[COVER PHOTO: TONY ROTUNDO (WRESTLERSAREWARRIORS.COM]
Part Four in a series of previews for the Olympic Trials
Today’s preview will cover day two of the Olympic Trials on Sunday, April 10th. Here are the previous installments for the first day: part one, part two and part three. This preview will cover the two lightest women’s weights of 48kg and 53kg, as well as the lightest men’s freestyle weight of 57kg. Each preview will start out with a list of qualifiers at the weight, but please note that athletes are not locked into a weight and some may not compete for various reasons. This will not be known until weigh-ins are completed on Saturday evening. Every competitor that shows up and makes weight will be seeded, which in most cases guarantees a first round bye for the top seeds, depending on how large the bracket is.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR APRIL 10TH
Men’s freestyle (57 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg)
Women’s freestyle (48 kg, 53 kg, 75 kg)
Greco-Roman (75 kg and 130 kg)
8:00 a.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Preliminaries through Challenge Tournament finals on NBC LiveExtra
5:00 p.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Best two of three Championship Series on NBC Sports Network
48kg Women’s Freestyle
This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics, and no one sits in the finals.
2015 World Team member – Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids)
Past World Team member – Victoria Anthony (Titan Mercury WC)
Past Olympic Team member – Clarissa Chun (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Cody Pfau (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Erin Golston (New York AC/OTC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Breonnah Neal (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Nicole Woody (Terrapin WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Marina Doi (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Regina Doi (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Candace Workman (Titan Mercury WC)
WCWA Nationals silver medalist at 101 – Sarah Allen (Cumberlands)
WCWA Nationals fourth place at 101 – Ashley Iliff (King)
WCWA Nationals bronze medalist at 109 – Tayler Resuriz (McKendree)
2016 Last Chance OTT Qualifier champion – Alesha Zappitella
2016 Last Chance Qualifier runner-up – Brittney Taylor (Omaha)
This is one of the holdovers from the old Olympic weights. Given how this quad has went, it appears to continue to be a three-woman battle. Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids) has been the world team rep each of the past three years. She has two bronze medals on the senior level (2012 and 2013) as well as two on the junior level (2007 and 2008). Last year was the first time she lost to an American since the 2012 Olympic Team Trials. At the Dave Schultz, Clarissa Chun (Sunkist Kids) beat Lampe 6-4 in the semis. Chun was the person who qualified America for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics at this weight. She would go on to wrestle for bronze both years, winning it in London. She would up losing 8-0 in the finals to Victoria Anthony (Titan Mercury WC).
Lampe wound up avenging the loss to Chun at the Open with a pin in the semis, but fell to top seed Anthony 6-4 in the finals. However, as has been the case the past three years, Anthony could not get past Lampe in the world team trials finals. Anthony is a two-time junior world champ, making the team four times and also making two university teams. However, her only senior level world team was in 2013 at the old non-Olympic weight of 51kg. She was the Pan Am champ in 2014 and most recently won the Klippan Open in February, pushing to her No. 11 in the world. Chun beat Anthony 2-1 in a slow-placed match of shot clock points at the Farrell in November. But Anthony would avenge that loss with a 6-4 win in the Schultz finals.
There is a longstandng rivalry between Erin Golston (New York AC/OTC) and Cody Pfau (Titan Mercury WC). Golston made four junior world teams, winning two bronzes and a silver, as well as being on the 2014 University team. They had a very controversial match at the Senior Nationals/OTT Qualifier in December, in which it seemed like Golston won by tech but a continuation of action allowed Pfau to finish off a pin. Golston then beat two-time WCWA champ Pfau by a 12-2 technical superiority victory in the University finals two weeks ago.
Two losses may affect Pfau’s grip on the five seed: one to Breonnah Neal (later avenged in the WCWA finals) and getting pinned by Nicole Woody (Terrapin WC) at the Schultz. Woody also avenged a loss to Neal in third place match at Senior Nationals there, so she may end up being the five if pre-seeds hold.
Marina Doi (Titan Mercury WC) and Regina Doi (Titan Mercury WC) have room to grow into this weight. Regina made three cadet world teams and has wrestled in the last two junior Pan Am championships. Marina has three cadet world medals to her name and a junior world bronze in her two years on that team; she helped King win their third straight team title with a WCWA championship at 101 pounds. Their King teammate Ashley Iliff (King) is also qualified, along with WCWA medalists Sarah Allen (Cumberlands) and Tayler Resuriz (McKendree).
Candace Workman (Titan Mercury WC) qualified for WTT last year and was fifth at the 2013 WTT. Alesha Zappitella and Brittney Taylor (Omaha) made the finals of the last chance qualifier to bring the bracket size to as big as 15.
53kg Women’s Freestyle
This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics, and no one sits in the finals.
