Roberts, much older & wiser, meets Hafizov again in Final X
Photo: Dalton Roberts (left) beat Ildar Hafizov at the 2023 U.S. Open...
By Mike Finn
FARGO, N.D. — The Fargodome for the past 22 years has been reserved as a place for young wrestlers to first make their names on the mat nationally in freestyle and Greco at the Junior and Cadet Nationals. But for five of six alums of this annual event, they used the raised mat in this indoor football facility at North Dakota State University to accomplish even more: qualify for the upcoming Senior-level 2014 FILA World Championships during Phase II of USA Wrestling Phase II of the World Team Trials.
Overall, seven of the 24 weight classes, which will take place in Tashkent, Uzebekistan, this September, including six non-Olympic weight classes were up for grabs. A complete recap of Phase II of the Trials will be featured in the upcoming issue of WIN, which will be printed Friday, Aug. 1.
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Starting on Saturday, July 19, Helen Maroulis and Randi Miller qualified at 121 and 152 pounds when they won the best 2-of-3 Championships that were held after a Challenge tournament was contested earlier that day. Maroulis, a 2007 Junior National champion and 2012 World silver medalist, easily defeated Sarah Hildebrandt by a pin and a technical fall at 121 pounds.
“I had to be really disciplined and have a lot of patience,” Maroulis said. “I just tried to get in a zone and just wrestle. Last year, it didn’t go my way at Worlds. This year, I’ll be ready.”
Miller, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist who had never competed in Fargo, will return to the World stage after she rallied to beat Veronica Carlson in two straight matches, 2-1 and 6-2 after losing the first match 3-0. On June 1, it appeared that Carlson had qualified for the World Team when Miller was unable to compete in Phase I of the Trials in Madison, Wisc., for this Olympic weight. But Miller, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, earned an extension to face Carlson in Fargo.
“I had a very slow start,” Miller said. “You can’t have a slow start against someone like Vonny, and I paid for it in the first match. I feel a lot better. I’m really glad I got an opportunity to wrestle here.”
There was a third women’s weight contested as Jenna Burkett defeated Briena Delgado, 8-2 and 11-1, at the non-Olympic weight class of 132 pounds. U.S. Open champ Jennifer Page was unable to compete in these Trials because of injury. She will have until Aug. 4 to face Burkett, another Fargo alum, in a special wrestle-off or concede the weight class to Burkett.
In Greco-Roman, the final two non-Olympic weight classes were earned on July 22 by two former Junior/Cadet National wrestlers. One was a veteran in two-time World bronze medalist and 2012 Olympian Justin Lester, who defeated Pat Smith, 9-0 and 2-1 for the 156-pound World berth. The other was a Greco newby, former NCAA Division III champion Joe Rau, who dropped 12 pounds since competing in the June 13 Phase I Trials in Daytona.
“I feel great — I love this new weight class,” said the 30-year-old Lester, who qualified for his seventh World Team. “I’ll be ready to go at Worlds. I’m going to try and get up on that podium again.”
“This is a dream come true,” said Rau, who competed at 85 kilograms or 188 pounds a month ago. “There have been some ups and downs, but this means so much to me and gives me a huge boost. I want to keep gaining experience and win a World medal.”
The two non-Olympic weight classes in men’s freestyle were completed on July 24, when Fargo alums and U.S. Open champs Jimmy Kennedy and Nick Marable swept Championship Series matches at 134 and 154 pounds, respectively.
Kennedy, a former NCAA All-American from Illinois, defeated 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott, 4-2 and 10-0.
“I’ve been telling myself I’m going to be on the podium at the Worlds in September,” Kennedy said. “This is just one steppingstone to get to this point. It feels good when you see all the hard work paying off for a good cause.”
Marable, the former Missouri All-American who is reportedly the first wrestler from Tennessee to make a World Team, defeated current Nebraska wrestler James Green, 2-1 and 8-2.
“This is awesome,” Marable said. “This is what I’ve been working on for so long. I’m pumped to be on the World Team. James Green is tough. I had to stick to my game plan and do what I’m good at.”
These wrestlers will join other wrestlers who qualified in Phase I of the Trials. In men’s freestyle, that includes 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.
Other Greco-Roman members include 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.
The five remaining women on the World Team are 48k/105.5 – Alyssa Lampe; 53k/116.6 – Whitney Conder; 58k/127.5 – Ali Ragan; 63k/138.75 – Elena Pirozhkova; 75k/165 – Adeline Gray.
For more comprehensive stories, quotes and photos of this event, make sure you get the next copy of WIN magazine, which will be printed Aug. 1. Click here to subscribe.
Women’s Freestyle (July 19)
55 kg/121 lbs.
Helen Maroulis (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Sarah Hildebrandt (Granger, Ind./King Univ.), pin (5:14) and TF 11-0
60 kg/132 lbs.
Jenna Burkert (Rocky Point, N.Y./New York AC) def. Briena Delgado (Fountain Inn, S.C./OKCU Gator RTC), 8-2 and TF 11-1
69 kg/152 lbs.
Randi Miller (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Veronica Carlson (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 0-3, 2-1, 6-2
Greco-Roman (July 22)
71 kg/156 lbs.
Justin Lester (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Pat Smith (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), 9-0 and 2-1
80 kg/176 lbs.
Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) def. Ben Provisor, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC), 1-0 and 1-0
Men’s Freestyle (July 24)
61 kg/134 lbs.
Jimmy Kennedy, Ann Arbor, Mich. (NYAC/Cliff Keen WC) def. Coleman Scott, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC), 4-2 and 10-0
70 kg/154 lbs.
Nick Marable, Columbia, Mo. (Sunkist Kids/Missouri WF) def. James Green, Willingboro, N.J. (Titan Mercury WC), 2-1 and 8-2