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Howe, Sigman among surprise champions at U.S. Open



Andrew Howe takes control against Trent Paulson in the finals. Larry Slater photo.

CLEVELAND ��" Andrew Howe is just 20 years old.

He still has two years of college eligibility left.

But Howe showed the poise of a proven veteran in the U.S. Open finals on Saturday night at Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center.

Howe shook off a 7-0 first-period loss to Trent Paulson before storming back to prevail in the next two periods 1-0, 6-2 in the freestyle finals at 74 kg/163 lbs.

“I’ve put a lot of time in,” said Howe, a 2009 Junior World bronze medalist. “I’m constantly trying to get better and it’s paying off for me. I’m wrestling really well right now. I need to keep making improvements and I’m looking forward to hopefully making the World Team in June.”

Howe won the U.S. Open just one month and four days after capturing his first NCAA title for the University of Wisconsin. Howe was named Outstanding Wrestler in freestyle.

He beat Trent Paulson’s twin, Travis, in the semifinals. Both Paulsons won this event last year. Trent won at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Travis at 74 kilos. Trent went on to make the 2009 World Team.

Howe was one of 21 champions crowned on Saturday night. Seven champions each were crowned in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle.

Howe now advances to the best-of-3 finals for June’s U.S. World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Paulsons are from Council Bluffs.

U.S. Open champions in freestyle and women’s freestyle advance to the finals of the Trials. The Greco-Roman champions will be top seeds in their weight classes, but will have to advance through a tournament to reach the finals series.

The New York AC won the team title in freestyle, ending the 28-year run of titles by the Sunkist Kids. The U.S. Army won the Greco-Roman team title and the Sunkist Kids won the women’s freestyle title.

In a battle of past NCAA Division II standouts, Les Sigman rallied past returning World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev in the freestyle finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Sigman won in three periods.

Sigman had the upper hand in college when he won four DII national titles for Nebraska-Omaha. Dlagnev won two titles for Nebraska-Kearney.

Dlagnev had beaten Sigman in the finals of November’s New York AC International, but Sigman came back strong on Saturday after dropping the first period to Dlagnev.

Sigman won his third tournament of the season after earlier wins in the Hargobind and Dave Schultz international events. Sigman beat past World fifth-place finisher Tommy Rowlands in the semifinals.

“I’ve been staying healthy and getting more consistent training,” Sigman said. “I’m in the right environment now with the right people. I’ve been trying to win this tournament for the past few years, and finally everything paid off for me. I need to keep on improving on my performances.”

Olympic and World silver medalist Sara McMann dropped a three-period decision to World Team member Elena Pirozhkova in the finals at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

Pirozhkova captured her second straight U.S. Open title. McMann was seeking her seventh U.S. Open title

“She’s a great wrestler,” Pirozhkova said. “I should’ve opened up more in the third period and I was a little too cautious. She beat me in the semifinals in the (2008) Olympic Trials, but that was two years ago. She hasn’t wrestled much, and I’ve improved a lot and made two World Teams since then.”

Stephany Lee won her first U.S. Open title by downing World champion Iris Smith in the finals at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Smith was seeking her fifth title in this event.

World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz won his sixth U.S. Open title, downing John Lorenz in the Greco title bout at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Ruiz is back on the mat after taking this year off. He made World Teams in 2003, and from 2005-07, but finished second in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials.

“It was pretty rough when I didn’t make the Olympic Team in 2008,” Ruiz said. “I was really missing wrestling and I decided to give it another shot. I still feel like I have a ways to go as far as reaching my potential, but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction and making good progress.”

Olympian and World Team member Spenser Mango scored in the final seconds to down returning champion Jermaine Hodge at 55 kg/121 lbs. Mango won his second U.S. Open title in Greco-Roman.

Glenn Garrison won his second U.S. Open crown by downing 2009 World Team member Faruk Sahin in the Greco finals at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

First-time champions in Greco-Roman included Nathan Piasecki at 60 kg/132 lbs., Jake Fisher at 74 kg/163 lbs., Cheney Haight at 84 kg/185 lbs., and Brandon Rupp at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Haight was named Outstanding Wrestler in Greco-Roman.

Returning World silver medalist Jake Herbert continued his run of success by sweeping two periods from Bryce Hasseman in the freestyle finals at 84 kg/185 lbs. Herbert beat Hasseman to make the 2009 U.S. World Team. Herbert won his second straight title in this event.

