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|WORLD TEAM TRIALS PREVIEW: Women’s freestyle at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
This weight class may be the deepest and most talented in the women’s event. Holding the No. 1 spot the last two seasons was Ali Bernard of the Gator WC, who was fifth at the 2008 Olympics and competed at the 2009 World Championships. Bernard did not compete at the U.S. Open this year, so she will be in the Challenge Tournament in Council Bluffs. She claimed the 2010 University Nationals title in her most recent competition. Bernard, a two-time Junior World champion, recently completed her college career in Canada, where she was a five-time CIS Canadian national champion.
Stephany Lee of the Sunkist Kids, a 2008 U.S. World Team member, won the U.S. Open this year, defeating 2005 World champion Iris Smith of the U.S. Army in the finals. Both Lee and Smith have had successful years. Smith won the New York AC International, while Lee won two international gold medals this winter overseas. Smith was second at the Dave Schultz Memorial and is having her best year in a long time. Lee has won a pair of University World titles in her career.
Also expected in the field is two-time World champion Kristie Marano Davis, who did not go to the U.S. Open, but returned for the first time since 2008 at the German Grand Prix in May. Davis has won a record nine World medals in her career. It will interesting to see how her time away from the mat affects her performance. Davis is one of the fiercest competitors in women’s wrestling history, and is motivated in pursuing her first U.S. Olympic Team berth.
College star Melissa Simmons of the Gator WC/OCU placed third at the U.S. Open, and has been very competitive in the past three seasons. Simmons was fifth in last year’s World Team Trials, and was sixth in the 2006 U.S. Open when she was still in high school.
Amber Miracle of the USOEC placed fourth and Karra Stratton of the Warrior WC placed fifth at the 2010 U.S. Open, both strong finishes for them.
The other qualifiers who placed in the top seven in Cleveland were unattached Donna Rosen and Palomo Basulto of the Missouri Valley WC. Lauren Knight of the Univ. of the Cumberlands, the WCWA runner-up at this weight in 2010, may drop down to 67 kg where she has been successful in recent seasons. Another possibility here is 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller of the Gator WC, who competed at this division early in her career.
With Olympian Ali Bernard, World champions Iris Smith and Kristie Davis and University World champion Stephany Lee in this weight class, there is a wealth of talent and experience in the field here. It gets even stronger if Olympic medalist Randi Miller joins the field. There are also some young contenders who would like the chance to knock off one of these stars. It’s a good bet that the U.S. will have a talented competitor at this division at the World Championships this fall.
2010 U.S. Open results at 72 kg/158.75 lbs. in women’s freestyle
1st - Stephany Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army), 1-0, 5-0
3rd - Melissa Simmons, Ridgefield, Wash. (Gator WC/OCU) dec. Amber Miracle, Berlin, Wis. (USOEC), 1-0, 2-3, 3-0
5th - Karra Stratton, Frisco, Texas (Warrior Wrestling Club) dec. Donna Rosen, Phoenix, Ariz. (Unattached), 4-0,6-5
7th - Paloma Basulto, Pismo Beach, Calif. (Missouri Valley WC)
World Team Trials qualifiers at 72 kg/158.5 pounds in women’s freestyle
U.S. Open, Champion – Stephany Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
U.S. Open, second place - Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
U.S. Open, third place – Melissa Simmons, Ridgefield, Wash. (Gator WC/OCU)
U.S. Open, fourth place – Amber Miracle, Berlin, Wis. (USOEC),
U.S. Open, fifth place – Karra Stratton, Frisco, Texas (Warrior WC)
U.S. Open, sixth place – Donna Rosen, Phoenix, Ariz. (Unattached),
U.S. Open, seventh place - Paloma Basulto, Pismo Beach, Calif. (Missouri Valley WC)
Past U.S. World Team member – Kristie Marano Davis, Oklahoma City, Okla. (New York AC)
Past U.S. Olympic Team member – Ali Bernard, New Ulm, Minn. (Gator WC)
WCWA Nationals runner-up - Lauren Knight, Vallejo, Calif. (Univ. of the Cumberlands)