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Conder and Padilla qualify for Junior World women's finals

BEIJING, CHINA - Two U.S. women, Whitney Conder (Payallup, Wash./USOEC) at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. and Tatiana Padilla, LaVerne, Calif. (California Grapplers) at 59 kg/130 lbs. have qualified for the gold medal match at the Junior World Championships on Thursday.

The United States had a very strong opening session, winning nine matches and losing only two.

Padilla won three matches to qualify for the finals, where she will face Lin Songni of China.

Her biggest win came in the quarterfinals, where she pinned 2006 Junior World champion Larisa Kanaeva of Russia in the second period, 1-0, 1:52. Padilla won the first period, 1-0. In the second period, Kanaeva was leading 3-0, when the athletes got into a scramble on the mat. Padilla stepped over a Kaneava move, and pinned Kanaeva at the 1:52 mark of the second period.

In the opening round, Padilla stopped Sona Ahmadi of Azerbaijan, 4-3, 2-0. After beating Kanaeva, Padilla was able to advance to the finals by stopping K. Dombrovska of Ukraine, 0-6, 2-0, 4-0. Dombroska dominated the first period with a technical fall, but Padilla bounced back and took over the match in the final two periods.

Padilla was the 2007 High School Girls Wrestler of the Year in the United States. She has won three ASICS Junior Nationals title, and enters her senior year of high school in the fall.

Conder, who is a member of the U.S. Olympic Education Program women's team at Northern Michigan Univ., also had three victories on the way to the finals. Conder defeated Li Xiao of China in the semifinals, 1-0, 3-2, the only match that China lost in the session. Conder will face Kumari Babita of India in the gold-medal match on Thursday night.

She opened with a victory over Osocka Dominika Poland, 4-1, 6-1, then won her second match by a pin in the second period over Maryna Milevskaya of Belarus, 3-1, 1:58.

Amy Whitbeck (Duanesburg, N.Y./Team New York) advanced to the semifinals at 44 kg/97 lbs., where she was defeated by Elena Gnatenko of Russia, 0-4, 1-7. Whitbeck will compete in a bronze-medal match on Thursday night, against an opponent to be determined from the wrestleback rounds.

Her session included wins over Huang Chen-Yu of Taipei, 5-0. 6-0 and Rehina Yarova of Ukraine, 4-0, 2-0.

The only U.S. wrestler to be eliminated from medal contention was Erin Clodgo (Richmond, Vermont/USOEC) at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.

Clodgo defeated Desire Smith of South Africa, 1-0, 4-0 in her first match. In the quarterfinals, she was pinned by Laura Skujina of Latvia in 1:49. When Skujina was defeated in the semifinals, Clodgo was not eligible for the wrestleback rounds. Only athletes who lose to a finalist are entered in the wrestlebacks for the bronze medals.

China placed three athletes in the finals, losing only one bout in the session. In a shocking development, traditional power Japan, which was second at the 2006 Junior World Championships, lost all four of their matches in the session.

Junior World Championships
At Beijing, China, August 23

U.S. performances in the first session

44 kg/97 lbs. - Amy Whitbeck, Duanesburg, N.Y. (Team New York)
WIN Huang Chen-Yu (Taipei), 5-0. 6-0
WIN Rehina Yarova (Ukraine), 4-0, 2-0
LOSS Elena Gnatenko (Russia), 0-4, 1-7

51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Whitney Conder, Payallup, Wash. (USOEC)
WIN Osocka Dominika (Poland), 4-1, 6-1
WIN Maryna Milevskaya (Belarus), pin 3-1, 1:58
WIN Li Xiao (China), 1-0, 3-2

59 kg/130 lbs. - Tatiana Padilla, LaVerne, Calif. (California Grapplers)
WIN Sona Ahmadi (Azerbaijan), 4-3, 2-0
WIN Larisa Kanaeva (Russia), pin 1-0, 1:52
WIN K. Dombrovska (Ukraine), 0-6, 2-0, 4-0

67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Erin Clodgo, Richmond, Vermont (USOEC)
WIN Desire Smith (South Africa), 1-0, 4-0
LOSS Laura Skujina (Latvia), pin 1:49
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