World Cup Team member J.D. Bergman continued his strong season in rallying to down 2009 World Team member Jake Varner in the freestyle finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Varner won this event last year. Bergman won his first U.S. Open title.

“Wrestling overseas has definitely helped my wrestling,” Bergman said. “I’m taking a lot of steps in the right direction to reach my goals. I didn’t have a lot of matches last year because I was coming back after blowing out my knee. All the time on the mat has really paid off for me.”

World Team member Shawn Bunch won his second U.S. Open freestyle title by taking two straight periods from past World silver medalist Mike Zadick at 60 kg/132 lbs.

First-time U.S. Open winners in freestyle also included Obe Blanc at 55 kg/121 lbs., and Jared Frayer at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

World bronze medalist Tatiana Padilla swept past World Team member Helen Maroulis in a battle of talented teenagers at 55 kg/121 lbs. The 19-year-old Padilla won her first U.S. Open title in downing the 18-year-old Maroulis.

Kelsey Campbell repeated as champion after stopping Othella Lucas in the finals at 59 kg/130 lbs. Lucas had knocked off No. 1 seed Deanna Rix in the semis. Campbell was named Outstanding Wrestler in women’s freestyle.

Jessica Medina captured her second U.S. Open title at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.

First-time U.S. Open winners in women’s freestyle also included Alyssa Lampe at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., and Erin Clodgo at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.

The Big Ten Network will broadcast a two-hour show from the championship finals, with featured match coverage in all three Olympic styles: freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

There are at least three scheduled showings of this broadcast on the Big Ten Network, including next-day coverage on the debut broadcast.

The first airing will be on Sunday, April 25 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

FREESTYLE FINALS

55 kg/121 lbs.
Obe Blanc (Gator WC) dec. Angel Escobedo (New York AC), 1-0, 4-0

60 kg/132 lbs.
Shawn Bunch (Gator WC) dec. Mike Zadick (Gator WC), 3-0, 2-1

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Jared Frayer (Gator WC) dec. Josh Churella (New York AC), 0-1, 5-1, 3-2

74 kg/163 lbs.
Andrew Howe (New York AC) dec. Trent Paulson (Sunkist Kids), 0-7, 1-0, 6-2

84 kg/185 lbs.
Jake Herbert (New York AC) dec. Bryce Hasseman (New York AC), 1-0, 1-1

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
J.D. Bergman (New York AC) dec. Jake Varner (Nittany Lion WC), 0-1, 2-0, 5-0

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Les Sigman (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Tervel Dlagnev (Sunkist Kids), 3-4, 2-1, 2-0

GRECO-ROMAN FINALS

55 kg/121 lbs.
Spenser Mango (New York AC) vs. Jermaine Hodge (U.S. Army), 0-1, 1-0, 2-0

60 kg/132 lbs.
Nathan Piasecki (U.S. Army) won by injury default over Chad Vandiver (Sunkist Kids)

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Glenn Garrison (U.S. Army) dec. Faruk Sahin (U.S. Army), 0-2, 3-0, 1-0

74 kg/163 lbs.
Jake Fisher (New York AC) dec. Jess Hargrave (U.S. Army), 1-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs.
Cheney Haight (New York AC) dec. Chas Betts (Minnesota Storm), 1-0, 0-1, 2-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Justin Ruiz (New York AC) dec. John Lorenz (U.S. Army), 2-0, 1-0

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Brandon Rupp (New York AC) dec. Joe Rizqallah (Maverick WC), 4-0, 6-2

WOMEN’S FREESTYLE FINALS

48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids) won by injury default over Mary Kelly (New York AC)

51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Jessica Medina (Sunkist Kids) dec. Amy Whitbeck (New York AC), 3-0, 5-1

55 kg/121 lbs.
Tatiana Padilla (Sunkist Kids) dec. Helen Maroulis (New York AC), 5-1, 2-0

59 kg/130 lbs.
Kelsey Campbell (Sunkist Kids) dec. Othella Lucas (U.S. Army), 2-0, 1-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Elena Pirozhkova (Gator WC) dec. Sara McMann (Sunkist Kids), 0-2, 3-1, 1-0

67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Erin Clodgo (Sunkist Kids) dec. Christen Paysee (Cumberlands), 1-0, 3-2

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Stephany Lee (Sunkist Kids) dec. Iris Smith (U.S. Army), 1-0, 5-0
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