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Mangrum beats Russell in battle of champs, Nowry & Taylor win double titles in Junior Freestyle Nationals




Fargo Special Section

FARGO, N.D. - A pair of returning champions, Mike Mangrum of Washington beat Kellen Russell of New Jersey in the 140-pound finals at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals in freestyle on Thursday.

Mangrum won the first period, 2-1, scoring a takedown with about 10 seconds left to take the period. In the second period, after taking a 1-0 lead, Mangrum scored a three-point takedown and held Russell for an additional exposure point to win the period 5-0.

Mangrum won the 125-pound title last year, while Russell was the champion at 130 pounds. Mangrum did a series of back flips and roundoffs like a gymnast on the center mat in celebration of his victory.

"Everything is different this year, but everything was also the same," said Mangrum about his repeat title. "My training has been the same, but you never know what to expect going into such a tough tournament."

Mangrum, who will be a senior in the fall at Auburn Riverside High School, was motivated to dominate in freestyle after falling short of his goals in the Greco-Roman tournament.

"I was mad after placing fifth in Greco-Roman. I decided to beat my opponents to a pulp and win it all," said Mangrum.

Winning double titles this weekend, as champions in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle divisions, were Max Nowry of Illinois at 98 pounds and David Taylor of Ohio (105).

Nowry defeated Cody Pack of California, 1-0, 1-0 to win the freestyle title, in a rematch of Monday's Greco-Roman finals. He won a leg clinch after a score-less first period, then scored the only takedown in the second period for the win.

Taylor defeated Mark Rappo of Pennsylvania in a competitive three-period war. Taylor won the first period 4-0, but was taken down for three points in the second period, which went to Rappo, 4-2. Once again, Rappo was able to get a three-point move on Taylor in the third period. Taylor battled back to tie the score at 3-3, and won the match with a takedown with 35 seconds to go.

It was the second straight year that Taylor had won a double title in Fargo. He won both freestyle and Greco-Roman titles at the 2006 Cadet Nationals. He had beaten Rappo in the Cadet National freestyle finals last year as well.

"The Junior level is much tougher than the Cadet level," said Taylor. "Everybody is very good, and very mature. They are all talented kids. This is very tough."

No athlete was able to win the Junior Triple Crown during the first year of its existance. This award will go to an athlete who wins USA Wrestling Junior National titles in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman in the same year. The first Junior Folkstyle Nationals was held in Iowa in April.

It was an amazingly difficult year for returning champions. Eight past Junior Nationals champions entered the tournament. Only four of them qualified for the gold-medal finals. And when it was over, only two returning champions were able to win and become two-time winners, Mangrum and Dom Bradley of Missouri at 285 pounds.

Bradley controlled the match in the finals, defeating Eric Thompson of Iowa in two straight periods, 2-0, 3-0. Bradley scored two points in the first period, then kept the pressure on in the second period for three takedowns. He will be attending the Univ. of Missouri in the fall.

"It was pretty tough," said Bradley. "I had a good tournament. I was very confident in everything I had. It capped off my high school career awesome. It makes me know I was best.

There were four returning champions who did not qualify for the finals: Ben Sergent of Ohio (112), Zachary Sanders of Minnesota (119), Albert White of Illinois (145) and Kirk Smith of Idaho (171). Two other returning champions were defeated in the finals, Russell and Boris Novachkov of California (125).

Nate Moore of Iowa won his first Junior National title by beating Novachkov, 1-0, 1-0. Moore won the first period on a single leg takedown. The second period ended scoreless. Moore won the flip and scored the winning takedown from the clinch.

Novachkov was a 2007 Junior Nationals Greco-Roman champion and was attempting to win a double title. He was also a 2005 Junior Nationals double champion after his sophomore year at 98 pounds.

In a rematch from the Junior Greco-Roman finals, Jason Chamberlain of Utah was able to turn the tables on Norman Richmond of Oregon with a 5-0, 4-1 victory at 135 pounds. Chamberlain scored five quick points in the first period on a takedown and two high gut wrenches. In the second period, the key move was a three-point double leg takedown with exposure. Richmond had beaten Chamberlain 5-0, 1-3, 2-1 in the Greco-Roman finals.

The battle at 112 pounds was between a pair of returning Junior Nationals runner-ups, as Jon Morrison of Illinois edged Donte Butler of Missouri in a three-period battle, 2-1, 0-1, 1-1. Morrison was second last year at 98 pounds while Butler was a runner-up at 112 pounds.

