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|Olympians Abas and Wood; high schooler Cejudo reach semifinals of Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open|
By John Fuller USA Wrestling
Tempe, Ariz. - Olympians Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif./Sunkist Kids) and Oscar Wood (Fountain, Colo./U.S. Army) reached the semifinals of the 21st annual Sunkist Kids International Open following the first day of men's freestyle and Greco-Roman competition on Friday.
Abas, a silver medalist at last year's Games, did not surrender a point in his first two bouts at 60 kg/132 lbs. setting up a much-anticipated matchup against two-time NCAA champion Travis Lee (Ithaca, N.Y./New York AC) in the semifinals. Lee graduated from Cornell Univ. just last year.
Lee downed another young, talented wrestler, Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 3-4, 2-1, 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
In the other half of the bracket, Saeed Azarbayjani of Canada upset Olympian Sahit Prizreni of Albania (New York AC), 1-0, 7-0 in the second round. Azarbayjani won his next match to advance to the semifinals against Josh Moore (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio/Sunkist Kids), who placed sixth in last year's U.S. World Team Trials.
In two of the deepest weight classes of the tournament, 74 kg/163 lbs. and 84 kg/185 lbs., three U.S. National Team members advances to the semifinals: Joe Heskett (Grover Beach, Calif./Gator WC) and Jared Frayer (Brookline, Mass./Gator WC), at 74 kg and Chris Pendleton (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 84 kg.
Heskett and Frayer will face each other in the top half of the bracket. Neither wrestler has been scored upon yet. In the bottom half, Scott Owen (DeKalb, Ill./New York AC) will face University World Team member Tyrone Lewis (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC).
Pendleton survived a wild match with former NCAA finalist Greg Parker (Princeton, N.J./New York AC) in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 3-1, to advance. He will now face veteran Andy Hrovat (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) in the semifinals.
Clint Wattenberg (Ithaca, N.Y./New York AC) will match up with Aaron Simpson (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) in the bottom half of the bracket.
Local favorite Eric Larkin (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids), a former NCAA champion for Arizona State Univ., outscored his opponents 36-0 in three bouts to advance to the semifinals against JaMarr Billman (Ithaca, N.Y./New York AC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
In the first round, Larkin downed Aaron Holker (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), the same wrestler who downed Larkin in the 2002 NCAA finals.
In the other half of the bracket, 2004 NCAA champion Cliff Moore (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye TC) will meet up with 2003 NCAA finalist Dylan Long (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Panther WC).
At 55 kg/121 lbs., high school senior Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) upset 2004 NCAA champion Jason Powell (Lincoln, Neb./Gator WC) in the first round, 4-0, 3-4, 8-2. Cejudo then won his next match to move into the semifinals against 2001 NCAA finalist Luke Eustice (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye TC).
In the other half of the bracket, Taoka Hidenori of Japan upset U.S. Nationals runner-up Matt Azevedo (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Sunkist Kids), 4-0, 4-0 in the quarterfinals to move into a semifinal bout with Alex Contreras (Tolleson, Ariz./Sunkist Kids).
The semifinals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. will pit NCAA runner-up Sean Stender (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Panther WC) and Ryan Bader (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) in the top half of the bracket. The other semifinal will be between Daniel Pitsch (Spanaway, Wash./Sunkist Kids) and Mike Neufeld of Canada.
At 120 kg/264.5 lbs., Kellan Fluckiger (Morgantown, W.Va./Sunkist Kids) will meet up with James Cadotte of Canada in the semifinals. In the other half of the bracket, Orville Palmer (Norman, Okla./Underdog WC) will face Pat Cummins (Evanston, Ill./New York AC).
Wood, a Greco-Roman Olympian, needed three periods to defeat Mervin Ford (Miami Beach, Fla./USOEC/Gator WC), 5-8, 4-1, 4-1 at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Wood will face his Army teammate, Marcel Cooper (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in the semifinals.
In the other semifinal, U.S. National Team members Mark Rial (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) and James Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) will square off.
Three of this year's U.S. World Team members also advanced to the semifinals in Greco-Roman: 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.
Durlacher also survived a tough match, defeating Jermaine Hodge (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in three periods, 0-6, 2-1, 3-0. He will face Spenser Mango (Flourissant, Mo./USOEC/Gator WC) in the semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket, Duaine Martin (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) will meet Joseph Betterman (Chicago, Ill./USOEC/New York AC).
Warren has dominated on his way to the semifinals, where he will wrestle Moriyama Shinichiro of Japan. Jeremiah Davis (El Cajon, Calif./USOEC/Sunkist Kids) will compete against Northern Michigan teammate Willie Madison (Metairie, La./USOEC/Gator WC) in the other semifinal at 60 kg.
Byers did not compete on Friday, as all four wrestlers at 120 kg received byes into the semifinals. Byers will take on Brandon Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), the older brother of World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz.
Former U.S. World Team member Keith Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) will face Kenny Owens (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in a semifinal bout at 84 kg/185 lbs. The winner of that match will face the winner of a semifinal between Brad Ahearn (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) and John Wechter (East Lansing, Mich./Sunkist Kids) in the gold-medal bout.
On the other side of the bracket, U.S. Nationals runner-up Russ Davie (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) will meet up with Khoren Papoyan (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids).
U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif./USOEC) also advanced to the semifinals. He will face Al Sankey (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) with the winner competing for a gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. R.C. Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) will face Jeff Courtney (Fairmont, W.Va./USOEC) in the other semifinal.
At 74 kg/163 lbs., Jake Fisher (Platte City, Mo./USOEC/New York AC) will meet Brandon McNab (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) in one semifinal and Jess Hargrave (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) will meet up with Cheney Haight (Orem, Utah/USOEC/New York AC) in the other semifinal bout.
Semifinal and consolation competition will resume at 9 a.m. (Pacific Time). Women's freestyle preliminary action will also get underway at the same time.