Top News Stories...
This week, TheMat.com will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....
Shockley will succeed long-time chairman Jim Keen. Sr. as Chairman of the Board....
The Hawkeye senior will battle Virginia Tech's Devin Carter in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday....
Cleveland, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia & St. Louis are Div. I finalists. Div. II and III finalists also announced....
|USA Wrestling Olympic year story ideas, as of March 7|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Story ideas will be updated weekly through the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, April 21-22.
1. Olympic champions making comeback - Four past Olympic wrestling champions have either made a comeback or have indicated they plan to try out for the 2012 Olympic Team – Henry Cejudo (2008), Cael Sanderson (2004), Rulon Gardner (2000), Kurt Angle (1996). Each has their own story concerning their reasons for wrestling again.
2. Wrestling-hungry Iowa City to host 2012 Olympic Trials – Iowa City, Iowa, home of the Univ. of Iowa and its storied wrestling program, is hosting the 2012 Olympic Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, April 21-22. Home of the legend Dan Gable and location of much wrestling history, it hopes to set attendance records. Iowa has set the attendance records for college, both for one dual meet and for a season.
3. New World champion Jordan Burroughs having amazing year – In 2011, Jordan Burroughs won these events in order: NCAA Championships (his second), named Dan Hodge Trophy winner as top college wrestler, U.S. Open, U.S. World Team Trials, Ukrainian Memorial, World Championships, Pan American Games. This New Jersey native and Univ. of Nebraska grad is taking the world by storm at 74 kg in freestyle
4. Born in Russia, raised in Massachusetts, Elena Pirozhkova is Olympic medal hopeful – 2010 World silver medalist Elena Pirozhkova moved to the USA as a small child from wrestling rich Russia, and has become a top medal favorite. After high school, she went straight to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where her career has thrived.
5. Varner learning from Olympic champion in his quest for his own gold – California native Jake Varner wrestled under 2004 Olympic champion Cael Sanderson when he was coach at Iowa State. When Sanderson took the coaching job at Penn State, Varner stayed at Iowa State to finish college, winning his second NCAA title. He has since moved to Penn State to train with his mentor. Varner won a 2011 World bronze medal training with Sanderson and seeks his own Olympic gold.
6. 2008 World champion and Olympian Clarissa Chun hungry for more gold – Hawaii native Clarissa Chun had a breakthrough year in 2008, winning a World gold medal and placing fifth at the Olympic Games at 48 kg. She has continued to excel, making two more World Teams, with a 2011 World fifth place. One of the veterans on Women’s Team USA, Chun is seeking to be the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.
7. World champion and soldier Dremiel Byers has 3 World medals but seeks Olympic gold – Dremiel Byers, North Carolina native and member of the Army World Class Athlete program, won a World gold in 2002, a World silver in 2009 and a World bronze in 2007 at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. He also made the 2008 Olympic team but fell short of a medal. Byers remains No. 1 in the USA with eyes focused on London and another chance for an Olympic medal. An interesting fact – Byers, who serves in the Army, was born on September 11.
8. Will Chun or Bernard be the first two-time U.S. Olympian in women’s wrestling – Clarissa Chun and Ali Bernard were teammates on the 2008 Beijing Olympic team in women’s freestyle, both placing fifth. Women’s wrestling was added to the Olympics in 2004 with four weight classes and no U.S. woman has made two teams. Both Chun and Bernard are No. 1 in the USA going into 2012 Olympic Trials process. Can they become the first repeat team members?
9. Son of Olympic coach, Reece Humphrey seeks his own Olympic glory – 2011 U.S. Freestyle World Team member Reece Humphrey is adding to a family legacy. His dad, Jim Humphrey, was a 1977 World silver medalist in freestyle, and head coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team. Both were stars at Ohio State. A two-time University World medalist, Reece was ninth at the 2011 World Championships at 60 kg/132 lbs. Reece, an Indiana native, enters the Olympic year at No. 1, and looks to get a medal of his own.