2015 World Team member, 53kg – Whitney Conder (U.S. Army WCAP)
2015 World Team member, 55kg – Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids)
Past World Team member – Jessica Medina (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Grand Prix of Spain silver medalist – Carlene Sluberski (New York AC)
2015 Bill Farrell International silver medalist – Michaela Hutchison (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Haley Augello (New York AC/OTC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Sarah Hildebrandt (New York AC/OTC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Deanna Betterman (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Sharon Jacobson (U.S. Army WCAP)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Katherine Fulp-Allen (New York AC/OTC)
WCWA Nationals gold medalist at 116 – Samantha Klingel (King)
WCWA Nationals bronze medalist at 116 – Cady Chessin (Menlo College)
WCWA Nationals fourth place at 116 – Shelby Morrison (Oklahoma City)
2016 University Nationals runner-up at 53 kg – Amy Fearnside (Titan Mercury WC)
2016 University Nationals runner-up at 55 kg – Rachel Archer (Oklahoma City )
2016 Last Chance OTT Qualifier champion – Dajan Treder (Jimmie WC)
2016 Last Chance Qualifier runner-up – Christina Powell (Missouri Valley)
This is one of the deepest and most intriguing weights, with many of the top competitors at 55kg coming down for the Olympic year. Chief among them is Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids), top-ranked in the UWW rankings at the higher non-Olympic weight after winning her first senior level world championship in Las Vegas this past September. Maroulis won the 53kg division at the Golden Grand Prix in November, but that was with a +2kg allowance. She has not been down to weight this low since early 2009 at the World Cup and Dave Schultz Memorial.
The world team rep at this weight the past two years has been Whitney Conder (U.S. Army WCAP), a very strong defensive counter wrestler. Maroulis defeated Conder 10-0 at special wrestle-off for the Pan Am qualifier but decided not to go. In her stead, Conder failed to make the finals, unable to qualify again after not wrestling for a medal in Vegas. Conder was the champion at the Bill Farrell event back in November. She has a Pan Am Games gold medal to her credit from a year ago, as well as being a junior world champ in 2007.
The runner-up to Conder at last year’s World Team Trials was Michaela Hutchison (Titan Mercury WC), an assistant coach at McKendree University. Hutchison’s low sweep single is her No. 1 takedown, and then on top she runs a bar arm and half that is devastating in domestic competition. She was a three-time WCWA champ at Oklahoma City and has been slowly descending in weight, coming down from 58kg in 2014, but despite that Conder got the best of her five times last year. As we all know, it is very hard to beat a good wrestler that many times in a row and could be reversed if this semi comes to pass.
Ranked fourth in the pre-seeds is Haley Augello (New York AC/OTC), on an Olympic redshirt this year. She just won University Nationals and was silver behind Hutchison in December. It is unclear if the former WCWA and cadet world champ will stay up or drop to 48kg for Iowa City. She may end up being seeded even lower if she drops.
Sitting in the five slot is Katherine Fulp-Allen(New York AC/OTC), making a strong recovery from injury. She avenged a 3-2 quarterfinal loss at Senior Nationals to Sarah Hildebrandt (New York AC/OTC) with a 4-2 Schultz finals win. Fulp-Allen is a veteran who won University worlds in 2008 and has been active on the senior level ever since.
At No. 6 is two-time WCWA champ Sarah Hildebrandt (New York AC/OTC), dropping down from 55kg. She was a four-time WCWA finalist for King and made two junior world teams, as well as a university world team. Hildebrandt won the Pan Am championships at 55kg in 2013 and 2015, and was third at last year’s WTT. She was runner-up to Helen Maroulis at WTT in 2014 and fourth in 2013.
Also dropping down from 55kg is Sharon Jacobson (U.S. Army WCAP). She was the WTT runner-up last year at the higher weight and won Open titles ten years apart: 2006 and 2015. Carlene Sluberski (New York AC) was third at last year’s Open and WTT. Sluberski was on the 2011 junior world team and brought home silver from last year’s Pan Am championships.
Deanna Betterman (Sunkist Kids) is a former world teamer coming down in weight. She was 63kg on the 2007 junior world team, and then twice wrestled for bronze as a 59kg on the 2008-09 world teams. Betterman won Pan Ams in 2010 and qualified with her fourth place finish at Senior Nationals. Jessica Medina (Sunkist Kids) also has past world team experience at the old non-Olympic weight of 51kg.
WCWA and University Nationals added five competitors to the field, all of whom could provide early-round tests to the high seeds. The final qualifiers from last week were Dajan Treder (Jimmie WC) and Christina Powell (Missouri Valley).
57kg Men’s Freestyle
This weight is qualified for the Olympics, but no one sits in the finals.
