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WORLD TEAM TRIALS PREVIEW: Freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Danny Felix made his first U.S. World Team the hard way in 2009.

One of seven wild cards selected for the U.S. World Team Trials last year, Felix took full advantage of his opportunity. He won the Challenge Tournament before knocking off U.S. Nationals champion Nick Simmons in the best-of-3 final match series at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Felix will have to go through the Challenge Tournament again when the 2010 World Team Trials are held June 11-12 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Felix placed third at last month’s U.S. Open in Cleveland.

Obe Blanc won the U.S. Open and that puts him into the best-of-3 finals for this year’s Trials. He will await the winner of the Challenge Tournament at the Trials.

Angel Escobedo, second to Blanc in the Open, will be the top seed in the Challenge Tournament.

Felix, Simmons and high school phenom Logan Stieber also should be in the mix here. Dan Mitcheff was a surprise fourth-place finisher at the U.S. Open.

Sam Hazewinkel, who has had a strong season after switching from Greco-Roman to freestyle, also can’t be counted out. Hazewinkel struggled to an eighth-place finish at the U.S. Open, but he has already qualified for the Trials.

Brandon Precin placed seventh at the Open.

Past NCAA champion Paul Donahoe qualified by virtue of winning the Northeast Regional. Two-time NCAA All-American Zach Sanders won the Northern Plains Regional to earn a berth in the Trials.

2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo remains on the sidelines. He has not competed since his historic triumph in Beijing, China.

With Cejudo out, this weight class remains very wide open. Nearly every qualifier in the field has a legitimate shot at reaching the final-round series against Blanc.

2010 U.S. Open Results – 55 kg/121 lbs.
1st – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC) dec. Angel Escobedo, Griffith, Ind. (New York AC), 1-0, 4-0
3rd – Danny Felix, Morgantown, W.Va. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Dan Mitcheff, Kent, Ohio (Golden Pride WC), 1-0, 6-0
5th – Nick Simmons, Corvallis, Ore. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Logan Stieber, Monroeville, Ohio (New York AC), 3-3, 4-0
7th – Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (Wildcat WC) dec. Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids), 0-2, 3-1, 5-4

2010 U.S. World Team Trials Qualifiers – 55 kg/121 lbs.
U.S. Open Champion – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC)
U.S. Open, second place – Angel Escobedo, Griffith, Ind. (New York AC)
U.S. Open, third place – Danny Felix, Morgantown, W.Va. (Sunkist Kids)
U.S. Open, fourth place – Dan Mitcheff, Kent, Ohio (Golden Pride WC)
U.S. Open, fifth place – Nick Simmons, Corvallis, Ore. (Sunkist Kids)
U.S. Open, sixth place – Logan Stieber, Monroeville, Ohio (New York AC)
U.S. Open, seventh place - Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (Wildcat WC)
Northeast Regional Trials Champion - Paul Donahoe, Iowa City, Iowa (Gator WC)
Northern Plains Trials Champion – Zach Sanders, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
University Nationals Champion – Frank Perrelli, Hackettstown, N.J. (Cornell)
University Nationals Runner-up – Jon Morrison, Orland Park, Ill. (Oklahoma State)
Sunkist Kids International champion – Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
National Coach Wild card – TBA
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