USOEC athletes set their sights on possible 2008 Olympics appearance


On August 24 of this year, the Olympic torch will be lit in Beijing, China for the summer Olympics. With this world event so close in the future and the Unites States Olympic Education Center (USOEC) at Northern, some athletes are making a name in their sport and coming close to fulfilling an Olympic Dream.

Of the three current Olympic sports team with the most potential Olympians for this year is Greco-Roman Wrestling.

All of these athletes are either second or first in their weight class for the nation and they may have the opportunity to represent the U.S. come August.

Not only are they Olympic caliber athletes but they are students at NMU.

Harry Lester 66kg

Lester is No. 1 in his weight class in the nation. He was a gold medalist at the Pan American Games, a six-time athlete of the semester by USA wrestling and named an All-American in 2007-08. He is a senior at Northern and is majoring in history.

Jim Gruenwald 60 kg

Gruenwald is second in the nation in the 60 kg weight class. He made the decision to enter the Olympics earlier this year. He is a two-time Olympian, a two-time national champion and World Cup champion.

Originally from Greendale Wis., Gruenwald has coached at the Northern USOEC since 2005.

Joe Betterman 60 kg

Ranked second in the nation, Betterman has brought home second in the USA team trials and second in the USA nationals. Prior to this season he was third in the U.S. Nationals and third in the New York AC Holiday International Open. He is originally from Lakeview, Ill., and is studying Criminal Justice at Northern.

Spenser Mango 55 kg

Mango earned a second place earlier this season at the Sunkist International Open, and earned second at the Dave Schultz Memorial International Tournament in 2007. He has been named the Greco-Roman athlete of the month and is currently a junior at NMU.

For these four athletes, the road to the summer Olympics has been a long road, but it is winding to a close as the months near August.