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Cejudo, Wong, Lester named Outstanding Wrestlers at New York AC Holiday Championships

Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

Three talented wrestlers were named Outstanding Wrestlers after spectacular performances at the New York Athletic Club Holiday Championships on Sunday, November 20 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

Named as Outstanding Wrestlers were Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) in men's freestyle, Jenny Wong (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) in women's freestyle and Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio/Gator WC/USOEC) in men's Greco-Roman.

Cejudo, a high school senior who has quickly become a force on the Senior level, scored a 1-2, 4-1, 10-2 win over Ekhkhtur Badamsakian (Advanced Training) in the gold-medal finals at 55 kg/121 lbs. Cejudo hit a five-point throw in the deciding third period to finish the match for the win.

In the semifinals, Cejudo defeated 2005 Junior World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia, 3-1, 7-0.

"This tournament is just the beginning of my World and Olympic titles," said Cejudo. "This is just a sample. That is why I do this instead of high school. There is more competition in freestyle. The guy that won the Junior Worlds, I beat in the semis. I feel like a World champion. I got it back."

In a tight battle at 112.25 pounds, Wong, a 2003 World bronze medalist, defeated 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Sunkist Kids). Miranda, who has moved up in weight from 105.5 lbs., was competing in her first event since the 2004 Olympic Games. Wong was a member of the 2005 U.S. World Team at this division.

"I am really happy it went like this. I have been working on my offense. To win with a takedown is a big deal, Patricia is a tough competitor, and this was a satisfying win for me," said Wong.

Lester, who was a member of the 2005 U.S. World Team, stopped Mark Rial (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator), 6-0, 7-0.

"This is definetly a confidence builder. I wrestled really well. I felt I got off my moves. I wrestled well on my feet. On the mat, I did well with par terre defense. I felt strong on my feet. I felt better than I usually do," said Lester.

All four U.S. Greco-Roman World Team members who entered the competition won their weight classes.

Along with Lester, the other 2005 World Team members winning titles were Lindsey Durlacher (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Joe Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 60 kg/132 lbs., and 2002 World Champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. All three of these wrestlers were also champions at the NYAC Holiday Open last year as well.

Durlacher beat Joseph Betterman (Chicago, Ill./NYAC), 3-1, 1-1 in the finals. It was a rematch of the Sunkist Kids Open finals, won by Betterman.

Warren beat Willie Madison (Metarie, La./Gator/USOEC), 5-0, 3-0 in the finals. Warren was ninth in the World Championships in Hungary this year.

Byers stopped Russ Davie (Colorado Springs, Colo./NYAC), 1-1, 6-0, 2-0. These are the top two ranked wrestlers in this weight class in the nation.

The women's division featured a number of highly competitive matches between talented stars.

At 67 kg/147.5 lbs., 2005 World bronze medalist Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) defeated two-time World champion Kristie Marano (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 67 kg/147.5 lbs., 2-0, 1-0. It was a rematch of the finals of the 2005 World Team Trials, won by Downing.

2005 U.S. World Team members Stephanie Murata (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) stopped 2004 Olympic Trials runner-up Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs/Sunkist Kids) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., 5-0, 2-0. Murata, a past World silver medalist, has not competed as low as 48 kg before, often wrestling at 51 kg or 55 kg in the past. Chun defeated 2005 World bronze medalist Carol Huhyn of Canada in the semifinals to earn her spot in the finals against Murata.

In the men's freestyle division, only one returning champion was able to defend his title. Tommy Rowlands (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist) defeated Pat Cummins (State College, Pa./NYAC), 1-1, 6-4 in the finals at 120 kg/264.5 pounds. Rowlands was the champion at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. last year.

Other men's freestyle champions were:
- Travis Lee (Ithaca, N.Y./New York AC) at 60 kg/132 lbs.
- Jared Larwrence (Minneapolis, Minn./Minn. Storm) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
- Kakhabez Khubezhty of Russia at 74 kg/163 lbs.
- Andy Hrovat (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) at 84 kg/185 lbs.
- Nick Preston (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Other women's champions were:
- Marcie Van Dusen (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs.
- Breanne Graham of Calgary, Canada (UCWC) at 59 kg/130 lbs.
- Megan Dolan of Calgary Canada/UCWC) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
- Tabitha Golt (Chesapeake, Va./Cumberland) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

Other Greco-Roman champions were:
- Sasa Petkovic (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 74 kg/163 lbs.
- Noumouvi Melonin of Rosny at 84 kg/185 lbs.
- Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif./Gator WC/USOEC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
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