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World champion Jordan Burrough earns first Olympic berth on one match
By Mike Finn
IOWA CITY, Iowa — All nine wrestlers who won championships at the 2012 Olympic Trials needed just two victories to win their best of three Championship Series.
Jordan Burroughs, the 2011 World champion in men’s freestyle at 163 pounds needed just one.
That’s because the former two-time NCAA champion from Nebraska only had to break a sweat for one match against rival Andrew Howe for a 4-2, 1-2, 1-0 victory in the first match.
There was no second match because Howe, the 2010 NCAA champion from Wisconsin, was forced to default their second bout after suffering a knee injury at the end of their first match.
“It was kind of anti-climactic,” said Burroughs, who one year removed from an incredible 2011 year that saw him claim a second NCAA title, the Hodge Trophy and a World title in Istanbul, Turkey last summer. “I didn’t want it to end this way. I’m happy being on the team. Being on the team was my main goal at the beginning of the season and I did that. So despite the odds and despite the way I got on the team, I made it on the team.”
With only three of the seven men’s freestyle weight competed on Saturday in the University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Burroughs will be joined on the 2012 London Olympics team with Jake Varner, who won two NCAA championship for Iowa State before capturing a bronze medal in last year’s Worlds.
“I don’t really care where it happens as long as I was able to do something like this,” said Varner, who defeated former Ohio State heavyweight Tommy Rowlands who dropped down to 211.5 pounds for the Trials. “It was cool to come back here and wrestle in front of these fans, but it doesn’t really matter where it happens to me.”
The University of Iowa and the Iowa City area has more than lived up to its commitment of making the 2012 Olympic Trials special after a record a record 13,520 fans watched the first session on Saturday afternoon, which was broke by the 13,750 that showed up Saturday night … despite the fact that no former Hawkeye was competing.
Actually almost all the championships proved to anti-climatic, including both women’s freestyle weights where Kelsey Campbell (121 pounds) and Stephany Lee (158.5) upset a pair of 2011 World team wrestlers, Helen Maroulis and Ali Bernard, in two straight matches.
“It’s surreal,” said Campbell, who broke down immediately in tears after completing her 2-0, 0-1, 1-0 victory in the second match. “I feel like I am dreaming, like is this real? It’s crazy. It’s awesome. A lot of people believed, but I think I had to go out there and do it to believe. It had to happen this way. It’s a great feeling.”
The toughest thing that Lee had to do was celebrate when she fell on her back after trying a back flip after beating Bernard, 3-1, 6-0, in her championship.
“It’s a judo thing,” said Lee, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii. “It’s called an uchi mata. I’m a black belt in judo and I actually started wrestling to improve my judo and in turn I loved wrestling more and judo ended up helping me wrestle instead.”
In Greco-Roman wrestling, there was definitely and Army pride as three of the four championships were won by the Army’s World Class Athlete Program: 121-pound Spenser Mango, 145.5-pound Justin Lester and heavyweight Dremiel Byers.
This marks the second straight Olympics for Mango and Byers while Byers is a two-time bronze World medalist.
“I’ve wrestled almost all the top guys in the world in my weight class,” said Mango, who beat Max Nowry in two straight matches; the first coming by a pin in the first period. “I know what I need to do, just really get out there and get after it. You can’t make any mistakes on the world level; the guys are too good.”
Lester, who was upset by high school wrestler Jake Deitchler at this weight four years ago for the 2008 Olympic berth, defeated another Minnesota wrestler C.P. Schlatter, who switch from freestyle to Greco in 2011.
“I’m pretty much eight years deep into it,” said Lester, who went by the first name Harry in 2008. “That’s a pretty long time to be in to it compared to some of the guys like C.P. who’s studied for two or three years.”
“It’s my last time to do it, so I came here and show them who I am and show them what I can do and just leave it all out on the mat,” said Byers. “Don’t walk off the mat fresh. Don’t walk off the mat and watch a lesser guy get his hand raised and wonder what happened. I know I did everything I can do to get this done. That’s the point. That’s the way I’m going in to it.”
In the other Greco weight class, Chas Betts defeated fellow Minnesota Storm club match Jordan Holm at 185 pounds.
In the other men’s freestyle final, former Oklahoma State national champion Coleman Scott defeated Logan Stieber, the 2012 NCAA titlist from Ohio State at 132 pounds.
The only problem for Scott is that he needs to first see if Shawn Bunch, Reece Humphrey or perhaps himself can qualify the weight for the Olympics. Bunch is expected to compete in China at a qualifier next weekend. If that does not happen, U.S. coach Zeke Jones will choose between the three for a final qualifier in Finland two week from now.
The 2012 Olympic Trials will finish up Sunday with another Challenge tournament in the morning and a Championship Series in the evening … at the nine remaining Olympic weights: 121, 145.5, 185 and heavyweight in men’s freestyle; 105 and 138.78 in women’s freestyle and 132, 163 and 211.5 in Greco.
60 KG / 132 POUNDS
Match 1 – Coleman Scott (Gator Wrestling Club) dec. Logan Stieber (NYAC), 3-0,1-0
Match 2 – Scott (Gator Wrestling Club) dec. Stieber, 2-0,0-1,2-0)
74 KG / 163 POUNDS
Match 1 – Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) dec. Andrew Howe (NYAC), 4-2,1-2,1-0
Match 2 – Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) won by injury default over Andrew Howe (NYAC)
96 KG / 211.5 POUNDS
Match 1 – Jake Varner (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Tommy Rowlands (Sunkist Kids) (Dec 0-1,2-0,1-0)
Match 2 – Varner dec. Rowlands, 2-0, 1-0
55 KG / 121 POUNDS
Match 1 – Kelsey Campbell (Sunkist Kids) dec. Helen Maroulis (NYAC), 0-2, 1-0, 2-1
Match 2 – Campbell (Sunkist Kids) dec. Maroulis, 2-0, 0-1, 1-0
72 KG/158.5 POUNDS
Match 1 – Stephany Lee (Sunkist Kids) dec. Ali Bernard (Gator Wrestling Club), 3-1, 5-2
Match 2 – Lee (Sunkist Kids) dec. Bernard (Gator Wrestling Club), 3-1, 6-0
55 KG / 121 POUNDS
Match 1 – Spenser Mango (Army) pinned Max Nowry (NYAC), 1:53
Match 2 – Mango (Army) dec. Max Nowry, 1-0, 3-0
66 KG / 145.5 POUNDS
Match 1 – Justin Lester (Army) dec. CP Schlatter (MN Storm), 1-0, 2-0
Match 2 – Lester (Army) dec. Schlatter, 2-0, 1-2, 1-0
84 KG / 185 POUNDS
Match 1 – Chas Betts (MN Storm) dec. Jordan Holm (MN Storm), 1-0, 0-3, 2-0
Match 2 – Betts dec. Holm, 2-0, 2-0
120 KG / 264.5 POUNDS
Match 1 – Dremiel Byers (Army) dec. Steve Andrus (Michigan Wrestling Club), 1-0, 1-0
Match 2 – Byers dec. Andrus (Michigan Wrestling Club), 2-0, 2-0