MARQUETTE—Nineteen athletes from the United States Olympic Education Center’s Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle wrestling teams placed eighth or better at the ASICS United States National Wrestling Championships April 4-7 in Las Vegas.
By the end of the competition, 15 USOEC men and five women had placed in the top seven to qualify for the World Team Trials. They’ll return to Las Vegas in June for the competition.
Northern Michigan University junior Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill.) captured silver in the 60-kilogram weight class. His only loss in tournament action came in the championship round where he was pinned by Joe Warren (New York Athletic Club) at 1:23.
NMU junior Cheney Haight (Drem, Utah) defeated USOEC teammate Kevin Lozano (Jefferson, La.) by a 3-0, 1-2 and 4-0 decision to earn bronze in the 74-kilogram weight class.
Lozano’s loss gave him a 4-2 tournament record and a fourth place finish. NMU senior Jacob Curby (LaGrange, Ill.) and junior Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn.) also earned fourth. NMU senior Jacob Curby (LaGrange, Ill) pinned 2004 Olympian Oscar Wood in the 66-kg weight class and junior Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn.) defeated the U.S. Army’s Aaron Sieracki at 84 kg to earn fourth place finishes.
Earning fifth place were NMU sophomore Spenser Mango (St. Louis, Mo.) at 55 kg, who won by decision over Nate Engel (St. Helena, Calif.), who trains at the USOEC as a non-resident athlete; freshman Jake Swensen (Moroni, Utah) at 60 kg; senior Jake Fisher (Platte City, Mo.) at 74 kg; and freshman Jake Plamann (Appleton, Wis.).
Senior Marco Lara (Long Beach, Calif.) lost by a 5-2, 6-0 decision to Wood at 66 kg and freshman Talon Knox (Salt Lake City, Utah) was pinned by Fisher at 74 kg to finish sixth place in their respective weight classes.
NMU juniors Kerry Regner (Darlington, Pa.) and Tim Bleau (Ishpeming) took seventh at 60 kg and 66 kg, respectively.
Also competing for the USOEC’s Greco-Roman team were NMU freshman Peter Gounaridis (Leominster, Mass.) and junior Andrew Bisek (Chaska, Minn.) who had respective 0-2 and 1-2 tournament records.
USOEC head Greco-Roman coach Ivan Ivanov believes the tournament results show the strength of the USOEC.
“The USOEC’s performance at Las Vegas is solid evidence of what the USOEC has to offer,” said Ivanov. “It says a lot when one team takes 20 guys to a tournament with 60-70 competitors and 15 of your wrestlers advance to the next competition. I think we set a record for the number of guys we qualified for trials, and we’re not done yet. We can still qualify more of the guys at University Nationals and the regional competition before World Team Trials.”
USOEC wrestler Harry Lester (Akron, Ohio), 60 kg, did not participate in the tournament, but he will join the rest of his teammates at the World Team Trials as he already qualified to compete by winning bronze at the World Championships last year.
On the women’s side, NMU graduate student Jen Pavlik (Lewes, Del.) was fourth in the 72 kg weight class when she was pinned by Stephany Lee of Missouri Valley College.
Freshman Alyssa Lampe (Tomahawk, Wis.) earned fifth place when she beat USOEC teammate Liz Short (Lombard, Ill.) at 48 kg. Short finished the tournament in sixth place with a 4-2 record.
NMU seniors Amy Borgnini (Terre Haute, Ind.) and Whitney Conder (Puyallup, Wash.) battled for seventh place at 55 kg. Borgnini won by a 3-1, 1-0 decision while Conder’s loss gave her an eighth-place finish.
Freshman Shyla Iokia (Maui, Hawaii) finished seventh, defeating Samantha Phillips (Spartan Wrestling Club).
At 55 kg, freshman Cherae Pascua (Oahy, Hawaii) went 2-2 while junior Dany Hedin (Kailua, Hawaii) finished with a 1-2 record. Sophomore Nicole Darrow (Lanesboro, Mass.) and freshmen Amanda Breezely (Midland, Ohio) left the tournament with 0-2 records.