an event, however, beating Greg Gibson by two years.

"I've been thinking about it for 17 years. It was a one-day decision " I wasn't training for it," Lewis said. "I decided this spur-of-the-moment three weeks ago ... I weighed 183 before practice, worked out a little bit and a sauna afterwards and got down to 177 and said, 'You know what, I'm going to do it.' "

As Lewis closes in on a landmark birthday, he's 261/2 pounds over the 136.5 pounds he weighed while winning gold in Los Angeles in 1984. Lewis was at 149.5 pounds when he last competed, in the 1992 Olympic Trials.

A groin injury halted Lewis's bid to make the 1996 Olympic team. The two-time NCAA champion at Iowa also considered wrestling in the Midlands Open last year.
Lewis has wrestled 27 world or Olympic medalists. He's not sure what to expect today.

"I might get hurt the first match, I might get real tired," Lewis said. "I probably will get real tired, but you know what? I've watched some of the guys wrestle and some of these guys stand out there and do nothing. I can stand there and do nothing for 2 minutes, too. If they come after me, I might get real tired, but I might score 6 points pretty quick."

A 6-point differential or scoring two 3-point moves automatically wins a 2-minute period in the best-of-three format.

Former Iowa coach Dan Gable, who coached Lewis in college and during the 1984 Olympics, said there could be a specific purpose for his return.

"It's kind of like he's telling us that we've made it easy enough that 50-year-olds can wrestle in it," Gable said, "or he's telling us we need a little excitement in it, maybe he can spice it up a little bit."

Lewis said he's had plenty of folks tell him he's goofy for returning to the mat.
"I'm too old to train, my body gets beat up training," Lewis said, "but I'm so confident in myself that I don't really think I need to train for one tournament."

More of the old guard could succeed on the mat, Lewis said.

"I'm not the only one that I think could win a tournament like this who is in their 40s," Lewis said. "I think there are several other people that could, but they wouldn't do it unless they trained really, really hard. If they trained really, really hard, they'd get too beat up to wrestle, so it's a Catch-22 there. I think I'm the only one goofy enough to go out and try it."

Gable said it might be something else.

"I don't think he's crazy, I just think he's missing something and he needs a little action, a little excitement in his life right now," Gable said. "I don't think he's looking to become a world champion this year right now, I think he's just looking to have some fun."

49-year-old Lewis stepping back on wrestling mat

May 18th, 2009 by Tom

By J.R. Ogden
The Gazette
[email protected]

Randy Lewis is the first to call himself crazy.

"We already knew that, "he said with a laugh. "That's been documented for a long time."

Lewis, a two-time NCAA champion wrestler at the University of Iowa, will take the mat today for the first time in 17 years, wrestling at the 2009 Northern Plains Junior-Senior Regional Championships at Young Arena in Waterloo.

The 1984 Olympic gold medalist is 49 years old.

"I've thought about this for a long time, "said Lewis, a two-time Olympian and four-time All-American at Iowa in the late 1970s. "But every time I trained, I got hurt."

His solution? Stop training. It never really helped his wrestling anyway, he said.

"I'm not going to train, other than getting my weight down, "he said. "I'm too old to train ... but I think I'm young enough for one tournament."

Lewis said he feels 49 "when I look in the mirror."

"I'm just doing this for fun, "he said. "I'm going to put on a show and I'm going to have fun."

Fun, yes. But when the whistle blow, it will be all business. He'll wrestle at 163 pounds, up a few pounds from the 126 and 134 he wrestled in college.

"I'm going to step out their expecting to win, "he said.

It's that determination, that confidence, that help Lewis win 127 bouts as a Hawkeye, the last in 1980.

"I happen to think I'm pretty tough, "Lewis said. "I have a unique style.

"If I were in shape, my skills are as good as they ever were. I've been amazed at some of the things I've been able to do."

He said the wrestling came natural, the technique is solid and the timing still is there.

"I don't know how long those are going to last " four minutes, six minutes, "he said with a laugh.

Confidence is something Lewis has never lost, either.

"I have some skills that these guys aren't used to, "he said. "They are going to have to wrestle good to beat me."

Lewis said several friends and other wrestlers have asked him for several years to "wrestle one more time, "including former Iowa State standout Chris Bono. Lewis, too, always wondered if he still had what it takes for one last event.

"I really want to test myself, "he said.

’84 Gold Medalist Randy Lewis: Back to the Mats at Age 49

May 12th, 2009 by Tom

Andy Hamilton "¢ Iowa City Press-Citizen "¢ May 2, 2009

Randy Lewis has talked for years about returning to competition in the sport that made him an Olympic champion.

