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Final three spots filled for Pan-Am Olympic qualifier in Special Wrestle-off

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Updated: January 26, 2016

Photo: Alli Ragan (left) locked up a cradle en route to a pair of victories over 2015 World bronze medalist  Leigh Jaynes-Provisor at a Special Wrestle-off — Jan. 22 in Iowa City, Iowa — for one of three final spots on the 2016 U.S. Pan-American Olympic qualifying team. (Photo by Ginger Robinson)

By Gary Abbott, TheMat.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The final three spots for the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament team in women’s freestyle were determined as the Women’s Special Wrestle-offs were held Jan. 22 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the campus of the University of Iowa.

Winning their best-of-three Championship Series were Helen Maroulis (Huntington Beach, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) at 53 kg/116.5 lbs., Alli Ragan (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 58 kg/128 lbs. and Tamyra Mensah (Katy, Texas/Titan Mercury WC) at 69 kg/152 lbs.

The first matches of the series was held in the Dan Gable Wrestling Center on Friday morning. The second match of each series were held Friday evening on the competition mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, prior to the start of the Iowa vs. Purdue Big Ten dual.

Ragan, who has competed on the last three U.S. World Teams, defeated 2015 World bronze medalist Leigh Jaynes-Provisor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) won in two straight matches.

In the second match, Ragan scored a takedown in each period to score a 4-0 victory over Jaynes-Provisor.

The series opened with a 3-0 win by Ragan in the morning session, with a takedown and a point when Jaynes-Provisor did not score on the shot clock.

“That is why I came here to Iowa. Trained a few days, then tapered, made weight, then here’s the big show. I was excited. I haven’t wrestled Leigh since 2012. I knew she was a great opponent, a World bronze medalist. They were great matches, both of them. She is really strong. You have to be in good position all the time with her,” said Ragan.

Tamyra Mensah (right) controlled 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller and won both bouts at 152 pounds in the Special Wrestle-off in Iowa City. (Ginger Robinson photo)

Tamyra Mensah (right) controlled 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller and won both bouts at 152 pounds in the Special Wrestle-off in Iowa City. (Ginger Robinson photo)

Mensah, who is No. 2 on the Women’s National Team this year, defeated Randi Miller in two straight.

In the second match, Mensah scored a takedown in the opening seconds, then added a point when Miller was put on the shot clock later in the period for a 3-0 lead at break. Miller got a point in the second period when Mensah was penalized for fleeing the hold

The first match held in the morning was a tight 2-1 win by Mensah, with a key second-period takedown the difference.

“It was very tough. I didn’t have to beat her in a finals, where I usually meet her. To try to beat her two times in a row on the same day is really tough. It is hard on the body, but I was expecting it. I am glad I was able to hold my own,” said Mensah.

Maroulis, a 2015 World champion and three-time World medalist, defeated 2015 World Team member Whitney Conder (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP), by a 10-0 technical fall in the morning session. Conder forfeited the second match, so there was no bout during the evening session, giving Maroulis the series, two matches to none.

Helen Maroulis

Helen Maroulis

“Anytime you have an opportunity to wrestle in competition, it’s always great. I was really excited for this wrestle-off. Whitney is a great opponent. She has been on the World Team the last two years at that weight. I knew she was going to be a challenge. I went out there and really trusted my training and my coaching from Valentin (Kalika). I put a lot of moves together, and they worked out for me,” said Maroulis.

Under approved USA Wrestling procedures, a past World medalist could challenge a 2015 World Team member in the non-qualified Olympic weight classes.

There was no Special Wrestle-off series at 63 kg/138.75 lbs., as has been previously announced.

2012 World champion and three-time World medalist Elena Pirozhkova of the Titan Mercury WC withdrew her challenge against 2015 World Team member Erin Clodgo of the Sunkist Kids at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Clodgo will therefore represent the United States at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament.

The Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, set for Frisco, Texas on March 4-6, is one of the most important events of the year for American wrestlers. The top two place-winners in each weight class qualify their nation to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

WOMEN’S SPECIAL WRESTLE-OFF

At Iowa City, Iowa, January 22

Best of Three Series

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Helen Maroulis (Huntington Beach, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) dec. Whitney Conder (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP), two matches to none
Bout One – Maroulis tech. fall Conder, 10-0, 2:40
Bout Two – Maroulis by forfeit over Conder

58 kg/128 lbs. –Alli Ragan (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) dec. Leigh Jaynes-Provisor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), two matches to none
Bout One – Ragan dec. Jaynes-Provisor, 3-0
Bout Two – Ragan dec. Jaynes-Provisor, 4-0

69 kg/152 lbs. –Tamyra Mensah (Katy, Texas/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Randi Miller (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP), two matches to none
Bout One – Mensah dec. Miller, 2-1
Bout Two – Mensah dec. Miller, 3-1

Exhibition Match
58 kg/128 lbs. –Randi Beltz, St. Louis, Mo. (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Lauren Louive, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC), 10-0

U.S. Women’s Team for Pan American Olympic Qualifying Tournament
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Alyssa Lampe, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Helen Maroulis, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
58 kg/128 lbs. – Alli Ragan (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Erin Clodgo, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
69 kg/152 lbs. – Tamyra Mensah (Katy, Texas/Titan Mercury WC)
The USA is already qualified at 75 kg/165 lbs., so will not enter an athlete in this event.

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