10. “Flying Squirrel” inventor Ellis Coleman seeks spot on the Olympic Team – One of the most popular sports videos in 2011 was the Flying Squirrel move from U.S. Greco-Roman star Ellis Coleman during the 2011 Junior World Greco-Roman Championships. Illinois native Coleman jumped over top of his Iranian opponent, landed and threw him for three points. Captured on Romanian TV, the video had over 4.5 million views on YouTube. Coleman dropped in weight and is a top Olympic hopeful at 60 kg/132 lbs. where he won titles this fall at the Sunkist Kids International and the New York Athletic Club International.
11. World medalist Tervel Dlagnev seeking Olympic gold at heavyweight - An unheralded high school wrestler from Texas, Dlagnev competed for Div. II Nebraska-Kearney, and claimed two Div. II national titles at heavyweight. He set sights on the Olympics and showed promise by winning the 2008 University World Championships title. In 2009, he became the nation’s top Senior athlete, and won a bronze medal at the World Championships. He chose to make his Olympic run at the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus, Ohio. After placing second in the 2010 Trials, Dlagnev reclaimed the No. 1 spot in 2011, and placed a strong fifth at the World Championships in spite of a neck injury. Among his wins was against the top big man of the last decade, Olympic and World champion Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan.
12. Young Helen Maroulis wrestling like veteran on Olympic level – Maryland native Helen Maroulis is always ahead of her time. At the tender age of 17, Maroulis qualified for the 2008 U.S. Senior World Team, placing eighth in the World. She has won three Junior World medals in her career. She started her college journey at Missouri Baptist, but in 2010-11 transferred to Simon Fraser Univ. in Canada with close friend and two-time Junior World champion Victoria Anthony. Maroulis made the 2011 U.S. Senior World Team and placed fifth at the World Championships. She and Anthony have taken a year off from college and are preparing for the Olympic Trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. A big win came at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico. Winner of the U.S. Open in December, Maroulis is the Olympic Trials favorite at 55 kg.
13. Talented Olympic redshirts seeking Olympic Team berths –This Olympic cycle, the NCAA and the wrestling community made the requirements for taking an Olympic redshirt more stringent. Even so, there are a number who have qualified and are taking this year off from college to pursue their Olympic dreams. Included are NCAA champions Andrew Howe of Wisconsin and Dustin Kilgore of Kent State in freestyle. Others include Chad Hanke of Oregon State, Jarod Trice of Central Michigan and Tyler Graff of Wisconsin in freestyle, and Travis Rutt of Wisconsin in Greco-Roman. There is a tradition of Olympic redshirts doing well, including Olympic medalists Brandon Paulson in 1996 and Garrett Lowney in 2000, both from Minnesota. Will any of the Olympic redshirts make the team this year?
14. Son and nephew of Olympians, Sam Hazewinkel chasing his own dream – Freestyle star Sam Hazewinkel had great wrestling role models growing up. The Florida native is the son of 1968 and 1972 Greco-Roman Olympian Dave Hazewinkel. His uncle Jim, who is Dave’s twin, was also on the '68 and '72 Olympic Greco-Roman squads. A star at Oklahoma in college, Sam made his first impact in Greco-Roman, winning a pair of U.S. Open titles and placing second at the 2008 Olympic Trials in the classic style. This Olympic four year cycle, he switched to freestyle, and improved quickly, winning the 2011 U.S. Open and taking second at the 2011 World Team Trials. Sam seeks to put another Hazewinkel in the Olympics, this time in a different style.
15. Sara and Katherine Fulp-Allen seeking to follow father into Olympics – The Fulp-Allen sisters from California, Sara and Katherine, are seeking to make a U.S. Olympic team and continue a family legacy. They are the daughters of Lee Allen was a 1960 Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler and a 1980 Olympic Greco-Roman Coach. Both wrestled for their dad at Menlo College, where they were college national champions. Both also have made age-group World Teams, with younger sister Katherine winning a University World title. Sara was a 2005 U.S. Open champion. Both train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, with Sara at 48 kg and Katherine at 55 kg. Katherine placed a strong fourth at the recent U.S. Open to qualify for the Olympic Trials, while Sara is still working on getting qualified.
