Chances are that most folks aren't familiar with Mark Fuller, a three-time Olympian and undoubtedly the most successful wrestler ever to attend Brigham Young University.
There are several good reasons for Fuller's unfamiliarity among local sports fans. First, he didn't compete at BYU. Instead, beginning in 1984 he has trained and helped coach on the Provo campus while pursuing an undergraduate degree.And second, he's a Greco-Roman wrestler - you remember, the variation that is strictly upper-body emphasis and rarely gets much public attention outside of the fourth-year Olympic seasons.
However, there are some much better reasons why folks ought to be better acquainted with Fuller.
The 27-year-old becomes only the fourth U.S. wrestler to earn a third Olympic-team berth. Not only that, but he's a five-time national champion, the silver medalist at the 1983 Pan American Games and the 1981 Junior World Champion - the first American to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in that tournament.
Add to that list the fact that his medal chances in Seoul are enhanced by, first, his extensive international experience and, second, his commitment to drop down to the 48-kilogram (105.5 pounds) category, where he had wrestled only once between his appearance in the '84 Olympics and the Olympic trials earlier this summer in Florida.
Finishing second at the national championships earlier this year at 114.5 pounds (the weight where he has won four of his five national titles), Fuller entered the Trials with a No. 2 ranking, defeating long-time opponent T.J. Jones of Navy to become the lightest member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.
One of Fuller's top Olympic opponents is expected to be the USSR's Minsent Allakhverdijiv, the three-time world champion who won when the two met in a Memorial Day tournament. But it was was Allakhverdijiv who suffered defeat in Fuller's title match in the '81 Junior World meet - the only other time the two have faced.
However, chances are good that the two saw a lot of each other as Fuller and the U.S. team recently completed a two-week training session in the Soviet Union.
Fuller was 19 years old when he made the Olympic squad for the first time; however, the U.S. boycott prevented his wrestling in Moscow that summer. In 1984, he reinjured a knee, which kept him off the mats until three days before the competition started. Plus, the '84 weigh-ins were required the morning of each match, with Fuller being weakened for competition by having to make weight at the last minute.
Since the Seoul weigh-ins come the night before the matches, Fuller is expected to be at full-strength - another advantage as he seeks an elusive Olympic medal.