Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

85. Brad Vering

United States
Age: 30

America's best hope to repeat Rulon Gardner's Greco-Roman wrestling triumph eight years ago, Vering hails from Howells, Neb. Population: 632. His family ran a feed mill, and like any God-fearing citizen of the Cornhusker state, his mother prayed that her son would play football at the University of Nebraska. "She should have given me different genetics then," quips Vering, who is 5-ft. 9-in. and competes in the 84 kg. (185-lb) weight class. "I could have used another three inches, quicker feet, a little more strength." He won an NCAA wrestling title for Nebraska instead, and helped the U.S. to its first Greco-Roman team gold medal at last year's world championships. "I feel that I'm wrestling better now than I ever have in my whole career," he says.