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Travis Paulson downs twin brother Trent Paulson as World Team Trials kick off in Council Bluffs



Travis Paulson (in blue) battles Trent Paulson on Friday. Larry Slater photo.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Travis Paulson has wrestled his share of difficult matches over the years.

The match he competed in early Friday afternoon at the Mid-America Center may have just moved to the top of the list.

Paulson won an emotional battle with twin brother Trent Paulson to win the U.S. World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in freestyle wrestling.

Travis Paulson won in two straight periods – 1-0, 2-1 – at 74 kg/163 lbs. to advance to Friday night’s best-of-3 final-round series against U.S. Open champion Andrew Howe. The champion advances to September's World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

The finals are set for 5 p.m.

It was the first time the Paulsons had ever met in competition. They started competing in wrestling as second-graders.

“Trent’s my toughest competitor,” Travis said. “I really didn’t think this day would come. I love the guy. It was hard.

“If there is anyone I could pick to lose to in this tournament it would be my brother, and I’m sure it’s probably the same with him."

The Paulsons are wrestling in their hometown of Council Bluffs.

The first period was scoreless before Travis Paulson finished in the leg clinch to win the period. Trent Paulson shot in to take a 1-0 lead in the second period before Travis rebounded to win the period. He sealed it with a double-leg shot late in the period.

Travis Paulson beat 2008 Olympian Ben Askren in the semifinals. Paulson lost to Howe in the finals of the Open.

“I’ve been up for Howe ever since I lost to him at the Open,” Travis said. “I’ve been waiting for this matchup, and I’ve been thinking about it every minute of every day. I’ve done the right things in practice and I’m ready for him. Training with my brother gives me an advantage over everybody. I have a World Class training partner who pushes me every day.”

Trent Paulson, a 2009 World Team member at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., makes the 2010 U.S. National Team after finishing third at 74 kg/163 lbs.

Nine-time World medalist and two-time World champion Kristie Davis advanced to the finals at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. Davis will meet U.S. Open champion Erin Clodgo for the World Team spot.

Davis is wrestling in her first major tournament since the 2008 Olympic Trials. She took last year off after getting married and giving birth to her second daughter.

2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick won the freestyle Challenge Tournament to earn a rematch with Shawn Bunch in the final series at 60 kg/132 lbs. Bunch beat Zadick in the 2009 Trials and in April’s U.S. Open.

Past World champion Dremiel Byers rolled into the Greco-Roman finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Byers, second in the World last year, will face U.S. Army teammate Tim Taylor in the finals. Taylor was a training partner for Byers at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 Worlds.

2009 World Team member Jake Varner won the Challenge Tournament to earn a rematch with J.D. Bergman in the freestyle finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Bergman beat Varner, who reached the World quarterfinals last year, in the 2010 U.S. Open finals.

Past Olympian and World Team member Ali Bernard beat World champion Iris Smith to earn a shot at U.S. Open winner and past World Team member Stephany Lee in women’s freestyle at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

Deanna Rix, fifth in the last two World Championships, advanced to the finals against U.S. Open champion Kelsey Campbell in women’s freestyle at 59 kg/130 lbs.

Past World Team members Jake Clark and Chas Betts will meet in the Greco-Roman finals at 84 kg/185 lbs.

Past Olympian and World Team member Spenser Mango will face Jermaine Hodge in the Greco-Roman finals at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Amy Whitbeck advanced to the finals to face 2009 World Team member Jessica Medina in women’s finals at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.

U.S. Open champion Jake Fisher will meet Steven Forrest in the Greco-Roman finals at 74 kg/163 lbs. Forrest was the No. 6 seed.

2008 Olympian and past World fifth-place finisher T.C. Dantzler retired near the end of the first session Friday after he finished fourth in Greco-Roman at 84 kg/185 lbs. Dantzler, 39, was a member of the 2007 U.S. squad that won the only World team title in U.S. Greco-Roman history.

The second and final day of the tournament will be on Saturday in Council Bluffs.

FRIDAY NIGHT’S FINALS MATCHUPS

FREESTYLE

60 kg/132 lbs.
Shawn Bunch (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC) vs. Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Gator WC)

74 kg/163 lbs.
Andrew Howe (Cedar Lake, Ind./New York AC) vs. Travis Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids)

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
J.D. Bergman (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC) vs. Jake Varner (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC)

WOMEN’S FREESTYLE

51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Jessica Medina (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) vs. Amy Whitbeck, Duanesburg, N.Y. (New York AC)

59 kg/130 lbs.
Kelsey Campbell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) vs. Deanna Rix (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids)

67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Erin Clodgo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) vs. Kristie Davis (Oklahoma City, Okla./New York AC)

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Stephany Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) vs. Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Gator WC)

GRECO-ROMAN

55 kg/121 lbs.
Spenser Mango (St. Louis, Mo./New York AC) vs. Jermaine Hodge (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army)

74 kg/163 lbs.
Jake Fisher, Boise, Idaho (New York AC) vs. Steven Forrest (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps)

84 kg/185 lbs.
Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn./Minnesota Storm) vs. Jake Clark (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force)

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) vs. Tim Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army)
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