2015 World Team member – Tony Ramos (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
2012 Olympic bronze medalist – Coleman Scott (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Bill Farrell International champion – Tyler Graff (New York AC/Scarlet Knight WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Daniel Dennis (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Erkin Tadzhimetov (New York AC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Nathan Tomasello (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Joe Colon (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Angel Escobedo (New York AC)
2016 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Alan Waters (Missouri Wrestling Foundation)
2016 NCAA D1 champion at 125 – Nico Megaludis (Penn State/Nittany Lion WC)
2016 NCAA D1 champion at 133 – Nahshon Garrett (Cornell/Titan Mercury WC)
2016 Last Chance OTT Qualifier champion – Obe Blanc (Titan Mercury WC)
With the weight changes in 2014, this is the “catch weight” in between the old 55kg and 60kg classes. Although it is now the lightest Olympic (and world) weight in men’s freestyle, it used to live as the third lightest class. The last time it existed was at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, won by an American in Kendall Cross. America also won the lightest MFS weight back in 2008, when Henry Cejudo became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in the history of USA Wrestling.
That was then, this is now. For the past two years, 57kg has been held down by Tony Ramos (Titan Mercury/Hawkeye WC). Ramos is your likely number one seed and qualified the weight with a 13-2 technical superiority victory in the semifinals of the Pan Am Olympic qualifier in Frisco last month. That placement earned him a ranking of 17 from UWW. He rolled through a leg lace to finish off Pedro Mejias Rodriguez of Venezuela. The 2014 NCAA champ is 7-0 on the senior level against the field of qualifiers and has never lost a match in Carver Hawkeye Arena (34-0).
In my estimation there are four main threats to knock Ramos off his perch and become our Olympian. Coleman Scott (Sunkist Kids) was the bronze medalist at 60kg in London. The UNC head coach has not made a world team since 2012, but was able to win the Pan Am championships this year at 61kg. Scott is among the largest competitors in this weight and you can never count out a former Olympic medalist, particularly in the year of the Games. He is ranked 18th in the world by UWW up at 61kg.
Scott will likely be the four or five seed, and his opponent if the seeds change as I expect them to will be the other 2012 Olympian. None of the athletes Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist Kids) beat to win the Olympic Trials four years ago are in this bracket. Sam’s father Dave and uncle Sam were both two-time Olympians (68 and 72), albeit in Greco-Roman, so his genes indicate he has a chance to make the team again this year. Haze was the Pan Am champ at 57kg this year and is currently the No. 6 pre-seed.
With those two potentially on the same side as Ramos, we turn our attention to the opposite side of the bracket and the 2/3 seeds. Dan Dennis (Titan Mercury/Hawkeye WC) should be the three seed after winning the Senior Nationals in December. Dennis lost to Scott 11-1 in the third place match of the US Open last May, since then Dennis won 8-6 in the world team trials semis and 3-2 in the semis of the OTT qualifier.
Sitting in the No. 2 slot is Tyler Graff (NYAC/Scarlet Knight WC) by virtue of his Bill Farrell title in November. He ran roughshod over Dennis 11-0 there and also dominated to a win at the Brazil Cup in December. Graff was third in the WTT challenge tourney last year, but the two opponents he beat will not be competing this year. He qualified for those trials by taking the 61kg crown at the Northern Plains. Other titles he won last year included the University Nationals and Dave Schultz Memorial. The four-time All American for Wisconsin was 7th in last year’s US Open.
Sitting in the fifth pre-seed is Erkin Tadzhimetov (New York AC), a former competitor for Uzbekistan. He was fourth at Senior Nationals and also competed at the Medved Prizes in February. However, he might be overtaken by Joe Colon (Titan Mercury WC), a former All American at Northern Iowa who was runner-up at last year’s WTT. Colon has been battling injuries and will need to be at full strength if he wants to knock off Ramos as he did at the 2013 Midlands.
2015 NCAA champ Nathan Tomasello (Titan Mercury WC) had an impressive qualifying season and won multiple Fargo titles while in high school. He made two junior trials finals and is known for his left side high crotch. Other NCAA champions joining him in the field are Nico Megaludis (Penn State/Nittany Lion WC) and Nahshon Garrett (Cornell/Titan Mercury WC). Megaludis was in the WTT challenge tourney finals in 2014 and Garrett was the University runner-up that same year.
Angel Escobedo (New York AC) has not had the strongest qualifying season, but was third at the Trials last year and has placed as high as fifth in the world. Escobedo is a former NCAA champ for Indiana and made a junior world team in 2007 as well as a university world team in 2010. Escobedo was the Pan Am Games runner-up a year ago in Toronto.
The final two qualifiers were Alan Waters (Missouri Wrestling Foundation) and Obe Blanc (Titan Mercury WC). Waters competed in the 2013 Trials at 60kg and has had some impressive wins since November. He beat two-time Open finalist Andrew Hochstrasser 10-0 at the Farrell, former Minnesota All American Zach Sanders 9-3 at Senior Nationals, and then teched his way through the Schultz by a cumulative score of 47-5 in his four matches. Blanc won the Open in 2010 and 2013 and has three Pan Am silver medals to his name.