By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Elena Pirozhkova has competed at the World Championships for the last two years. She was at 67 kg for the 2008 World Championships, and dropped down to 63 kg for the 2009 World Championships. She has been very successful on international tours the last few seasons. Pirozkhova is also a past University World Champion. What she has not done is win a medal at the World level, and is aiming to make another World Team in quest of that missing medal.
Placing second behind Pirozhkova at the U.S. Open in a very close match was one of the greatest U.S. women wrestlers in history, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann of the Sunkist Kids. McMann has also won three World medals during her illustrious career. She did not compete last season, but wrestled at the Sunkist Kids International and the U.S. Open this year. If McMann is in the field in Council Bluffs, she is the top challenger for this position among those in the Challenge Tournament.
2009 Junior World bronze medalist Veronica Carlson of the New York AC placed third at the U.S. Open. She qualified to return to the Junior World Championships again this summer. Carlson was second at the WCWA college nationals for Missouri Baptist this year, competing up at 67 kg. She brings experience and talent to this division, and is a true contender to make the U.S. World Team.
College wrestlers Lauren Louive of the Univ. of the Cumberlands and Amberle Montgomery of the Gator WC/OCU were fourth and fifth at the U.S. Open respectively. Montgomery won the WCWA College Nationals at 67 kg, defeating Carlson in the finals, and also beat her in the finals of the University Nationals at 63 kg. Also placing at the U.S. Open to qualify for the World Team Trials were Pi;ikea Kalalau of Team Hawaii and Jennifer Page of the Bella Vista Broncos.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at this weight class was Randi Miller of the Gator WC. It is possible that Miller will return to competition this year, but she may be up at a higher weight class.
Pirozhkova has been the top competitor in this division, but was pushed hard by McMann in the U.S. Open. If McMann enters at the World Team Trials, it could be a great battle. Veronica Carlson is perhaps the most successful of the other challengers here, but Amberlee Montgomery is showing great progress this season.
2010 U.S. Open results at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. in women’s freestyle
1st - Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) dec. Sara McMann, Gaffney, SC (Sunkist Kids), 0-2,3-1,1-0
3rd - Veronica Carlson, Addison, Ill. (New York AC) dec. Lauren Louive, Massilon, Ohio (Cumberlands), 3-0,6-0
5th - Amberle Montgomery, Kent, Wash.(Gator WC/OCU) pin Pi`ikea Kalalau, Honolulu, Hawaii (Team Hawaii), 1-0, 0:42
7th - Jennifer Page, Orangevale, Calif. (Bella Vista Broncos) dec. Andrea Orozco, Soledad, Calif. (USOEC), 2-0,5-2
World Team Trials qualifiers at 63 kg/138.75 pounds in women’s freestyle
U.S. Open Champion – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
U.S. Open, second place – Sara McMann, Gaffney, SC (Sunkist Kids),
U.S. Open, third place - Veronica Carlson, Addison, Ill. (New York AC)
U.S. Open, fourth place – Lauren Louive, Massilon, Ohio (Cumberlands),
U.S. Open, fifth place – Amberle Montgomery, Kent, Wash.(Gator WC/OCU)
U.S. Open, sixth place - Pi`ikea Kalalau, Honolulu, Hawaii (Team Hawaii)
U.S. Open, seventh place - Jennifer Page, Orangevale, Calif. (Bella Vista Broncos)
Past U.S. Olympic Team member – Randi Miller, St. Louis, Mo. (Gator WC)