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Junior World champion Bubba Jenkins makes return with win at University Nationals



Bubba Jenkins (right) battles Tyler Nauman in the freestyle finals. Photo by Kevin Schlosser, Buckeyewrestling.com

AKRON, Ohio " Bubba Jenkins walked off the mat early Sunday afternoon, grinning from ear-to-ear.

“I got me another stop sign,” Jenkins said.

The 2007 Junior World champion and 2008 NCAA runner-up for Penn State was clutching another USA Wrestling championship plaque after winning a University Nationals freestyle title.

Jenkins, a surprise entry into the event, outlasted University of Pittsburgh All-American Tyler Nauman 3-1, 0-1, 3-0 in the finals at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Jenkins was named Outstanding Wrestler.

“I needed a little challenge mentally,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrestling-wise, so I started training hard again and decided to jump in here to see how I could do. I’m back now. I felt great out here this weekend.”

Jenkins is back in the wrestling spotlight again. He won the 2007 Junior Worlds in Beijing, China, in the same facility where the Olympics were held a year later. He followed that up by placing second in the 2008 NCAAs in St. Louis.

But Jenkins failed to place at the NCAAs in 2009 after struggling with back problems. He redshirted this past season at Penn State, but is no longer with the Nittany Lion program.

He has one year of college eligibility left.

“I am leaning toward Arizona State,” Jenkins said. “They are in the lead. I’m thinking about heading West to go out there.”

Jenkins said he is unsure if he will pursue freestyle wrestling or mixed martial arts in the future. His immediate goals involve winning an NCAA title in 2011.

“I’m so hungry to win a national title in college,” Jenkins said. “I’m going to do everything I can to win a championship next year. It would mean a lot to win it, especially after everything I’ve been through. It was my ultimate goal in college.”

Penn State wrestler David Taylor returned to his home state and turned in a dominant performance to win the title at 70 kg/154 lbs. Taylor swept Oklahoma’s Matt Lester 3-0, 5-1 in the finals.

Taylor has come a long way since he arrived in State College to wrestle for Penn State.

“Making the adjustment to college wrestling was tough,” said Taylor, who redshirted this past season. “In the beginning, I took some beatings " some bad beatings. Now I’m starting to return those. It’s making me better and I’m making them better.

“I’ve continued to work hard and address the areas I need to work on. I’m getting stronger and more physical.”

Taylor said he will compete in the FILA Junior Nationals in two weeks in Cleveland.

“This is my last chance in FILA Juniors,” Taylor said. “I want to make the team and win Junior Worlds. I will move up to 163 and battle those guys.”

Past Junior World Team member Tyler Graff looked impressive in winning the title at 60 kg/132 lbs. Graff blanked Old Dominion’s Kyle Hutter 4-0, 3-0 in the finals.

“I’m working real hard and trying some new things. I’m trying to get better " that’s why I’m here,” said Graff, who placed fifth in the 2010 NCAAs as a freshman for Wisconsin. “Seeing somebody else winning my weight class (at NCAAs) is pretty motivating as well. I’m definitely hungry. I need to keep improving every day.”

Central Michigan All-American Jarod Trice became a double University champion after downing Columbia’s Kevin Lester 0-1, 2-0, 4-1 in the finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Trice won University Nationals in Greco-Roman on Friday.

The top two finishers in the seven Olympic weight classes qualify for June’s U.S. World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

UNIVERSITY NATIONALS FREESTYLE " FINALS RESULTS

55 kg/121 lbs.
Frank Perrelli (Cornell) dec. Jon Morrison (Oklahoma State), 1-2, 1-0, 3-1

60 kg/132 lbs.
Tyler Graff (NYAC) dec. Kyle Hutter (Monarch Wrestling Club), 4-0, 3-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Dan White (Unattached) dec. Mark Ballweg (Hawkeye WC), 1-0, 1-0

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Bubba Jenkins (Sunkist Kids) dec. Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh WC), 3-1, 0-1, 3-0

70 kg/154 lbs.
David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Matt Lester (Oklahoma), 3-0, 5-1

74 kg/163 lbs.
Colt Sponseller (Ohio State) dec. Ethen Lofthouse (Hawkeye WC), 0-1, 1-0, 4-0

79 kg/174 lbs.
Luke Manuel (Purdue Unattached) dec. Austin Meys (Lehigh Valley AC), 2-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs.
Quentin Wright (Nittany Lion WC) pinned Doug Umbehauer (Unattached), 0:22

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Sonny Yohn (Minnesota Storm) dec. Jared Platt (Nittany Lion WC), 1-0, 4-0

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Jarod Trice (CMRTC) dec. Kevin Lester (Columbia) 0-1,2-0,4-1

TRUE SECOND-PLACE MATCHES

60 kg/132 lbs.
Kyle Hutter (Monarch WC) dec. Steve Mytych (Drexel), 7-4, 3-3

84 kg/185 lbs.
Doug Umbehauer (unattached) dec. Jordan Blanton (Illinois), 7-0, 5-1

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Jared Platt (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Brent Jones (Cavalier WC), 2-0, 6-0

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Kevin Lester (Columbia) pinned Ryan Tomei (Pittsburgh WC), 0:21
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