16. Will Henry Cejudo return to Olympic glory after three years off the mat? – 2008 Olympic champion Henry Cejudo was the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion ever. He did not immediately return to competition after winning the freestyle 55 kg gold in Beijing, sitting out over three years. Cejudo’s first match back was at the 2011 Beat the Streets dual in Times Square in New York City. Since then, he was won the Sunkist International, and placed second in an event in France. Cejudo is training for the Olympic Trials at the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus, Ohio.
17. Husband and wife Joe and Deanna Betterman seek Olympic berths –Consider this a marriage made on the mat. This past year, Greco-Roman star Joe Betterman and women’s freestyle star Deanna Rix got married. They live and train in Colorado Springs, both seeking a spot on the Olympic team. Deanna has placed fifth in the World Championships twice at 59 kg. Joe has made two U.S. World Teams in 2007 and in 2011. Rix is a native of Maine, while Joe grew up in Chicago. Deanna normally competes at a non-Olympic weight, so she will choose either to go to 55 kg or 63 kg for the Olympic Trials. Can the Bettermans both earn a spot on the Olympic Team?
18. U.S. women wrestlers finding college success north of the border – When you look at the list of colleges which have produced athletes in the U.S. Olympic Trials, you will see that three of the top contenders come from Canadian colleges. 2008 Olympian Ali Bernard was the first to go north, wrestling at the Univ. of Regina and finishing up at the Univ. of Alberta. She won five CIS Canadian college titles. Last year, U.S. stars Helen Maroulis and Victoria Anthony went to Simon Fraser Univ. in Canada, winning WCWA college national titles. Both are taking a year off from college. Bernard and Maroulis are currently No. 1 in their classes, and Anthony was second at the recent U.S. Open, legitimate contenders for London.
19. Cliff Keen Wrestling Club making strong push in freestyle – This past year, the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club at the University of Michigan has made a strong commitment to freestyle wrestling. New Michigan assistant coaches Sean Bormet and Donny Pritzlaff are top freestyle coaches with the New York AC. Moving up to train in Ann Arbor are 2009 World silver medalist Jake Herbert (a Northwestern grad) and 2010 U.S. Open champ Andrew Howe (on Olympic redshirt from Wisconsin). Former Michigan stars Josh Churella and Tyrel Todd train there, as are former Illinois stars Jimmy Kennedy and Mike Poeta. Canadian Olympian Matt Gentry, an NCAA champ for Stanford, will also train there often.
20. Army WCAP program looking to impact Greco-Roman Olympic team – The top club program in U.S. Greco-Roman is the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, which has won the U.S. Open team title for seven straight years under Coach Shon Lewis. Two members of the 2008 Olympic team are on the Army team and currently ranked No. 1: Spenser Mango at 55 kg and Dremiel Byers at 120 kg. Also on the Army team is two-time World bronze medalist Justin Lester at 66 kg. At the recent U.S. Open in Arlington, Texas, the Army had 13 All-Americans. Based at Fort Carson in Colorado, we can expect a large group of soldiers in the Olympic Trials in April.
21. Rulon Gardner back on the mat, seeking third Olympic medal – After almost eight years of retirement, 2000 Olympic champion and 2001 World champion Rulon Gardner has returned to competition. Gardner, already a member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame, dropped almost 200 pounds on NBC’s Biggest Loser show, and got his competitive fire back for wrestling. He is training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center for another Olympic run at age 40. Gardner entered the friendly Kiki Cup event and won four matches, his first action since his Olympic bronze bout at the 2004 Athens Games.
22. OCU college seniors next focus on Olympic quest – The WCWA Women’s College Nationals was an Olympic Trials qualifying event. Oklahoma City won its fourth straight team title, led by a group of talented seniors. Three of the seniors won gold medals: Michaela Hutchison at 123, Kristie Davis at 155 and Brittany Delgado at 191 pounds, all advancing to the Olympic Trials. Hutchison and Delgado won their third WCWA titles, while Davis got her second. Davis is a two-time World champ and nine-time World medalist, who returned to college late in her career.
