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Seven World or Olympic champions headline star-studded field for U.S. World Team Trials



You don't have to look far to find standout wrestlers with glowing resumes when you scan the list of qualifiers for the 2007 U.S. World Team Trials.

A total of seven World or Olympic champions have qualified for the event that is set for June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The star-studded list includes 2006 World champions Joe Warren and Bill Zadick.

Two-time World champion and eight-time World medalist Kristie Marano also has qualified for this event along with past World champions Dremiel Byers, Iris Smith and Sammie Henson. 1996 Olympic champion Kendall Cross, back on the mat after a 10-year layoff, is expected to compete.

The champions in each weight class in freestyle, women's freestyle and Greco-Roman will qualify for the 2007 World Championships on Sept. 17-23 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) is poised to make another run at a World title at 60 kg/132 lbs. in Greco-Roman wrestling. Warren won the World Cup earlier this year before destroying the field to win the U.S. Nationals title in April. Warren is looking to make his third straight U.S. World Team.

Zadick, who has been slowed by an assortment of injuries and ailments, finally returned to the mat this past weekend and won a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships in San Salvador, El Salvador. Zadick (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) has made excellent progress recently and will be in the hunt to make his third World Team. He competes at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. in freestyle wrestling.

Marano (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) came back strong last year to win a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Marano came up short of making the 2004 Olympic Team and 2005 World Team after winning the 2003 World title. She looks dominant once again and won the U.S. Nationals. Marano will be the No. 1 seed for the World Team Trials. Her whopping total of eight World medals is the most of any women's wrestler in American history.

Smith, who finished second to Marano at the U.S. Nationals, was a World champion just two years ago. Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) has pieced together a strong season this year.

Byers has made the last two World Teams in Greco-Roman at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., but was upset at the U.S. Nationals before he rebounded in dominating fashion to place third. Byers, a 2002 World champion, still has to be considered a legitimate threat to win a World gold medal. Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) won the Dave Schultz Memorial International earlier this season and was named Outstanding Wrestler.

Henson, a 2006 World bronze medalist in freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs., has wrestled just one match this year after coming off an injury. He's not expected to compete at the World Team Trials, but is eligible to enter. Henson (Flintstone, Ga./Sunkist Kids) won a World title in 1998 and won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Cross looked impressive in placing third in freestyle at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in February, but he did not compete at the U.S. Nationals last month. If the 39-year-old Cross is able to drop down to 60 kg/132 lbs., he still is a dangerous wrestler with big-move capability.

Tickets for the U.S. World Team Trials are still available and can be purchased by calling 866-388-FANS (3267) or online at USAWrestlingLasVegas.com. Tickets also can be purchased at the event.
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