by Walt Johnson
Editors note: The following article on World Class Athlete Program wrestler Dremiel Byers was written by Tim Hipps, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.Fittingly, during the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, U.S.
Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman heavyweight wrestler Dremiel Byers recently joined the ranks of the senior NCOs with his promotion to sergeant first class.
Byers will represent the Army on Team USA at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships scheduled for Sept. 21-27 in Herning, Denmark.
“A senior NCO can really take the guys to a higher level on the military side,” said WCAP wrestling coach Staff Sgt. Shon Lewis, who also is among the U.S. contingent headed to Denmark. “As a staff sergeant, you can walk some things through. Of course, the more rank you get, the farther you can walk with it, so that’s going to be huge for the wrestling team.”Byers has been walking the walk on wrestling mats for the past decade. He reiterated his primary purpose at so many international tournaments that it has become his personal working mantra:
“Get my hand raised,” Byers said, “and our song played.”
A world champion in 2002, Byers helped Team USA win its only Greco-Roman team title in the history of amateur wrestling at the 2007 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. He knows the spine-tingling sensation of hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner” being played on foreign soil while watching the stars and stripes get hoisted to the rafters. He intends to hear it again.
Skeptics wonder what makes Byers think he can remain atop the U.S. heavyweight division until the 2012 Olympics in London, when he will be 37 years old.
“These young guys, I know that they are a different breed,” he said. “I will never knock them for who they are, their abilities, their performance or anything, because you never want to give a guy a reason.
At the same time, I miss having a threat in practice. And if I can’t have that, then I’m going to be that. I am that. Eventually, they’ll get it.”
Byers is going to Denmark to get his, and he vows to keep coming back until someone in America knocks him off.
“There’s this thing about crawling back to the center and being ready to go out there and fight,” he said. “I’ve got to be that guy. Some people say take off and take it easy, but I’m always hungry for the competition. I can’t wait to get back to the competition.
“Generally, I don’t look back,” said Byers, who contends that he never will again. “I’m representing the Army and my coaches do a good job of reminding me that people are counting on me to get it done, and why we’re doing this. I’ve got to stick around until the next Olympic Games. I feel like I can win that one.”
For this year, however, another world championship