23. Vermont native Erin Clodgo makes impact in women’s wrestling – The Ivan Yarygin Memorial International is considered perhaps the toughest freestyle tournament each winter, and a true test of skill. Erin Clodgo, who grew up in tiny Vermont, had a breakout performance with a bronze-medal at 63 kg there this year. Clodgo went to high school and some college up at the USOEC program at Northern Michigan, and then moved on to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Previously competing at 67 kg and 72 kg early in her career, she had settled in at 63 kg and has become a top Olympic hopeful.
24. Nick Simmons cashing in on years of hard work – You can’t find a wrestler with as much passion and fervor for wrestling as 2011 U.S. men’s freestyle star Nick Simmons. A native of Michigan, he went undefeated in high school. At Michigan State, he was a four-time All-American. At 55 kg, Simmons is very tall for his weight, and has a unique and punishing wrestling style. Among his nicknames is the “East Lansing Strangler.” Simmons now trains at the Northwest Regional Training Center at Oregon State, and had his best season last year. He made the 2011 U.S. World Team and placed a strong fifth at the World Championships in Turkey. Simmons has his sights now on making the U.S. Olympic Team, a lifelong dream.
25. Chas Betts finding his groove going into Olympic year - A proud native of Minnesota, a hotbed for Greco-Roman wrestling, Chas Betts has worked his way through USA Wrestling’s development system. For college, he attended Northern Michigan to compete for its USOEC Greco-Roman program, where he competing for the USA at the Junior and University Worlds. After graduation, he moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center to focus on his Olympic dream. He qualified for the 2009 Senior World Championships at 84 kg, and has been successful in many international events. Betts goes into the Olympic year with confidence after winning the title at the U.S. Open in Arlington, Texas in December. Betts is very talented with video editing, with motion design and animation among his skills. His goal is to be captured on video at the 2012 Olympics in London.
26. Lampe seeks to return to top during Olympic year – Wrestling fans in Wisconsin remember Alyssa Lampe of Tomahawk, who became the first girl to reach the state high school finals competing against boys in 2006. Lampe also excelled against girls in freestyle. She started by attending Northern Michigan’s USOEC women’s program, then moved on to the Olympic Training Center. Lampe was a 2007 and 2008 Junior World bronze medalist. In 2008, she was second at the World Team Trials to Olympian and World Champion Clarissa Chun, and has been in the finals ever since. At the 2010 World Trials, she beat Chun to make her first Senior World Team. Chun reclaimed the spot in 2011. Lampe, a strong and aggressive wrestler, hopes to move back to the top in 2012 and make her first Olympic Team.
27. Young stars from South Dade High School reach Olympic Trials – Five wrestlers qualified to compete at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials based on their performance at the 2012 Dave Schultz Memorial. Two of them are natives of Homestead, Florida and attended South Dade High School. Kendrick Sanders won the Schultz at 74 kg in Greco. A three-time Junior National champion in Greco in high school, he went to Purdue for a short time for college, then switched to the USOEC program at Northern Michigan to wrestle Greco-Roman full-time. In his second year there, Sanders is starting to blossom. Hall graduated last spring from South Dade, but has not yet gone to college. He is training this year at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and will go to Rutgers next year. Hall placed fourth at 55 kg to earn his trip to the Trials in Iowa City.
28. Jordan looking to take next big step on Senior level – Raymond Jordan keeps getting better. A native of New Bern, N.C., he competed in college for Missouri, where he was third in the 2009 NCAA Championships. Jordan’s first stop after college was at Arizona State, where he was an assistant coach. He quickly improved in freestyle, and made Freestyle Team USA by placing third at the 2010 World Team Trials at 84 kg. Jordan has moved to Nebraska, where he is training under Coach Mark Manning, and working out with 2011 World champion Jordan Burroughs (74 kg) and Craig Brester (96 kg). A win at the 2012 Dave Schultz Memorial gives him a boost going into the Olympic year.
