June 16, 2008
Marquette—United States Olympic Education Center Greco-Roman wrestler Spenser Mango (St. Louis, Mo.) earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team at the Olympic Team Trials held June 13-15 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Mango made it to the championship at 55 kilograms and defeated opponent Sam Hazwinkel of Gator WC 2-0.
“I feel great, like I’m on top of the world,” said Mango. “I’m going to Beijing.”
Mango attributes his performance in the tournament to his USOEC teammates. “We have some of the best talent in the U.S. in our wrestling room, so when we get out on the mat we’ve already had experience wrestling some of the top guys in the U.S.,” he said.
Joe Betterman (Chicago, Ill.) also took first at 60 kg, defeating Glenn Garrison of the US Army 2-0. However, the U.S. did not qualify this weight class for the Olympics.
“The weight’s not qualified, but it just feels awesome to finally legitimately be number one in the U.S.”, said Betterman. “It feels good.”
To qualify a weight for the Olympics, a country must finish in a certain position at designated tournaments. The US failed to do this for 60 kg. There is still chance for Betterman to compete in Beijing if the weight class is awarded a wildcard. Seven overall wildcards will be awarded among the 18 total Olympic weight classes in all three styles of wrestling, shortly after the Trials.
Also making the U.S. Olympic Team is former USOEC wrestler Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif.). Wheeler went against Justin Ruiz of New York AC in the 96 kg championships, beating Ruiz 2-1.
USOEC wrestler Cheney Haight (Orem, Utah) took second place overall at 74 kg. Haight made it to the championships against T.C. Dantzler of Colorado Springs, falling 2-0. Also competing at 74 kg was teammate Talan Knox, who finished in third place overall with a tournament record of 3-2.
Also finishing in third place was Harry Lester, a heavy favorite at 66 kg. He fell to Jake Deitchler in the semifinals 0-5, 5-2, 5-3. Deitchler won the weight class and qualified for the Olympics. Lester defeated M. Cooper and Oscar Wood for a 4-1 tournament record. According to USA Wrestling’s Web site, Lester left his shoes on the mat in the traditional wrestling retirement ceremony after winning his third-place match.
Also competing at 66 kg were Jacob Curby, who was defeated in the second round by eventual second-place winner Faruk Sahin, and Bo Beckman, who also lost his first match.
At 84 kg, USOEC facility user Jake Plamann took third place overall. In the third-place match, Plamann defeated teammate Chas Betts. USOEC wrestler Zac Nielson also competed at 84 kg and finished the tournament with a 2-2 record.
Rounding out the USOEC Greco-Roman wrestlers, Peter Kowalczuk wrestled at 120 kg and finished in fourth place to David Arendt.
On the women’s side, Sadie Kaneda and Alyssa Lampe competed at 48 kg. Kaneda was defeated in the first round by former USOEC athlete Mary Kelly and finished the tournament 0-2. Lampe was defeated in the first round by Clarissa Chun, who went on to win the weight class and qualify for the Olympics. Lampe tallied a 2-2 record for the tournament. In the 55-kg weight class, USOEC wrestlers Amy Borgnini and Shyla Iokia were both defeated in the first round.