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U.S. wins team title with four champions at 2001 Pan American Women’s Wrestling Championships, in Sa



The United States won four of the six weight classes and claimed the team title at the Pan American Women's Wrestling Championships in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, which completed May 18. Held three of every four years during the non-Pan American Games years, the Pan American Championships features the best wrestlers in North, Central and South America. Claiming individual gold medals were Stephanie Murata (Lansing, Mich./Sunkist Kids) at 112.25 pounds, Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 123.25 pounds, Kristie Marano (Albany, N.Y./ATWA) at 149.75 pounds and Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 165.25 pounds. Murata completed the tournament with a 4-0 record to claim the gold. On Friday, she defeated Marcia Andrades of Venezuela, 7-3 and Belinda Chou of Canada, 5-1. Murata has won the U.S. Nationals six times, and has placed fourth in the World Championships two times. George, a 2001 U.S. Nationals champion, dominated all three of her opponents, winning by two technical falls and a pin. On Friday, she finished off the victory with a 10-0 technical fall over Saira Martinez of El Salvador. George is a three-time U.S. World Team member. Marano, a 2000 World Champion at her weight class, also finished with a 3-0 record. On Friday, whe pinned Daniella Lenos of Mexico in just 14 seconds. Marano is a five-time World medalist. Smith won the Pan American Championships gold medal for the second straight year. On Friday, she pinne Luisa Carras of El Salvador to finish the tournament with a 3-0 record. Smith, a two-time U.S. Nationals champion, was a member of the 2000 U.S. Women's World Team. Claiming a silver medal was 2000 U.S. World Team member Clarissa Chun (Kapolei, Hawaii/Missouri Valley) at 101.25 pounds. On Friday, Chun scored a 10-0 techncial fall over Maylene Decena of the Dominican Republic to finish with a 2-1 record. Winning a bronze medal was 2000 U.S. World Team member Sara McMann (Lock Haven, Pa./Sunkist Kids) at 136.5 pounds. On Friday, McMann dropped a 9-5 decision to Puerto Rico's Mabel Fonseca in the semifinals. McMann rebounded to pin Bettey Belazyeaz of Venezuela in 1:11 in the bronze medal match. The United States won the team title with 57 points, ahead of runner-up Venezuela with 53 points. The host Dominican Republic was third, followed by El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada in the standings. "It was a dominant performance," said USA Wrestling Women 's National Coach Mike Duroe. "We had medals in all the weight classes. We looked very good as a team. Venezuela also had a strong team this year."
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