29. Junior World champion Bradley seeking Olympic berth – Dom Bradley is considered a heavyweight star of the future in freestyle, but wants it all right now. A native of Blue Springs, Mo., he won three Junior freestyle national titles then signed with Missouri for college. He backed up NCAA champion Mark Ellis there for a few seasons, and continued with his freestyle. Bradley was impressive winning the 1999 Junior World Championships. He has also been strong on the Senior level, finishing No. 3 on Freestyle Team USA the last two years. In 2011, Bradley was third at the NCAA Championships. This year, he is taking an Olympic redshirt year from college and pursuing the Olympics. A win at the Dave Schultz Memorial starts his year off strong.
30. Mango looks to return to Olympics and win first medal – A native of St. Louis, Mo., Spenser Mango chose to pursue Greco-Roman during college rather than the NCAA collegiate style. He went to the Northern Michigan USOEC program to train under respected coach Ivan Ivanov and was quickly a top prospect. In 2008, he surprised many by making the Olympic Team at 55 kg and placing eighth in Beijing. Since then, Mango has made the last three U.S. World Teams, owning his weight class. A year ago, he joined the Army World Class Athlete Program after college graduation. He still seeks his first World-level medal, and hopes to win it in London in 2012.
31. Mocco seeking second Olympic team berth – Steve Mocco would like to make a second Olympic Team at heavyweight on the mats where he once was a star in college. A native of North Bergen, N.J., Mocco had a unique college career. He first went to the Univ. of Iowa, where he was an NCAA champion and runner-up. Mocco then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he won another NCAA title and runner-up position. He made the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in men’s freestyle, competing in Beijing, China, where he placed seventh. After training at Iowa, Oklahoma and the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, Mocco moved back east two years ago to take an assistant coaching job at Lehigh. The Olympic Trials are in Iowa City, where Mocco’s college career started. He recently won an exhibition bout against Nick Matuhin of Germany on the mats in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa, where he hopes to make his second Olympic Team in April.
32. Howe seeking to take the final step and make the Olympic Team – Andrew Howe has always set high goals for himself. A native of Cedar Lake, Ind., Howe went to the University of Wisconsin, where he has been a 2010 NCAA champion and a three-time All-American. While at college, he has become one of the best in the nation and world in freestyle. Howe was a Junior World bronze medalist in 2009. In 2010, he won the U.S. Open in freestyle and was second to Travis Paulson at the World Team Trials. In 2011, he placed second to Jordan Burroughs at the World Team Trials, who went on to win World gold. This year, Howe is taking an Olympic redshirt, and training with the Cliff Keen WC in Michigan. He was second at the Olympic Test event in London, England in December. This week, he placed second at one of the toughest events in the World, the Ukrainian Memorial International. His sights are next on the Olympic Trials in Iowa in April.
33. Kilgore making great strides in Olympic redshirt year – In 2011, Dustin Kilgore made history. The Berea, Ohio native won an NCAA title for Kent State at 197 pounds as a junior, the first wrestler in Kent State history to win the national title. He also entered the national freestyle scene, and placed a strong third at the U.S. World Team Trials, making the Senior national team. Kilgore came to the U.S. Olympic Training Center to train, and has taken an Olympic redshirt year to pursue his Olympic goals. He continues rapid improvement in freestyle, taking a second at the Dave Schultz Memorial and a gold medal at the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba. It will be interesting to see how he does at the Olympic Trials in April, and then in his college senior year back at Kent State next year.
34. Olympic redshirt year and move to heavyweight working for Hanke – Chad Hanke is making a name for himself in wrestling this year. An NCAA qualifier for Oregon State, the Dayton, Ore. native burst onto the national freestyle scene last year by placing second at the U.S. World Team Trials at 96 kg, losing only to eventual World bronze medalist Jake Varner. Hanke has taken an Olympic redshirt year from Oregon State, and continues his progress training at the Northwest Regional Training Center. He has moved up to compete at heavyweight, and had a breakthrough effort at the respected Ukrainian Memorial International this week, earning a silver medal. Now, it will be seen how he does against the big boys on the freestyle scene this year, then back in college next year.
