Johnson, Morris, Bommarito win Special Wrestle-off Series in Iowa to make U.S. World Beach Games Team
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
World Beach Games Special Wrestle-off winners: Jamel Johnson (men’s 70 kg), Eliana Bommarito (women’s Over 70 kg), Jamal Morris (men’s 80 kg). Photo courtesy of Ed Duncan.
MYSTIC, Iowa – The final three positions on the U.S. team that will compete in the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia in August were determined today at the Rathbun Lake Swim Area.
Winning best-of-three Special Wrestle-offs were Jamel Johnson of Jacksonville, N.C. (70 kg), Jamal Morris of Miami, Fla. (Men’s 80 kg) and Eliana Bommarito of Brighton, Mich. (Over 70 kg).
In Beach Wrestling, matches are one period which is three minutes long. The first wrestler to three wins the bout. You can win immediately with a throw to exposure. There is no overtime for tie matches, decided by criteria or referee decision.
The series between Johnson, the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals champion, and Mitchell Cook, who qualified the USA to compete in the World Beach Games at this weight class, needed to go the full three matches to determine the winner.
Johnson won the first match, 3-2. The wrestlers traded points, with Cook scoring on a snatch single takedown, followed by a Johnson two-on-one step out. Cook scored next on a step out from a body lock, then Johnson answered with a step out from an underhook. The deciding point was a step out caused by Johnson from double underhooks.
Cook claimed the second match, 2-2 by criteria in the full three minutes. Johnson scored the first two points on a throw for one, then a step out. Cook responded with the next two points, on a step out and then a double leg attack out of bounds.
In the deciding third bout, Johnson won with a spectacular throw at 2:09. The match was tied at 2-2 when Johnson hit the winning score on the edge. Johnson scored first on a double underhook step out, then Cook answered with a double leg to a step out. Cook took a 2-1 lead when Johnson went to his knee on a Cook attack. Johnson tied it with a double underhook to a step out. The deciding move was a body lock throw by Johnson on the edge under a fierce Cook attack, a close call that went Johnson’s way.
In the finals series of the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals, Johnson also needed three matches to defeat Cook, two matches to one.
Morris, the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals champion, needed just two matches, to defeat Ty Loethen of Columbia, Mo., who qualified the USA to compete in the World Beach Games at this weight class.
Morris won the first match on a throw at 2:32. Morris scored the first two points, on a step out and then a go behind for a takedown. Morris closed it out with a body lock, feet-to-back throw.
In the second match, Morris emerged with a 2-1 win. Loethen led 1-0 when Morris was penalized for negative wrestling. Morris tied it up when he forced a step out from a double underhook. The deciding point came on the edge during an exchange, where Loethen tried a throw but stepped out. No more points were scored in the bout.
Morris and Loethen, who both have competed in Beach World Series events overseas this year, had not met this season. Loethen had not entered the Senior Beach Nationals, which Morris won.
Bommarito, the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals champion, won her series in two straight matches over Isabeau Shalack of Oak Lawn, Ill., who qualified the USA to compete at the World Beach Games at this weight class.
This is the second time this year that Bommarito has beaten Shalack in two straight matches, after sweeping their series in two straight in the finals of the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals.
Bommarito won the first bout 3-0 on three one-point moves, two of which were from counter positions. She won the second match on a throw in just 13 seconds. Bommarito scored first when she shoved Shalack, who went to the sand. Right after, Bommarito pressured Shalack to the edge and finished it with a big throw.
Johnson, who competed at the Div. I level at UNC-Greensboro, went on to be a Senior National Team member in Greco-Roman competing for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. Morris was a Div. I wrestler for North Carolina State. Bommarito won the NJCAA Nationals this year competing for Indian Hills CC in Iowa.
The United States has qualified to compete in five of the eight weight classes at the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games, three in the women’s division and two in the men’s division. There were five UWW Beach World Series events used to qualify nations for the World Beach Games, three in 2022 and two in 2023.
According to the Athlete Selection Procedures for the World Beach Games, if the athlete who qualifies the USA for the World Beach Games also wins their weight class at the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals, that athlete makes the U.S. World Beach Games Team. However, if this does not happen, there will be a best-of-three series held between the athlete who qualified the weight and the 2023 Senior Beach Nationals champion at that weight class.
The two other women’s spots on the World Beach Games team had already been set, 2023 Senior Beach Nationals champion Jennesis Martinez of Albuquerque, N.M. at 50 kg and Mia Macaluso of Otisville, N.Y., the athlete who qualified the USA at 60 kg. USA Wrestling will submit its team to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee this week.
The World Beach Games Special Wrestle-off was held alongside the Kraken Beach Wrestling Championships, a USA Wrestling sanctioned event as part of the Beach Tour of America.
ANOC WORLD BEACH GAMES SPECIAL WRESTLE-OFF
At Mystic, Iowa, June 24
Best of three series results
Men’s 70 kg: Jamel Johnson, Jacksonville, N.C. dec. Mitchell Cook, Orland Park, Ill., 2 matches to 1
Bout One – Johnson dec Cook, 3-2, 1:31
Bout Two – Cook dec. Johnson, 2-1, 3:00
Bout Three – Johnson pin Cook, 2:09
Men’s 80 kg: Jamal Morris, Miami, Fla. dec. Ty Loethen, Columbia, Mo., 2 matches to 0
Bout One – Morris pin Loethen, 2:32
Bout Two – Morris dec. Loethen, 2-1, 3:00
Women’s Over 70 kg. Eliana Bommarito, Brighton, Mich. dec. Isabeau Shalack, Oak Lawn, Ill, 2 matches to 0
Bout One – Bommarito dec. Shalack, 3-0, 1:09
Bout Two – Bommarito pin Shalack, 0:13
2023 World Beach Games Team for the United States
(to compete in the World Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia, August 10-11 in Bali, Indonesia)
Women’s Beach Wrestling
50 kg – Jennesis Martinez, Albuquerque, N.M.
60 kg – Mia Macaluso, Otisville, N.Y.
Over 70 kg - Eliana Bommarito, Brighton, Mich.
Men’s Beach Wrestling
70 kg: Jamel Johnson, Jacksonville, N.C.
80 kg: Jamal Morris, Miami, Fla.