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|U.S. Nationals Women’s preview at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda of the Sunkist Kids won her third career World Championships medal last year with her bronze-medal performance in Gunagzhou, China. She was also a 2000 and 2003 World silver medalist. Her only loss in the tournament was to Japan's Hitomi Sakamoto, a multiple-World champion who is among the greatest wrestlers on the women's scene. Miranda entered the New York AC Holiday International just for an opportunity to face Sakamoto, and although she did not win, she closed the gap on her top international rival.
Miranda has won gold medals at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, the Guelph Open in Canada and the Tourcoing Golden Grand Prix in France. She also won all three of her matches during the World Cup this past weekend. Miranda, who took a year off after the 2004 Olympics for her first year of law school, will have to make a decision soon concerning her weight class. With the Olympics only a year and a half away, she will need to time her drop down to 48 kg sometime in the upcoming month in order to compete in one of the four Olympic weight classes.
2003 World bronze medalist Jenny Wong has emerged as the top challenger to Miranda during the last two seasons. Wong beat Miranda at the 2005 New York AC Holiday International, Miranda's first event back from her short retirement. Miranda has won all of the recent battles, including their bout at the recent Dave Schultz Memorial International finals. Wong also won a silver medals at the Sunkist Kids International, and bronze medals in tournaments in France and Canada this year. She remains a very competitive on the international level, but has to find a way to beat Miranda at this weight division.
This weight class features a mix of young athletes who are emerging on the national level with a few veteran athletes. College stars Jessica Medina of Cumberland College and Kapua Torres of Pacific have been active and successful in recent seasons. Torres was fourth at the Sunkist Kids International this year, and Medina was fourth at the New York AC Holiday Championships.
However, the winner at the College National Championships at this weight was Sara Fulp-Allen of Menlo College, who moved up this season on the college circuit after success at 48 kg. Medina was second and Torres was third behind Fulp-Allen at the college level. If Fulp-Allen stays up at this division for the U.S. Nationals, she will be expected to challenge for one of the top spots.
Junior Nationals champion Joey Miller of the New York AC, a high school star, has been successful on the Senior level. She moved up to this weight class last year and took third in the World Team Trials, making Women's Team USA for the first time. She was also fifth at the U.S. Nationals last year.
Julieta Okot of the New York AC, who received U.S. citizenship after competing at the World level for Bulgaria, has considerable experience. She placed third in last year's U.S. Nationals and fourth at the World Team Trials.
Others to watch include college wrestlers Samantha Schuman of Missouri Valley College, Kelli Rasmussen of the Univ. of Regina and Claire Dupont of Colorado School of Mines. All have the potential to be placewinners at the U.S. Nationals, and look to challenge for the medal round matches. Whitney Conder has also made an impact at this weight class this year. A veteran to watch is Cheryl Wong of the New York AC, who was sixth at last year's U.S. Nationals and has placed nationally a number of times.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.
1st - Patricia Miranda, New Haven, Conn. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Jenny Wong, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 0-1, 1-0, 3-0
3rd - Julieta Okot, New York, N.Y. (New York AC) pin Jessica Medina, Pomona, Calif. (Univ. of the Cumberlands), 0-2, 0:22
5th - Joey Miller, Woodward, Okla. (New York AC) pin Cheryl Wong, Croton, N.Y. (New York AC), 1:06
7th - Samantha Schuman, Omaha, Neb. (Missouri Valley) dec. Kelli Rasmussen, Winnebago, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 2-1, 3-0
TheMat.com Women's rankings at 51 kg (112 lbs.) for Feb. 2007
1. Patricia Miranda, New Haven, Conn. (Sunkist Kids)
2. Jenny Wong, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
3. Kapua Torres, Kahuku, Hawaii (Pacific Univ.)
4. Jessica Medina, Pomona, Calif. (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
5. Joey Miller, Woodward, Okla. (New York AC)
6. Julieta Okot, New York, N.Y. (New York AC)
7. Whitney Conder, Payallup, Wash. (Vision Quest Sports/Fitness)
8. Samantha Schuman, Omaha, Neb. (Missouri Valley)
9. Kelli Rasmussen, Winnebago, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
10. Claire Dupont, Leadville, Colo. (Colorado Mines)