35. Frayer’s return makes him a top Olympic team hopeful – Jared Frayer has always had a ton of wrestling talent. A native of Clearwater, Fla., Frayer went to college at Oklahoma, where he was an NCAA runner-up for the Sooners. After college, he quickly became a top U.S. freestyle wrestler, spending time training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. He also advanced his college coaching career by becoming as an assistant at Wisconsin. In 2010, he won his first U.S. Open title, and placed second at the World Team Trials, just missing his first U.S. team. He took the 2011 season off, but has made a comeback. Frayer became an assistant coach at his alma mater Oklahoma this year and returned to the mat. So far, he won the Sunkist Kids International Open and took a silver at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba. Will this be the year Frayer achieves his Olympic dream?
36. Adeline Gray seeks to add Olympic title to list of success – Denver native Adeline Gray has been very successful, very young. Daughter of a Denver police officer, Gray was a fast learner. While still in high school, Gray won a Junior World title in 2008 and was already ranked on the Senior level at 67 kg. In 2009, she made her first Senior World Team, placing fifth at the Worlds. Moving an hour south from Denver to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, she is making her first Olympic run there. Gray won a World bronze medal at 67 kg in 2011, her top achievement. She must drop to 63 kg to compete in an Olympic weight, where she was second in the World Team Trials last year. Out for a few months healing up, Gray won her first international event coming back, the respected Klippan Lady Open in Sweden. Now sights are on the Olympic Trials.
37. Tyler Graff wants to make most of Olympic redshirt year – The University of Wisconsin saw three of its top wrestlers skip this season to take Olympic redshirt seasons. Although NCAA champion Andrew Howe may be the most recognized, teammate Tyler Graff aims to be just as successful at the Olympic Trials in men’s freestyle. Also taking the redshirt is Badger Travis Rutt, who does Greco-Roman. A native of Loveland, Colo., Graff began competing on the Senior level in freestyle while still in high school. Graff competed at the Junior World Championships in 2007 and 2008. He has twice been an All-American for the Badgers, placing fifth in 2010 and 2011. Graff is having a good freestyle season at 60 kg, winning the Freestyle Trials Qualifier in Las Vegas in December, and taking a silver medal at the Semenov International in Russia last week.
38. Ali Bernard has her World medal, now wants Olympic gold – Ali Bernard has always been a bit ahead of her time. While she was still in high school in New Ulm, Minn., Bernard had already won a U.S. Senior National title in women’s freestyle. She is one of just two U.S. women to win two Junior World titles (2003, 2005). Bernard went to college in Canada, first at the Univ. of Regina, then at the Univ. of Alberta, winning a record five CIS Canadian college titles. After moving up to 72 kg, she made the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, placing fifth. Last year, she won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, her first Senior level medal. It also moves her directly into the finals series of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa in April. Bernard needs just two wins at the Trials to make the Olympic team, where she is aiming for her first Olympic medal. Her goal is to get gold.
39. First comes Pan Am Championships, next Pan Am Olympic Qualifier – This week, USA Wrestling and Colorado Springs hosts the Pan American Championships, the annual continental event for North, Central and South America. Many talented international athletes will compete in all three styles and the U.S. has a strong lineup. Many of the entries may also compete at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Kissimmee, Fla., March 23-25. In each weight class, only nations that haven’t qualified there can enter the tournament in Florida. The USA qualified nine of the 18 weights during the 2011 World Championships, the second most of all nations. The weight classes still needed to be qualified for the Olympics are in women’s freestyle (48kg), men’s freestyle (60kg, 66kg) and Greco-Roman (55kg, 60kg, 74kg, 84kg, 96kg, 120kg). Some of the matches held in Colorado Springs could be repeated in Kissimmee a month later, with Olympic berths up for grabs.
