MARQUETTE – The United States Olympic Education Center Greco-Roman wrestlers earned nine top-three finishes at the Sunkist International Open competition in Chandler, Ariz. The USOEC women’s freestyle wrestlers also competed at the event.
Northern Michigan University junior Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill.) competed against his coach and two-time Olympian Jim Gruenwald (Greendale, Wis.) in the Greco-Roman championship match at 60 kilograms.
“It was very weird having to wrestle him [Gruenwald] at a competition because you keep thinking he is going to coach you and then you have to compete against him,” said Betterman, who came away with the decision over Gruenwald (7-1, 5-0).
Another standout performance came from NMU junior Cheney Haight (Drem, Utah), who took first place at 74 kg against senior Jake Fisher (Platte City, Mo.). Haight won by decision over Fisher (1-1, 1-1, 3-1). At 74 kg, USOEC freshman Talan Knox (Salt Lake City, Utah) and junior Kevin Lozano (Jefferson, La.) placed third and fourth, respectively.
Junior Spencer Mango (St. Louis, Mo.) competed at 55 kg in the championship round. He lost the decision (0-4, 5-0, and 4-1) and ended up in second place after he was called for a controversial offensive foul in the third period. Coach Gruenwald said the incident “reinforces what we push in practice: ‘Get so good you take the ref, your opponent and the opposing coach out of the match!’”
Other USOEC top finishes included post-baccalaureate student Nate Engle (St. Helena, Calif.), fourth place at 55 kg; senior Jacob Curby (LaGrange, Ill.) and sophomore John Dibala (Silverton, Ore.), third and fourth at 66 kg; freshman Peter Gounaridis (Leominster, Mass.), third at 96 kg; and junior Chas Betts (St. Michael, Minn.), second at 84 kg.
Coach Ivan Ivanov said, “If our wrestlers were allowed to earn points for the USOEC Greco program, we would have won the team title.” But points were awarded to USOEC athlete’s former wrestling clubs for which they are still sponsored by and associated with.
In the women’s freestyle competition, NMU freshman Alyssa Lampe (Tomahawk, Wis.) made it to the semifinal round at 48kg and finished the tournament with a record of 3-2.
“She is making ground on the top wrestlers in her weight class,” said USOEC Coach Shannyn Gillespie.
USOEC facility user Whitney Conder (Puyallup, Wash.) lost 1-0, 1-0 to past world medalist and current national team member Jenny Wong at 55kg. Senior Amy Borgnini (Terre Haute, Ind.) lost 0-2.