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|WORLD TEAM TRIALS NOTES: Olympian Wood seeks return to top; Adams enters wrestling and Grappling on same day|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The 2004 year was one to remember for Oscar Wood of the U.S. Army. After many years of competing in Greco-Roman on the national level and placing near the top of the standings a few times, Wood claimed a U.S. Nationals title at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. then beat 2000 Olympian Kevin Bracken to capture a position on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.
Wood's run fell short at the Athens Olympic Games, when he was defeated in three matches in his pool to athletes from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan.
Since then, Wood has not been able to climb back to the top at a very loaded 66 kg/145.5 lbs. division. He has not been anywhere near the finals of the U.S. Nationals since, placing seventh, fourth and fifth the last three years.
After the morning session at the United States Marines U.S. World Team Trials in Las Vegas, Wood's prospects for coming back to dominance took a big step forward.
Wood, seeded eighth in the tournament, opened with a 6-0, 6-0 technical fall over Marco Lara of the New York AC/USOEC. In the quarterfinals, he then defeated his teammate and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, U.S. Nationals champion Glenn Garrison, 3-2, 1-1.
Wood works out often with Garrison, and has wrestled him a number of previous times in major event. According to Wood, his record is 2-3 now against Garrison.
"He's the same as everybody else, somebody in the way of what each individual tries to do. We are training partners, almost every day. You have to just go out and wrestle," said Wood.
Wood will face No. 5 seed Jacob Curby of the Gator WC/USOEC in the Challenge Tournament semifinals. Wood understands that the win against Garrison doesn't mean things will get any easier moving forward.
"That doesn't mean anything. You have two more good strong competitors. Whether you are in a championship or consolation match at 66 kg, you have a tough match."
Wood feels good that things may be turning around in his performance, and truly believes he can recapture the magic from the 2004 season.
"I am getting a lot more enjoyment in practice. That goes a long way. It is hard to be a warrior with a wife and four kids. I've learned to deal with them both, to be a warrior and a daddy," he said.
Wood turns 32 in a few days, but feels that he can compete at the highest levels again during the next two years leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
"As long as I stay healthy, I can compete. I love wrestling, and am loving it more. I have re-seen the beauty of wrestling,"said Wood.
Adams competes in freestyle and Grappling on the same day
Tori Adams has been a nationally ranked women's freestyle wrestlers for a number of years, with a Junior World bronze medal in her trophy case as well as qualifying for past Women's national teams.
She also has been training and competing in the sport of Grappling for a few seasons, something to do. When FILA announced that Grappling was a form of wrestling, USA Wrestling decided to add the Grappling Trials alongside the tournament alongside the World Team Trials in the Olympic styles.
Adams decided to give both events a try. Her major goal is to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in women's wrestling, but she also has an interest and goals in Grappling.
"I have been Grappling for a little bit, and have gone to a few tournaments," said Adams. "When FILA adopted it, I felt it would be cool to compete at the World Team Trials. But I wish they weren't held on the same day."
Adams is coached in both styles by former Greco-Roman Team USA member Keith Wilson, who also entered the Grappling Tournament on Saturday. The final event schedule had Adams' weight classes in both styles held on the same day.
"We were hoping they were going to split up the weight classes," said Wilson. "If she feels tired, we will drop out of the Grappling tournament. But she would like to make the finals in both styles."
Wilson and Adams are involved in a business with some partners running Tool Shed, an MMA fighting gym in the Colorado Springs area. There are as many as 35 people currently training in the facility, where both Wilson and Adams serve as instructors.
"I don't think it is a distraction," said Adams of competing in both sports. "Grappling on your feet is the same as wrestling on your feet. On the ground, it improves my ability to scramble on the mat."
As fate would have it, she had to go right from her quarterfinal wrestling match to her quarterfinal Grappling match.
In her women's freestyle match, Adams defeated Bethany Harris of the Univ. of Cumberlands, 1-0, 2-0. She quickly changed her uniform from a singlet to Grappling gear, then stopped Kelsey Campbell of American Pankration in the first bout of the Grappling session, 7-4.
Adams had another Grappling match shortly after, dropping a 7-4 bout in the semifinals to veteran star Tara LaRosa. The bout was tied at 2-2, when LaRosa scored a five-point move on the mat for a big lead. Adams battled back for a two-point takedown later in the bout, but was unable to score again. The quest for two golds fell short.
"(LaRosa) is the best MMA fighter in the nation," said Wilson. "This was a good match for Tori. I believe Tori can beat her the next time. That girl should win this tournament."
Adams still has her focus on winning a spot on the U.S. World Team in freestyle wrestling, where she is having one of her best seasons in a number of years. Adams placed third at the U.S. Nationals in April, her best finish since 2002 when she also won the bronze medal at the nationals.
"Everybody wants to say I have been inconsistent," said Adams. "I have been fighting a disease, something that causes overall body fatigue. I am on new meds now, and I'm feeling much better."
Adams feels that she has both the conditioning and the mental toughness to excel in both styles, even if they are held the same day.
"My condition is where it usually is," said Adams. "With the way my body feels now, I know how to relax. If you are stressed, the nerves take over and your conditioning goes out the window. You have to have fun out there. You never know when it will be taken away."