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|U.S. Nationals Women’s preview at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The dominant athlete in this division for many years has been 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann of the Sunkist Kids, who also won a 2003 World silver and a 2005 World bronze medal for the United States. McMann made her first World Team in 2000, and has represented the U.S. every year since at the international level. She has a long rivalry with Olympic champion Kaori Icho of Japan, who she lost to in the finals of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
For the first time in many years, McMann lost a match to a U.S. rival, when Randi Miller of the Gator WC defeated her in the finals at the 2007 Dave Schultz Memorial International. McMann's last domestic loss was in 2004 at the U.S. Nationals to Kristie Marano, who has since gone up in weight. McMann actually dropped to 130 pounds (plus a two kg allowance) for the recent Women's World Cup, so she and Miller were both in the U.S. lineup. McMann is a five-time U.S. Nationals champion and enters as the defending champion.
Miller, who has dropped down in weight from 147.5 pounds, has been very successful on the international circuit this year, winning a number of medals. She was second at the U.S. Nationals last year at 147.5 pounds. Her season started with a silver at the Sunkist Kids International, followed by gold medals at the Clansmen International in Canada, the Henri Deglane Challenge in France, the Guelph Open in Canada and the Dave Schultz Memorial. Then came bronze medals at the Tourcoing Golden Grand Prix in France and the Kiev International in Ukraine. Throw in the World Cup, and Miller has been the most active wrestler on the national scene this year. She is also now training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, which seems to have helped her progress continue.
Another top challenger here is 2005 U.S. Nationals champion Alaina Berube of the New York AC, who was second behind McMann at the 2004 Olympic Team Trials. Berube has tremendous experience, not only at international events but also from the active schedule that she wrestles at the Univ. of the Cumberlands. She is arguably the best women's college wrestler in history to date. Berube's top finish this year has been a gold medal at the Sunkist Kids International Open. Berube has the ability to challenge for another U.S. Nationals title, but is coming off the Schultz Memorial where she failed to win a medal.
Jackie Cataline of Cataline Wildcats placed second to McMann at the U.S. Nationals last year, and has been competitive on the Senior level since high school. She was the ASICS Girls High School Wrestler of the Year last season, and won the Junior Nationals title handily. She also has been a member of U.S. age-group World Teams. Cataline has not competed at any major Senior-level event this season, so the U.S. Nationals will be her first showing
Veteran Tori Adams of the Sunkist Kids had a good performance at the Dave Schultz Memorial, with a win over Berube and top challenger Stefenie Shaw of the KT Kidz. Adams is a past Junior World medalist who has wrestled on the Senior level for many years, but has not always been consistent. Las Vegas offers Adams a chance to return to the top levels at this weight division.
Past U.S. Nationals finalist Kaci Lyle of the Sunkist Kids is back on the mats after dealing with health issues that kept her out of action in recent seasons. Lyle won the Clansmen International in Canada and was fourth at the Sunkist Kids International during the fall, but has been sidelined this winter. She has the ability to challenge anybody at this division if she is competing at her best. Natasha Umemoto of the Sunkist Kids, a past U.S. Nationals champion was fifth at this weight in Las Vegas last year, but might be down at 130 pounds.
This weight is stocked with young stars who should be able to make an impact for many years. Stefenie Shaw made big news in 2004, when she had a great performance at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials while still in high school. Deanna Rix of the New York AC was also an age-group star, winning three Junior National titles and a Junior World Team. Rix had some great performances on the Senior level at 130 pounds, but has found making that division difficult, and may be up at 138.75 pounds this season.
Vanessa Oswalt of the Gator WC has been paying her dues at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and has won medals in Canada and France this season. Rachel Billerbeck of Missouri Valley College has also been competitive at this weight, but has the potential to drop to 130 pounds as well. Two wrestlers who were placewinners at the U.S. Nationals last year were Amberle Montgomery of Vision Quest Sport and Fitness and Krisha Childres of the Univ. of the Cumberlands.
The Collegiate Nationals champion at this division is Kelsey Campbell of Arizona State, but she may drop to 130 pounds for the U.S. Nationals. Others from the college community to watch out for are Emily Rinehart of Missouri Valley College and Sherolynn Eppinger of the Univ. of the Cumberlands.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
1st - Sara McMann, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) dec. Jackie Cataline, Corona, Calif. (Cataline's Wildcats), 5-0, 3-0
3rd - Alaina Berube, Escanaba,Mich. (New York AC) dec. Rachel Billerbeck, Plugerville, Texas (Missouri Valley), 3-0, 3-1
5th - Na'Tasha Umemoto, Portland, Ore. (Sunkist Kids) pinned Vanessa Oswalt, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator Wrestling Club), 4-2, 0:32
7th - Amberle Montgomery, Kent, Wash. (Vision Quest Sport and Fitness) pinned Krisha Childres, Goddard, Kan. (Univ. of the Cumberlands), 6-2, 0:45
TheMat.com rankings at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. for February 2007
1. Randi Miller, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
2. Sara McMann, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
3. Alaina Berube, Escanaba,Mich. (New York AC)
4. Tori Adams, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
5. Jackie Cataline, Corona, Calif. (Cataline's Wildcats)
6. Stefenie Shaw, Waterford, Conn. (USOEC)
7. Kaci Lyle, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
8. Deanna Rix, South Berwick, Maine (New York AC)
9. Vanessa Oswalt, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
10. Rachel Billerbeck, Plugerville, Texas (Missouri Valley)