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World Champion Marano takes an untypical Las Vegas family vacation



What does a Women's World Champion do for her final preparations prior to the U.S. National Wrestling Championships?

For Kristie Marano, the day before weigh-ins this year was spent helping coach her younger brothers at the USA Wrestling Western Junior Greco-Roman Championships.

They say that wrestling is a family sport, and the Stenglein family of Albany, N.Y. is a perfect example. Kristie, whose maiden name is Stenglein, is part of the family effort here in Las Vegas.

Her brothers Matt Stenglein, a high school senior, and Josh Stenglein, a sophomore, were entered in the Junior Regionals. Kristie and her father Conrad were busy working the corner as coaches, and giving support and advice to the boys. It's a safe bet that the Stenglein brothers were the only athletes in the Junior tournament with a reigning World Champion helping as a coach.

"We made this a family vacation," said Kristie. "There's no sightseeing. And there is no laying out by the pool."

The Stenglein family is a talented group of wrestlers. Matt was fourth in the New York High School Championships this year, and will wrestle next season for Div. III powerhouse Brockport State. Josh was second in the tough Section II tournament, and is expected to continue to improve.

The Stenglein brothers are also very good at international style wrestling, just like their sister. Josh is competing at 132 pounds here, and Matt is at 143 pounds. A week ago, they were in the same weight class at the Northeast Regionals. Both boys lost a match early in the Western Regionals in Greco-Roman, but remain in contention for a medal here.

Kristie Marano is not sure how prepared she is going into the U.S. Nationals this year. After claiming the No. 1 position in the nation in a Special Wrestle-off against 1999 World Champion Sandra Bacher in Phoenix in November, Kristie has not competed due to an injury. She has been working out hard in recent weeks.

Although she is the reigning World Champion, Marano has something to prove this week in Las Vegas.

"I want to come back and win it this year, because I lost here last year," she said.

Marano won four World silver medals at 165.25 pounds, but dropped to 149.75 pounds last year. She was defeated in the 2000 U.S. Nationals finals by Bacher.

When Bacher chose not to try out for the World Team in order to compete at the Sydney Olympics in judo, Marano went to the Worlds for the United States and came back as the World Champion. In November, Marano pinned Bacher twice to claim the No. 1 position in the nation, in a wrestle-off that was delayed until after the World Championships and Olympics.

Marano was named the 2000 USA Wrestling Women's Wrestler of the Year yesterday. She was pleased with her season last year, becoming only the third U.S. Women's World Champion.

"It could have been the weight change that made the difference," said Marano. "It was the most prepared I have ever been for a World Championships. I feel comfortable at this weight class. I only weigh about 152 pounds now, and by working out every day, I stay at this weight."

Kristie prefers staying at her new weight class, even though it is one of the best in the nation, with Bacher and young talent Toccara Montgomery among the top challengers.

Besides coaching her brothers, Kristie had a workout scheduled for between sessions of the Junior Regionals. Her brothers and a few of the other high school wrestlers from the club are available to drill with her here. She only had a kilo to get off before weigh ins, and wanted to get in a little more work before the tournament.

Josh works out with Kristie back at home, and appreciates having her support at this tournament. It is the first time that both brothers will be competing in a Junior Regional on the same weekend that their sister is wrestling at the U.S. Nationals. Josh says that he is good on the bottom, which helps Kristie, and that his sister helps him with the top position. Josh wouldn't say how well he does when he spars with Kristie.

While many families in Las Vegas this weekend will be spending time out in the sun, visiting the many sites of Fun City, the Stenglein will be inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, working out and wrestling. A perfect family vacation for everybody.
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