Morrison won the first period, 2-1, but Butler claimed the second with the only takedown for a 1-0 win. In the deciding third period, Butler scored first on a counter attack to lead 1-0, but Morrison got a single leg and took Butler out of bounds for a point with 10 seconds left to make it 1-1, and won the period by scoring the last point.

This was the fourth time Butler was a Junior Nationals runner-up, as he was second in both freestyle and Greco-Roman the last two years (2006 and 2007).

Illinois won the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup as the team champion, led by victories by Nowry, Morrison and Mike Benefiel at 171 pounds. Illinois had 50 points, followed by Iowa and New Jersey with 47 points, then Minnesota and Missouri with 40 points.

Benefiel had the most dominant performance in the finals when he quickly dispatched with Cody Yohn of Colorado by technical fall in two quick periods, 6-0, 7-0. Benefiel, who is headed to Northwestern in the fall, won the opening period with a fireman's carry and a gut wrench, then scored a powerful double leg takedown and a series of turns in the second period.

One of the most stunning wins of the tournament came at 152 pounds, when Sean Bilodeau of Massachusetts stunned Conrad Polz of Illinois by locking up a cradle and scoring a pin with 13 seconds left in the second period. Polz had won the first period, 4-2, and was leading 3-0 in the second period, only a few seconds away from securing the victory. Bilodeau was named Outstanding Wrestler for his amazing performance.

Bilodeau scored an amazing eight falls out of the 10 matches he had in the tournament, one of the most memorable displays of pinning prowess in recent history at the Junior Nationals. Bilodeau, a Prep School National Champion for the Brooks School, will attend Lehigh in the fall.

"I am very unconventional," said Bilodeau in describing his pin over Polz. "It was a little stack and I run it to my head. Coach Jared Frayer taught it to me a few years ago, and after working with it about 20 times or so, I got it down pretty good."

A pair of returning Junior Nationals runner-ups who were able to win the gold medal on their final try as graduated seniors claimed titles in the upper weight classes, Sonny Yohn of Colorado (189) and Jared Platt of New Jersey (215).

Yohn, who will compete for the Univ. of Minnesota, won the key positions to defeat Brodie Ambrose of Iowa.

Platt had a dominant tournament, winning all nine of his matches without allowing a single point in the meet. He won the gold-medal finals with a 4-0, 6-0 victory over 2006 Junior Nationals Greco-Roman champion Pat Mahan of Minnesota. Platt will be heading to Penn State in the fall.

Cody Gardner of Virginia, who beat Platt in the finals last year and has been his top rival in high school, did not attend this year's Junior Nationals.

"I have been nipping at the bud," said Platt. "I couldn't turn it into what I wanted. I know Cody (Gardner) was not here. I finally won and got it done."

A 2006 Cadet Nationals freestyle champion who moved up to win the Junior National gold this year was Jordan Oliver of Pennsylvania, who won a three-period nailbiter against Brian Owen of Washington, 0-1, 1-1, 1-1.

Owen won the first period on a leg clinch. Oliver both the second and third periods with last-second takedowns to win the period 1-1 by scoring the last point of the period. In the second period, he hit a double leg takedown with nine seconds left. In the third period, his winning double leg takedown was with just two seconds on the clock.

"I was losing. I had to do something. I had to do it or I would lose the match," said Oliver of his winning takedown.

At 145 pounds, 2005 Cadet Nationals champion Mario Mason of New Jersey defeated 2007 Junior Nationals Greco-Roman champion Jake Deitchler of Minnesota, 2-0, 2-3, 2-1. Deitchler had also been the Junior Nationals freestyle runner-up in 2006.

Mason won the first period on two takedowns, but Deitchler used a crotch lift to take the second period, 3-2. In the deciding third period, with the score tied at 1-1 but Deitchler ahead on criteria, Mason scored a late takedown for the 2-1 win.

Scott Winston of New Jersey defeated Scott Bullins of North Carolina at 160 pounds, 1-0, 1-0. He scored a takedown in each period to get the victory. With Mason, Winston and Platt on the victory stand, New Jersey's three individual champions tied with Illinois for the most individual champions.

At 130 pounds, Colin Johnston of Pennsylvania won a tight three-period battle over Mark Weber of Michigan, 2-0, 0-1, 2-0. In the deciding third period, Johnston scored two takedowns for the margin of victory.

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