|Five champions crowned on first day of U.S. Grappling World Team Trials|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
LAS VEGAS, NEV. - USA Wrestling held its first Grappling World Team Trials at the Convention Center on Saturday. Five weight classes were contested, three for men and two for women. The competition was intense, with high quality action and skilled contestants in each weight class.
The event served as the qualifying competition for the U.S. team which will compete in the World Wrestling Games in Antalya, Turkey in September.
At 70 kg/154 lbs., Ricky Lundell (Pedro Sauer Team) defeated Jeff Glover (Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu), 3-2. Glover scored the first takedown to lead 2-0, but Lundell rebounded by getting a one-point escape and a late takedown for the win.
"I feel I competed the best I have ever done," said Lundell, who lives in Orem, Utah. "Today was my day. My opponents, especially my finals one, were outstanding. My finals opponent is one of the best of all time. My coach Brandon Guzzo made this happen. My last mentor, Pedro Sauer, was also a part of this. The only adverse thing was, that I got my eye busted in the semifinal, which made it harder to win. I can't believe I have an opportunity to represent my nation."
Glover qualified for this tournament by winning a gold medal at the World Grappling Games Pan Am Submission Championships. Lundell qualified by taking a silver medal at Grapplers Quest U.S. Pro Trials.
At 80 kg/176 lbs., Don Ortega (No Limits) upset Bill Cooper (Paragon BJJ Academy), 2-1. Ortega scored the only takedown, with Cooper getting an escape.
"I felt real good," said Ortega, who is from Albuqueque, N.M. "I didn't know what to expect. It was a good experience. This is good for grappling and good for wrestling. I was trying to stay solid and not give him any opportunities. It is awesome to go to the World Championships. I dreamed about it with wrestling as a kid, but I never got there. Now I get to go with this.
Ortega has a strong wrestling background, competing at Adams State Univ. He has also competed and studied jiu jitsu for a number of years.
Of all the competitors in the field, Cooper won the most of the qualifying events coming in, winning the Grapplers Quest U.S. Pro Trials, the World Grappling Games Best of the West and the Grapplers Quest U.S. Pro Trials. Ortega was a champion at the USA Wrestling Irvine, Calif. Qualifier.
At 92 kg/202.5 lbs., the champion was Malcom Havens (Grapplers Edge), who stopped Matt Horwich (Team Quest), 4-1. Havens had two takedowns, and Horwich scored an escape in the bout.
"I want to say I am a wrestler," said Havens, who is from Parker, Colo. "My submissions are not so good. I take control on my feet and stay out of the submissions. It isn't pretty, but I gets me in the win column. I have to thank God for putting me in the position to make the World Championships. I'll give it everything I have got."
Havens was a Div. I starting wrestler for three years at the Univ. of Wyoming. Havens qualified for the competition by taking a bronze medal at USA Wrestling's Virginia Beach Qualifer. Horwich competes for the Portland Wolfpack of the International Fight League, and qualified for the tournament by winning the USA Wrestling Olympia, Wash. Qualifier.
In the Women's division, Lisa Ward (United Fight Team) won a three-athlete roundrobin to capture the 48 kg/105.5 lbs. weight class. In her first match, she scored a submission over Hillary Witt of Saulo Ribiero B. In her final bout, she stopped Van Milnes (unattached), 4-1.
"I am in MMA, which is my forte," said Ward, who lives in Lacy, Wash. "This is just play for me. It was awesome. I competed crappy, but it was enough to win. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to do this."
Ward has been a USA Wrestling All-American in women's freestyle wrestling in the past. She qualified for the tournament with a silver medal performance at the USA Wrestling Olympia, Wash. qualifier.
At 55 kg/121 lbs., Felicia Oh (JJ Machado/BJMUTA) scored a submission at 2:35 with an arm triangle over Bahar Shamidi (Grapplers Edge). Oh was leading 5-2 when she locked up the winning move for the tapout.
"I am really excited to have this competition," said Oh, who is from Tarzana, Calif. "It is exciting to grapple at this level. It is a great experience for me. The competition brings athletes from all levels, wrestling, sombo, jiu jitsu. It brings an edge to everything. It forces us to be more rounded and to be better grapplers. The girls were tough. It was a different toughness. I think it is an amazing opportunity to make the World Team. I will be so proud to be able to represent my country. It is really unbelievable.
Oh has been competing in jiu jitsu for almost seven years. Both of the finalists qualified for the event by winning a USA Wrestling sanctioned qualifier. Oh won the Irvine, Calif. Qualifier and Shamidi won the Virginia Beach, Va. qualifier.