He figures he might as well do it while he's still young.

"I'll be 50 soon, "the former Iowa wrestling great said Friday afternoon. "But I feel like I'm only 47 and a half."

Lewis hasn't wrestled in a competitive setting since the 1992 Olympic Trials. He's 30 years removed from winning his first NCAA title with the Hawkeyes. He'll turn 50 in June and celebrate the 25th anniversary of winning Olympic gold in August.

But first he plans to compete May 16 in Waterloo at the Northern Plains Regional, a freestyle qualifying tournament for the World Team Trials.

"He's been talking about coming back and wrestling since the day he retired, "Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "This isn't the first time, and it's not going to be the last."

But Lewis is serious now. He's thought this through. He has myriad reasons for getting back on the mat -- the enjoyment he used to derive from competition, his quest to get down to 163 pounds and shed a few inches from his waistline are a couple -- and the lyrics of a Toby Keith tune are speaking to his heart.

I used to be hell on wheels back when I was a younger man. Now my body says, "You can't do this boy. "But my pride says, "Oh yes you can."

I ain't as good as I once was. That's just the cold hard truth. I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof. So don't double-dog dare me now. 'Cause I'd have to call your bluff.

I ain't as good as I once was. But I'm as good once as I ever was.

"I'm like that song, "Lewis said. "I'm not as good as I once was. But I'm as good once as I ever was."

In his prime, Lewis was one of Iowa's all-time greats. He was a two-time NCAA champion, three-time national finalist and four-time All-American with the Hawkeyes. He made the Olympic team for the first time in 1980 at 21. He became a fan favorite with his high-flying style that produced 104 points in seven matches on his way to Olympic gold in 1984 and he frustrated opponents who tried attacking his legs, which earned the monikers "the impossible leg "and "the nearly impossible leg."

"The impossible leg is still pretty darn hard to take down until I get real tired, "Lewis said. "And the nearly impossible leg I don't let them get to."

Adds former U.S. World Team coach Mike Duroe: "If you watch him on the mat, obviously he can still wrestle. He was gifted 20 years ago, and he still has those gifts and talents. But when you're not training and you're not doing those things in competition, you get rusty. But I think the new rules make it possible for a guy to come back after not competing for a while."

Lewis wants to prove that. He said he wouldn't be contemplating a comeback if the freestyle rules were the same as they were in 1980 when matches lasted nine minutes. But Lewis said the element of conditioning largely has been removed from the sport with two-minute periods in a best-of-three format, and he thinks the current rules play to his favor.

"I still have very special skills in my opinion, "Lewis said. "Everybody who has seen me wrestle in the room would agree. In a short time, I'm going to be very tough to beat. The freestyle rules right now, they've made the matches very short. If I come out and score six points in 30 seconds or throw a guy twice, that period is over and I'm not going to get very tired in 30 seconds. But if I get in a two-minute scramble in the first period and have a 5-4 match with somebody and the same thing happens in the second period and I split them, I'm going to be in trouble in the third period."

Lewis isn't taking a normal approach to competition. He said he won't wrestle hard during the next two weeks to make sure he doesn't sustain an injury that could prevent him from following through on his promise to compete in Waterloo.

"He's a competitor, "Brands said. "He gets up for competition. Whether you're prepared or not, he's a gamer. Some guys have to go in there and they have to train and really prepare and that's part of their confidence. Randy Lewis has an innate confidence about him, and that's probably the difference between him and a lot of guys."

The differences between Lewis and the other wrestlers in his bracket will be more transparent in Waterloo. He said he's heard the field will include two-time NCAA runner-up Mike Poeta, a senior at Illinois who was born two years after Lewis won Olympic gold.

Part of this is about curiosity for Lewis, who said he'd like the opportunity to wrestle Poeta. Part of this is about representing a generation of wrestling legends.

"There are other guys out there who under today's rules would be competitive, and I'm not talking about making a World Team competitive, "Lewis said. "But they'd give the No. 1, 2 and 3 guys a good go for one match and they'd beat a lot of the guys who are fifth, sixth and seventh on the ladder or lower down. But none of those guys are as crazy as me to go out and do it. I'm kind of doing this for all us old men. I can guarantee you Gable in his 40s could kick everybody's (butt) still.

"People don't believe it, but I was there. I was 31 and I beat the World champ and (Dan) Gable was 41 and he was still smoking me easy. I've watched Tom and Terry Brands be retired for eight years and believe me, they would still be very, very, very hard to beat. All three of those guys kept themselves in better shape than I have, but this really isn't about shape now in two-minute matches."