By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Travis Paulson drives in to score on Andrew Howe. Larry Slater photo.
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Travis Paulson was not going to be denied for the second straight year in his hometown.
Second in the 2009 U.S. World Team Trials, Paulson was on a mission to earn his first World Team berth in freestyle wrestling.
Paulson capped a memorable and emotion-packed day by sweeping U.S. Open champion Andrew Howe to win the World Team Trials at 74 kg/163 lbs. on Friday night at the Mid-America Center.
Paulson makes his first World Team and advances to September’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Paulson beat Olympian Ben Askren and his twin brother, 2009 World Team member Trent Paulson, to win the Challenge Tournament earlier in the day.
“Last year after I lost that second match in the finals, I went over into the corner and we cried,” Travis Paulson said. “I was not going to leave 2010 feeling the same way. I was going to leave it out on the mat. I was going to get it done.
“Wrestling Trent was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. I hope to never do that again. He is my toughest competitor and my best friend.”
Travis Paulson avenged a U.S. Open semifinal loss to take two straight finals matches from reigning NCAA champion Howe.
“Howe took us by surprise at Nationals. He hadn’t been that successful at Nationals and Trials the year before and I kind of overlooked him,” Paulson said. “He’s a stud. The first time I wrestled him, he surprised me. He makes you wrestle the whole time. He has a bright future. After I wrestled him once, I looked at the film. I made some adjustments. I made my partners wrestle like him and they helped me prepare.”
Paulson was one of a combined 11 champions crowned in men’s and women’s freestyle, and Greco-Roman on Friday.
World champions Kristie Davis and Dremiel Byers earned another trip to the World Championships.
Davis, a nine-time World medalist and two-time World champion, swept young standout Erin Clodgo in the women’s finals at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Byers, who owns gold, silver and bronze medals at the Worlds, won two straight over training partner and Army teammate Tim Taylor in Greco-Roman at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Past World silver medalist Mike Zadick made his third World Team by sweeping 2009 World Team member Shawn Bunch in the freestyle finals at 60 kg/132 lbs. Bunch had beaten Zadick in the U.S. Open.
“It’s a really great feeling to be back on the World Team,” Zadick said. “The training in Iowa City has been top-notch. I’ve been on track with everything all year, and now I’m ready to go to Moscow and win a World Championship.”
The Zadick-Bunch matches were among the best of the night as they engaged in a series of wild scrambles as they battled for points. Zadick made World Teams in 2006 and 2007 before wrestling in the 2008 Olympics.
The relentless Zadick lost the first period in both matches before storming back to prevail.
“He’s really explosive,” Zadick said. “I knew I had to stay on him and I had to keep the pressure on the whole time.”
J.D. Bergman made his first World freestyle team by sweeping 2009 World quarterfinalist Jake Varner in the freestyle finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Bergman also beat Varner in the U.S. Open finals.
Kelsey Campbell made her first World Team in women’s freestyle at 59 kg/130 lbs. Campbell lost the first match before winning the next two over Deanna Rix, who has placed fifth in the World the last two years.
Jessica Medina made her second straight World Team in women’s freestyle at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. She dropped the first match to Amy Whitbeck before bouncing back to win the next two.
Stephany Lee made her second World Team by taking two in a row over Olympian and World Team member Ali Bernard in women’s freestyle at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Spenser Mango, a 2008 Olympian, made his second straight World Team by taking two in a row from Jermaine Hodge in Greco-Roman at 55 kg/121 lbs.
Jake Clark made his second World Team after taking two straight from 2009 World Team member Chas Betts in the Greco-Roman finals at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Jake Fisher made his first World Team by downing Steven Forrest in two bouts in the Greco-Roman finals at 74 kg/163 lbs.
The second and final day of the tournament will be on Saturday in Council Bluffs.
FRIDAY NIGHT’S FINALS RESULTS
60 kg/132 lbs.
Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Gator WC) def. Shawn Bunch (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC), 2 matches to 0
Zadick dec. Bunch, 0-2, 2-0, 4-0
Zadick dec. Bunch, 0-1, 7-0, 3-0
74 kg/163 lbs.
Travis Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) def. Andrew Howe (Cedar Lake, Ind./New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Paulson dec. Howe, 1-0, 1-1
Paulson dec. Howe, 0-1, 1-0, 2-1
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
J.D. Bergman (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC) def. Jake Varner (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), 2 matches to 0
Bergman dec. Varner, 3-1, 3-2
Bergman dec. Varner, 2-1, 1-1
51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Jessica Medina (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Amy Whitbeck, Duanesburg, N.Y. (New York AC), 2 matches to 1
Whitbeck pinned Medina, 0-1, 4-1, 1:33
Medina dec. Whitbeck, 1-0, 2-0
Medina dec. Whitbeck, 1-0, 1-0
59 kg/130 lbs.
Kelsey Campbell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Deanna Rix (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Rix dec. Campbell, 3-0, 0-1, 1-0
Campbell dec. Rix, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
Campbell dec. Rix, 1-0, 1-0
67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Kristie Davis (Oklahoma City, Okla./New York AC) def. Erin Clodgo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Davis dec. Clodgo, 1-0, 3-1
Davis dec. Clodgo, 2-1, 2-0
72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Stephany Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Gator WC), 2 matches to 0
Lee dec. Bernard, 2-1, 2-2, 2-1
Lee dec. Bernard, 1-0, 3-1
55 kg/121 lbs.
Spenser Mango (St. Louis, Mo./New York AC) def. Jermaine Hodge (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 0
Mango dec. Hodge, 2-0, 0-1, 1-0
Mango dec. Hodge, 0-2, 3-0, 1-0
74 kg/163 lbs.
Jake Fisher, Boise, Idaho (New York AC) def. Steven Forrest (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps), 2 matches to 0
Fisher dec. Forrest, 1-0, 1-0
Fisher dec. Forrest, 0-3, 3-0, 1-0
84 kg/185 lbs.
Jake Clark (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) def. Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn./Minnesota Storm), 2 matches to 0
Clark dec. Betts, 1-0, 2-0
Clark dec. Betts, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Tim Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 0
Byers dec. Taylor, 1-0, 1-0
Byers dec. Taylor, 1-0, 1-0