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Final six World Team spots to be filled in Phase II in Fargo
By Mike Finn
The 2014 FILA World Championships will be held in Tashkent, Azerbaijan, Sept. 8-14 … with championships held in 24 different weight classes and styles.
As of now, 18 of those spots on the United States’ World Team have been filled … following Phase I of the 2014 World Team Trials that were held in either Madison, Wisc., May 31-June 1 (for men’s and women’s freestyle), or Daytona Beach, Fla., June 13 (for Greco-Roman).
The remaining six weight classes — all non-Olympic weights and two in each style — will take place between July 19 and 24 in Phase II of the World Team Trials during the Cadet & Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
The following is a preview of those weight classes in the order they will be contested on three separate days. There will be a Challenge Tournament with the winner taking on the No. 1-seeded wrestler in a best 2-of-3 Championship Series. The No. 1-seeded wrestler will be the individual wrestler who won a championship in this year’s U.S. Open, which was held April 18-19 in Las Vegas, Nev. Wrestlers who finished in the top three at one of the Olympic weights are eligible to contend for one of these non-Olympic weights.
Women’s Freestyle (to be held Saturday, July 19)
55k/121 pounds — This used to be considered one of four Olympic weight classes in women’s freestyle before FILA announced changes this past winter. The woman-to-beat at this weight class is Helen Maroulis, who has appeared in two previous World Championships: claiming eighth in 2008 and fifth in 2011. Her top competition could come from Sarah Hildebrandt, who wrestles for King University and finished second to Maroulis in the 2014 U.S. Open.
60k/132 pounds — Jennifer Page, who finished third in both the 2012 Olympic Trials and 2013 World Team Trials at 63 kilograms (138.75 pounds), won the U.S. Open and will receive an automatic spot in the Championships Series. Among those who should offer the biggest threat to Page is Jenna Burkert, second in the U.S. Open, and Brieana Delgado, who claimed third place in the Open.
The following is a list of those who already qualified in women’s freestyle for the 2014 World Championships: 48k/105.5 – Alyssa Lampe; 53k/116.6 – Whitney Conder; 58k/127.5 – Ali Ragan; 63k/138.75 – Elena Pirozhkova; 69k/152 – Veronica Carlson; 75k/165 – Adeline Gray.
Greco-Roman (Tuesday, July 22, 2014)
71k/156.6 pounds — Justin Lester, a two-time World bronze medalist (2006 and ’07) and 2012 Olympian at 145.5 pounds, won this weight class at the U.S. Open. The 30-year-old native of Akron, Ohio, and five-time World Team member, defeated Patrick Smith in the finals of the 2014 U.S. Open. Other top contenders are Bo Beckman and Santiago Martinez.
80k/187 pounds — Kendrick Sanders, who represents the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Northern Michigan, won the U.S. Open. He defeated Aaron Sieracki, who like Lester, represents the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Aaron, by the way, is the brother of Keith Sieracki, ended up as No. 2 on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2000 after a successful appeal by Matt Lindland, the new U.S. Greco-Roman National Team Coach.
The following is a list of those who already qualified in Greco-Roman for the 2014 World Championships: 59k/130 – Spenser Mango; 66k/145.5 – RaVaughn Perkins; 75k/165 – Andrew Bisek; 85k/187 – Jordan Holm; 98k/216 – Caylor Williams; 130k/286 – Robby Smith.
Men’s Freestyle (Thursday, July 24)
61k/134 pounds — Jimmy Kennedy, the former All-American from Illinois, is ranked 14th in FILA’s international rankings, will be the top seed after beating 2012 bronze medalist Coleman Scott in the U.S. Open finals. The third-place finisher at the Open was another former Illinois All-American: B.J. Futrell. There is a chance that several wrestlers, who competed in Madison at an Olympic weight, could wrestle. That includes Matt McDonough, the former NCAA champ from Iowa, who finished third at 125.5 pounds at the Trials and fourth at the Open at 134 pounds, and 2011 World Team member Reece Humphrey, who finished fourth at 143.3 pounds.
70k/154 pounds — Nick Marable made international news in February when he became the first wrestler to defeat Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs in a Senior freestyle match. The former All-American from Missouri is now the man to beat at this weight after winning the U.S. Open. His biggest competition may come from Moza Fay and Kyle Ruschell, who finished second and third, respectively in the Open.
The following is a list of those who already qualified in men’s freestyle for the 2014 World Championships: 57k/125.5 – Tony Ramos; 65k/143 – Brent Metcalf; 74k/163 – Jordan Burroughs; 86k/189 – Ed Ruth; 97k/213 – Jake Varner; 125k/275.5 – Tervel Dlagnev.