Carlson ready for the unexpected at World Championships

Updated: June 12, 2014

Editor’s Note: On May 31 and June 1, USA Wrestling hosted Phase I of the World Team Trials in Madison, Wisc., where 12 of the 24 spots on the 2014 World Team were filled in either men’s or women’s freestyle. Six Greco berths will be filled June 13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., while the remaining six spots over the three styles will be determined during the Junior/Cadet Nationals, July 19-24, in Fargo, N.D. In honor of this seven-week period of World Team Trials events, WIN is providing features on those who have qualified to compete in Uzbekistan in September.)

By Mike Finn

Veronica Carlson is ready for all comers at this September’s FILA World Championships because that was her mindset during Phase I of the 2014 World Team Trials, May 31, in Madison, Wisc.

After finishing second to 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller in the finals of the 2014 U.S. Open in April, Carlson expected to face Miller, who had earned a spot in the Championship Series at 69 kilograms (152 pounds) with her 3-1 win over Carlson during the Open … and only if Carlson won the Challenge tournament.

The only problem was that Miller failed to make weight at this weight class, leaving Carlson and Julia Salata as the top two wrestlers in the Alliant Energy Center, where Carlson eventually prevailed in both bouts, 9-2 and 4-0 … and earned Carlson her second straight Worlds appearance.

But moments later, Carlson admitted she spent most of her time prior to the Trials training to beat Miller.

“I want to say before my matches that my mentality would not change,” said Carlson, a 23-year-old native of Addison Trail, Ill. “That being said, much of my training this past month was focused specifically to beat (Miller) and her body type. When it did come into play, it’s not like I wasn’t trained for this competition. My other arsenal of skills came out.”

But Carlson believes she handled Salata, who competed at 75 kilograms during the Trials, because of her ability to adapt.

“I feel like I’m one of those wrestlers who, even if I have not wrestled them before, can adjust from one match to another,” said Carlson. “I don’t come into a match thinking this is what I have to do. I am able to be fluid in that aspect.”

Carlson now hopes to use that mentality at this year’s Worlds, after going 1-1 in last year’s World tournament in Budapest, Hungary.

“I thought about it as more of a grand tournament than I should have. I did not treat it as just another tournament,” said Carlson. “I have to be confident in my ability and the team. I think the team aspect has been growing a lot and helps free everyone up. I’m going to win a World medal and I’m going to win a gold medal.