By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Spenser Mango of the New York AC has been the dominant competitor at 55 kg/121 lbs. over the last three seasons. Mango competed in both the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2009 World Championships, but still seeks his first medal on the World level. Mango retained his top spot in the rankings by winning the U.S. Open in Cleveland in April, his second career national title. He is a past University World Champion and Junior World medalist. When he is wrestling well, Mango has an explosive offense and often executes high amplitude throws.
Placing second behind Mango in Cleveland was the 2009 U.S. Open champion Jermaine Hodge of the U.S. Army. Hodge also won the Armed Forces Championships this year. Like Mango, he is very big at 55 kg and offers a tremendous challenge to his opponents physically.
2006 World bronze medalist Lindsey Durlacher of the New York AC could be a top challenger here. Durlacher went up to 60 kg for the U.S. Open, but a week later was back down at 55 kg at the Pan American Championships. His experience and skill allowed him to make three straight World Teams from 2005-2007.
Spenser Mango’s younger brother Ryan Mango of the New York AC placed third at the U.S. Open. He was also a strong third at the World Team Trials last year. He just completed his freshman year at Stanford, where he was a NCAA qualifier. Ryan was tremendously successful in Greco-Roman in USA Wrestling’s age-group programs, and has transferred that success to the Senior level.
Max Nowry of the New York AC was fourth at the U.S. Open, and also won the title at the 2010 University Nationals. Nowry has made progress since joining the USOEC program in Northern Michigan, but he is still a bit undersized at 55 kg. He also has much age-group Greco-Roman success.
Also qualifying for the World Team Trials by placing in the top seven at the U.S. Open were Paul Tellgren of the Minnesota Storm in fifth, Nikko Triggas of the Ohio RTC in sixth and Kevin Hunter from Utah in seventh. Tellgren has shown improvement as part of the USOEC program in recent seasons. Triggas was a NCAA All-American for Ohio State this year, and has won two University Nationals Greco-Roman titles.
Sunkist Kids International champion Nate Engel of the Sunkist Kids has also qualified here. Engel was fourth at the 2009 U.S. Open and has considerable international experience.
High school star Jesse Thielke of the Ringers, a member of the 2009 Junior World Team, qualified for the World Team Trials by winning the Northern Plains Regional. Claiming the title at the Northeast Regionals and qualifying for Council Bluffs is Mike Pena of the U.S. Marines. Rounding out the field at 55 kg/121 lbs. is University Nationals runner-up Tyler Erdman of the Modern Day Gladiators, who was second in the 2010 NCAA Div. III Nationals for Elizabethtown College.
Spenser Mango enters the World Team Trials as a decided favorite, but challenges from Jermaine Hodge, Lindsey Durlacher and others should make this weight class quite interesting in Council Bluffs.
2010 U.S. Open results at 55 kg/121 lbs. in Greco-Roman
1st - Spenser Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC) dec. Jermaine Hodge, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 0-1, 1-0, 2-0
3rd - Ryan Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC) dec. Max Nowry, Wheeling, Ill. (New York AC), 3-1,6-0
5th - Paul Tellgren, Anoka, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) dec. Nikko Triggas, Moraga, Calif. (Ohio Regional Training Center), 1-0, 1-0
7th - Kevin Hunter, Orem, Utah (Unattached) dec. David Armstrong, Cleveland, Ohio (Cleveland WC), 1-0, 8-1
World Team Trials qualifiers at 55 kg/121 pounds in Greco-Roman
U.S. Open Champion – Spenser Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC)
U.S. Open, second place – Jermaine Hodge, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army),
U.S. Open, third place - Ryan Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC)
U.S. Open, fourth place – Max Nowry, Wheeling, Ill. (New York AC),
U.S. Open, fifth place – Paul Tellgren, Anoka, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
U.S. Open, sixth place - Nikko Triggas, Moraga, Calif. (Ohio Regional Training Center),
U.S. Open, seventh place – Kevin Hunter, Orem, Utah (Unattached)
Northeast Regional Trials Champion – Mike Pena, Jacksonville, N.C. (U.S. Marine Corps)
Northern Plains Trials Champion – Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (Ringers)
Past U.S. World Team member – Lindsey Durlacher, Colorado Springs, Colo (New York AC)
Sunkist Kids International champion - Nate Engel, St. Helena, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
University Nationals Runner-up – Tyler Erdman, Herndon, Pa. (Modern Day Gladiators)