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Continued from page 32


Olympic year. But when it was Eiter who emerged as the opponent for Vanni in the 1992 Olympic Trials final wrestle-off, Eiter went to Bloomsburg to train with Jones, who was an assistant there. In the Trials in Pittsburgh, in the best-of-three series, Eiter won the first bout, but Vanni claimed the second and third matches to claim the series and make his second Olympic team. After that, Vanni left Phoenix, and Eiter accepted an assistant position at Clarion, where his main training partner was NCAA champion Sheldon Thomas. For the next Olympic cycle, Eiter battled Vanni but this time, it was Eiter who usu- ally won.


Eiter made his first World Team in 1993, a U.S. squad which claimed its first Senior World Team Title. Eiter also made the 1995 U.S. team which competed at the Worlds in Atlanta, Ga., the second U.S. freestyle team to win a World Team title. His teammates on Team USA includ- ed legends such as Dave Schultz, Bruce Baumgartner, the Brands twins, Kurt Angle, Kevin Jackson, Melvin Douglas, Zeke Jones and Townsend Saunders, a collection many believe was the greatest in U.S. history.


“I was surrounded by some of the best ever produced. It was neat. And we were


a team. We competed all year against each other, but when we got together, there was more of a team feel. It was the same group of guys on those teams, which was a key to our success as a nation,” said Eiter.


Eiter achieved a dream which he never even considered early in his career, when he made the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team which competed in Atlanta, Ga. Eiter beat young Kanamti Soloman to make the team. Vanni lost to Soloman in the Challenge Tournament.


His Olympic experience was challeng-


ing, after Eiter went 2-3 to place eighth. His first loss was to tough Armenian Armen Mkrtchyan, and his second was to World champion Vougar Orudzhov of Russia. The USA had a strong team effort with three champions and first place in the medal count.


“It was the culmination of many of the


guys’ careers, and great to see the team perform. I would have liked to have done better. I was also glad it ended up being in Atlanta. I had so many friends and fam- ily there, and there were so many Americans in the stands supporting you,” said Eiter.


During the Olympics, there were rumors that FILA would change the weight classes, and Eiter took a wait and see attitude about his future.


“If they didn’t change them, I felt I could bulk up for 52 kg. The ideal weight for me would have been 50 kg, which was a rumored weight. I was not happy with how my career ended, and there would have been some big decisions to make. When they make the change, it made it easy for me. 54 kg was too big. At the end of the day, those guys were gigantic and I didn’t have the frame to add another solid 20 pounds,” said Eiter. After that, Eiter had to decide what to do with his life. He returned to his native Illinois to work with his father’s company. But he couldn’t get away from wrestling, He hooked up with Northwestern, where he became a member of the coaching staff. He also became a volunteer freestyle coach for USA Wrestling.. In 1999, Eiter was the head coach of the U.S. Women’s World Team, which won the first World Team Title for the United States in Boden, Sweden. Eiter was a part of the rebuilding of the Northwestern team, which was last in the Big Ten during his early years, but climbed to fourth in the NCAA with stars like Jake Herbert and Dustin Fox. Still trying to decide if he wanted to coach, he began to investigate coaching jobs in the East. His wife was from that area, and Eiter sought a head coach


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33 USA Wrestler


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