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|Monson beats Vetell, as final four weights are contested at U.S. Grappling World Team Trials|
By Gary Abbott
LAS VEGAS, NEV. - USA Wrestling completed its first Grappling World Team Trials at the Convention Center on Sunday. Four weight classes were contested, two each for men and women.
This event determines the U.S. team which will compete in the first World Wrestling Games in Antalya, Turkey in September.
The headline bout of the day occurred at 125 kg/275 lbs., a close battle between two athletes who have a strong background Mixed Martial Arts.
Jeff Monson (Victory Athletics) edged Bryan Vetell (Renzo Gracie), 2-1. The bout was scoreless until the last minute of action, when Monson scored a takedown and Vetell earned an escape. Vetell was not able to score in the closing seconds.
Jeff Monson, who is from Olympia, Wash. has an extensive Mixed Martial Arts career, with a record of 24-5 including a number of UFC fights. Monson was a Div. I wrestler at Oregon State and at the Univ. of Illinois, and was a Pac-10 champion. He also competed on the Senior level in USA Wrestling events for a number of years.
Vetell competes for New York Pitbulls of the International Fight League. He is a graduate of Hofstra University.
"Wrestling is my first love," said Monson. "I am really excited to see that FILA is overseeing Grappling and giving unity to the sport. Now I think the sport will grow. I want to promote this sport. I competed at the U.S. Nationals a number of times in wrestling and I wanted to come back."
"Grappling helps my MMA. I wasn't able to make it to the Abu Dhabi Worlds this year because of an injury, so going to Turkey is my redemption," said Monson.
Monson qualified to compete by winning the Grapplers Quest U.S. Nationals. Vetell qualified to compete here by winning the USA Wrestling Virginia Beach Qualifier.
At 62 kg/136.5 lbs. in the men's division, Darin Uyenoyama (Fogtown Jiu Jitsu) scored a strong 10-4 decision over Simpson Go (Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu). Uyenoyama scored two takedowns, a reversal and a side mount during the match.
"Today was the highest achievement of my life. The biggest part for me is to be on the same mats as my wrestling heroes. Kendall Cross and Tom Brands were out there. Seeing John Smith made me a little star struck," said Uyenoyama.
Uyenoyama qualified for the field by winning the World Grappling Games Best of West title. Go qualified for the event by winning the Grapplers Quest U.S. Nationals. Uyenoyama, who lives in San Francisco, has a wrestling background, competing two years at Skyline Junior College in California.
"I honestly think it was the podium we were put up on," said Uyenoyama of his outstanding finals effort. "USA Wrestling gave us this opportunity. I wanted to meet the expectations and put on a good fight. I'd love to compete in the World Championships. I think at 62 kg, I am looking for somebody to give me a war. I'd travel anywhere to find that."
In the Women's division at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Tara LaRosa (unattached) defeated Ginele Marquez-Lee (Victory Athletics) by submission, with a rear naked choke at 3:20. LaRosa led 10-0 after just over a minute, with a takedown, a three-point side mount and a five-point back mount.
"I did really well," said LaRose, who is from Woodstown, N.J. "Tori Adams (her semifinal rival) is an incredible opponent. I knew she came from a strong wrestling background. I had to find a way to compensate for that. She is very tough. I had a lot respect for her."
LaRosa won two of the qualifying events for the World Team Trials, the USA Wrestling Virginia Beach Qualifier as well as the NAGA World Championships. Marquez won the USA Wrestling Olympia, Wash. Qualifier
"I love USA Wrestling and the organization here. I am so honored and thrilled to be here, and to be with some of the greatest athletes in the world in wrestling. I am so excited to represent my country. My boyfriend is now serving in Iraq," said LaRosa.
At 72 kg/158.5 lbs.,Valerie Worthington (New Breed/Hollywood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) scored a submission over Elaina Maxwell (unattached) in 2:26. She scored a takedown and a side mount to lead 5-0, and Maxwell tapped out when Worthington executed a dars choke.
"I have amazing teachers. I am so grateful for them. You can't do something like this without them supporting you. I appreciate what they do for me," said Worthington.
Worthington, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif., qualified through the World Grappling Games Pan Am Submission Championships. Maxwell qualified to compete here by placing second at the World Grappling Games Best of West.
"I used to run marathons. I got addicted to pushing myself physically. Jiu Jitsu could keep me competing for years. This is unbelievable. I am so grateful. I was happy that FILA recognized Grappling. I feel the two styles have so much to teach each other. Everybody who grapples is so happy that it is being recognized as a mainstream sport," said Worthington.
More information on the World Wrestling Games in Antalya, Turkey and the U.S. team will be forthcoming. It was a historic weekend for the sport of Grappling and for USA Wrestling.
2007 U.S. GRAPPLING WORLD TEAM TRIALS CHAMPIONS
62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Darin Uyenoyama, San Francisco, Calif. (Fogtown Jiu Jitsu)
70 kg/154 lbs. - Ricky Lundell, Orem, Utah (Pedro Sauer Team)
80 kg/176 lbs. - Don Ortega, Albuquerque, N.M. (No Limits)
92 kg/202.5 lbs., - Malcom Havens, Parker, Colo. (Grapplers Edge)
125 kg/275 lbs. - Jeff Monson, Olympia, Wash. (Victory Athletics)
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Lisa Ward, Lacy, Wash. (United Fight Team)
55 kg/121 lbs. - ¨Felicia Oh, Tarzana, Calif. (JJ Machado/BJMUTA)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Tara LaRosa, Woodstown, N.J. (unattached)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Valerie Worthington, Los Angeles, Calif. (New Breed/Hollywood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)