Cheney Haight, a former standout wrestler at Orem's Timpanogos High, just missed making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team after falling twice in Saturday's best-of-three championship series of the 74-kilogram Greco-Roman division at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Wrestling for the New York Athletic Club, Haight had the best results of the four former Utah wrestlers in Saturday's middle day of the three-day trials event in Las Vegas.
Three-time Utah prep state champion Justin Ruiz of Taylorsville, who went on to become an All-American at the University of Nebraska and is a five-time U.S. Nationals champ, wrestles tonight at the favorite in tonight's 96-kilogram Greco-Roman division.
Haight, who wrestled collegiately at Northern Michigan, was seeded fourth in his division and had finished fourth in April's U.S. Nationals. He ripped through his division's "Challenge" (preliminary wrestle-off) matches, reaching the best-of-three Championship matches against T.C. Dantzler, who like Ruiz in his weight class, was advanced directly to the championship matches because of his national and international successes.
Dantzler needed only the two-match minimum to send Haight to runner-up status, winning both by decisions the first by a 3-2, 0-2, 5-0 score, and the second, 5-1, 1-1, 4-1.
After an opening-round bye, Haight decisioned Ken Cook of Sunkist Kids (7-1, 2-1) in the quarterfinals and decisioned Andrew Bisek of Minnesota Storm (1-1, 1-1, 4-0) in the semifinals.
In the first-place match of the division's challenge series, Haight beat Keith Sieracki of the U.S. Army in a 4-1, 3-1 decision, pushing Haight into Saturday night's championships to face a fresh and rested Dantzler.
In the same 74-kilogram Greco-Roman challenge, Talan Knox formerly of Brighton High, currently of Northern Michigan and wrestling for Sunkist Kids went from No. 8 seed to third-place finisher.
Knox opened with a 1-1, 2-1 decision over Steven Forrest of the U.S. Marines (1-1, 2-1), then downed N.Y. Athletic Club's Jake Fisher (1-1, 0-4, 1-1) before falling to Sieracki (1-1, 1-1, 1-1) in the semifinals.
Working his way back through the consolation side of the bracket, Knox beat Cook in a 6-0, 0-2, 1-1 decisions before beating Army's Jess Hargrave (1-1, 2-1) in the Challenge's third-place match.
Also, former Provo High wrestler Nathaniel Holt won one match by forfeit and lost two in the 66-kilogram freestyle class, while ex-Pleasant Grove wrestler Bo Beckman lost both of his matches in the 66-kilogram Greco-Roman division.