40. Shawn Bunch seeks to use speed and skill to reach Olympic podium – Who’s the fastest wrestler in America? Some people might suggest 2009 U.S. Freestyle World Team member Shawn Bunch. A native of Leavenworth, Kan., Bunch went to Edinboro for college and was an NCAA runner-up in 2005. Bunch quickly became one of the nation’s top freestyle wrestlers at 60 kg, winning the U.S. Open in 2008 and 2010, and making a World Team in 2009. He had chosen to make his Olympic run at the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus. His top competition could come from his workout partners, with No. 1 Reece Humphrey and college sensation Logan Stieber also top challengers at his weight class.
41. Minnesota natives Bisek, Betts seeking Olympic glory side-by-side – They both grew up in different cities in Minnesota, and became talented Greco-Roman wrestlers. They both went to Northern Michigan Univ., where they trained and competed for the U.S. Olympic Education Center team for six years. They are now both at the U.S. Olympic Training Center pursuing Olympic dreams. They are training partners and friends, and have been winning regularly lately. Andy Bisek at 74 kg was a 2011 World Team member and Chas Betts at 84 kg was a 2009 World Team member. Twice so far this year, they have won titles at the same event, first the Dave Schultz Memorial, then the Pan American Championships. Can a berth on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team be next for this talented duo?
42. Can nine-time World medalist Kristie Davis make her first Olympic team? – Kristie Davis is considered one of the greatest U.S. wrestlers in history. She has won two World titles (2000, 2003) and nine World medals. No other U.S. athlete except the great Bruce Baumgartner has nine World medals. An Albany, N.Y. native, Davis is still seeking her first Olympic Team berth after falling short at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials. At the age of 33, as a mother of two children, a wife and a full-time college student, it would seem that odds are against her. Davis finished her women’s college wrestling career in January for Oklahoma City Univ., where her husband Link is one of the coaches. It is not certain if she will wrestle at 63 kg or 72 kg at the Olympic Trials. Regardless, Kristie Davis is one of the toughest and most talented women wrestlers ever, and her run at the Olympic Trials in Iowa City is worth paying attention to.
43. Living the Dream Medal Fund offers $250,000 to U.S. Olympic wrestling champions – In 2009, leaders in the wrestling community created the Living the Dream Medal Fund. The concept is simple and very exciting – win a World or Olympic medal for the USA in wrestling and you receive a performance bonus. Donors across the nation have contributed to this fund. At the last three World meets, golds were worth $50,000, silvers were worth $25,000 and bronzes were worth $15,000. A total of nine wrestlers won these bonuses during the three years, with $200,000 distributed among them. The big payoff comes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. U.S. Olympic wrestling champions get $250,000, silver medalists get $50,000 and bronze medalists get $25,000. How much in bonuses will be distributed this summer in London?
44. A pinner with talent, Stephany Lee seeking Olympic glory –Hawaii native Stephany Lee has always been considered a dangerous wrestler, because of her ability to score a pin at any time in a match. The Hawaii native, who has a judo background, made her first impact on the sport as a college student for Missouri Valley College. She later moved to Colorado Springs to train full-time at the Olympic Training Center. Lee has some great achievements at 72 kg. She owns two University World titles and qualified for the 2008 and 2010 U.S. World Teams. Last weekend, she won her fourth career Pan American Championships title, winning in the finals, surprise, surprise, by pin after trailing in the match. She has had success against many of the best wrestlers in the world. Can Stephany Lee pull it all together at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials?
45. Twins Trent and Travis Paulson seeking Olympic Team at same weight class – As twin brothers from Council Bluffs, Iowa, Trent and Travis Paulson grew up as champions side-by-side. They went on to be stars together at Iowa State, where both were All-Americans and Trent was NCAA champion. They went together to coach and train at Nebraska, and have since returned to coach and train at Iowa State. Both have made U.S. Freestyle World Teams, Trent in 2009 and Travis in 2010. They call themselves TP1 and TP2. Both will pursue their Olympic dreams at the same weight class, 74 kg. In 2010, the Paulsons had to wrestle each other at the World Team Trials, with Travis winning that battle. There could be a situation where they compete against each other again during the Challenge Tournament at the Olympic Trials in Iowa City. Can a Paulson twin make the Olympic team? If so, which one will it be?
46. Tommy Rowlands makes sacrifices to pursue Olympic dream at new weight class – Tommy Rowlands has excelled in wrestling his entire life. A native of Columbus, Ohio, he attended Ohio State where he won two NCAA titles for the Buckeyes at heavyweight. He was also talented in freestyle, winning a 2005 World University Games title at 96 kg. Rowlands made his run for the Olympic team in 2008 at 120 kg. He was fifth at the 2007 World Championships, but was beaten by Steve Mocco in the 2008 Olympic Trials finals. After taking to pursue his business and family interests, Rowlands returned to the mats in 2010 with the Ohio Regional Training Center. He has made the sacrifice to drop to 96 kg where he is making this Olympic run. In 2011, Rowlands launched his own apparel company, Conquest, which provides performance products for the wrestling and MMA community.
47. Justin Ruiz extends career for chance at reaching Olympic dream – In the Greco-Roman program, Justin Ruiz is one of the nation’s most successful. A Salt Lake City, Utah native, he was an All-American for Nebraska before deciding to pursue Greco-Roman full-time. Since then, he has made six U.S. World Teams, including winning a World bronze medal in Budapest, Hungary in 2005. It has been the Olympic Games which have eluded him. In 2004, he was second in the Olympic Trials to two-time Olympian and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney. In 2008, he fell in the Olympic Trials finals series to Adam Wheeler, who later won an Olympic bronze medal. At age 32, he is a leader of the Greco-Roman program and one of the most talented and experienced. Will 2012 be the year when gets his Olympic opportunity?
48. Davison, Mich. natives Metcalf, Reader taking different paths to same dream – Brent Metcalf and Jon Reader attended the same powerhouse high school in Davison, Mich. Metcalf won six Junior National titles and Reader was a Junior National double champion in 2006. Metcalf’s college career began at Virginia Tech, but he transferred to Iowa when his coach Tom Brands took over that program. Metcalf was a two-time NCAA champion and three-time finalist for Iowa, which hosts the Olympic Trials. Reader went to rival Iowa State, where he capped his college career with an NCAA title in 2011. Metcalf made his first U.S. World Team in 2010 at 66 kg. Reader has competed on a U.S. University World Team and has moved up to 84 kg for freestyle, where he is a top Olympic hopeful at his weight. Although training in different colleges in Iowa, these athletes got their careers going at the same high school in Michigan.
49. World champion Smith making another run for Olympic team – Iris Smith has been to the top of the world, but seeks to reach Mount Olympus. A native of Georgia, after high school, Smith quickly became one of the nation’s top wrestlers in women’s wrestling. She came to Colorado Springs to train, even before there was a women’s wrestling program there. Smith made a big move in her professional and athletic career when she joined the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. In 2005, she became one of just five U.S. women to win a World title when she captured the gold in Budapest, Hungary at 72 kg. A veteran of the women’s program, she still seeks her first Olympic Team after falling short at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials. One of her best friends in Army Greco-Roman star Dremiel Byers, also a past World champion.
50. Ware seeks to continue improvement on way to Olympic berth – Teyon Ware enters the 2012 year as the nation’s top freestyle wrestler at 66 kg. A native of Edmond, Okla., he attended the Univ. of Oklahoma where he won two NCAA titles for the Sooners. Ware was talented in the international styles, and for a few years pursued his Olympic dream in Greco-Roman. However, Ware has switched back to freestyle, and moved East, where he trains with the Nittany Lion WC under Cael Sanderson and staff. 2011 was his best season ever, winning the U.S. Open title, followed by the U.S. World Team Trials. He was the 66 kg member of the 2011 U.S. World Team in Istanbul, Turkey. Ware is an explosive athlete with great skills, and has expanded his international experience in freestyle in recent seasons. Can he make it two years in a row at the top man in his weight class?