|World champion wrestler Iris Smith named USOC Athlete of the Month|
By Karen Saladyga USOC
The U.S. Olympic Committee today named World Champion wrestler Iris Smith as its Female Athlete of the Month for September.
Skier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson was its September Male Athletes of the Month. The USOC Team of the Month honor was awarded to the USA Men's National Volleyball Team.
Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) won a gold medal at 72kg/158.5 lbs. at the World Wrestling Championships, the most important international event of the year, Sept. 30 in Budapest, Hungary. Smith scored a major upset in the gold-medal finals, defeating five-time World champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan, 3-1, 1-1, 1-0. Smith was the only U.S. woman wrestler to win a World gold medal this year and became only the fourth U.S. woman wrestler ever to win a World title on her way to leading the United States to a strong third-place finish in the team standings at the World Championships.
Smith won four matches on the way to her historic win. In her first bout, Smith stopped Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria, 3-1, 1-0. In the quarterfinals, Smith stopped Angnieska Wieczczek of Poland, 2-0, 6-0. She also had a strong semifinal win over Anita Schaetzle of Germany, 3-1, 2-0.
Smith was competing in her second World Championships. She is a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
Volleyball's Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) placed second among the women after being named the most valuable player of the NORCECA Continental Championships Sept. 11 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. She led the USA Women's National Volleyball Team to the gold medal with a 25-13, 22-25, 27-25, 20-25 victory over Cuba. Metcalf, who tied a match high with 21 points in the final, also tied for the tournament lead in scoring with 67 total points on 55 kills, seven blocks and five aces in five matches. Team USA posted a 5-1 record and qualified for the prestigious six-team Grand Champions Cup tournament in Japan in November.
Third place for the women went to snowboarder Hannah Teter (Belmont, Vt.), who earned back-to-back halfpipe wins just three hours apart at the World Cup season opener Sept. 15 in Valle Nevado, Chile. Teter was the lone American woman to qualify for either halfpipe final and the two victories bring her total career World Cup wins to six.
On the men's side, reigning World Cup aerials champion Peterson (Boise, Idaho) won the first World Cup aerials event of the Olympic season Sept. 3 at Mount Buller, Australia. In collecting the fourth World Cup victory of his career, Peterson had 246.25 points and landed two quad-twisting triples (four twists, three flips), a double full-full-full and a full-double full-full.
Second-place honors for the men went to volleyball's Donald Suxho (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who guided the USA Men's National Volleyball Team to its second-straight NORCECA Continental Championship as the squad posted a 25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22 victory over Cuba Sept. 15 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Suxho, who earned the tournament's best server honors after blasting 11 aces, set Team USA to a hitting percentage of 0.441 (195 kills, 43 errors, 345 attempts) and averaged 6.6 points per match.
Rower Beau Hoopman (Plymouth, Wis.) placed third for the men after stroking the men's eight to a gold medal Sept. 3 at the 2005 FISA World Championships in Gifu, Japan, its first World championship title in the event since 1999. Hoopman, who raced in two boats at the world championships, also helped the U.S. men's four to a fifth-place finish Sept. 3.
Freestyle wrestler Tolly Thompson (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), a World bronze medalist at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., received first-place votes in the balloting.
In the team category, the USA Men's National Volleyball Team held off a stubborn Cuban squad, 3-1, to win its second-consecutive NORCECA Continental Championship Sept. 15 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The USA posted a 25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22 victory to finish the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record while losing just one set (15-1). The Americans, who also won the last NORCECA Championship in 2003, earned back-to-back crowns for the first time in 20 years.
Second place went to the U.S. Rowing Men's Eight with Coxswain. Despite four members rowing in two events, the squad won the gold medal at the 2005 FISA World Rowing Championships Sept. 3 in Gifu, Japan. The victory marked the first time the U.S. won gold at the World Championships since 1999.
Third place in the team category went to the U.S. International Junior Women's Gymnastics Team, consisting of Natasha Kelley (Katy, Texas) and Bianca Flohr (Creston, Ohio), which earned three gold, five silver and two bronze medals at the International Junior Gymnastics Competition Sept. 18-19 in Yokohama, Japan.
Results (first place votes in parentheses)
1. Iris Smith, Wrestling 20 (5)
2. Nancy Metcalf, Volleyball 16 (3)
3. Hannah Teter, Snowboarding 11 (2)
Also receiving first-place votes: Kristin Armstrong (Cycling), Diandra Asbaty (Bowling), Michelle Guerette (Rowing), Deena Kastor (Track & Field), Jenny Potter (Ice Hockey)
1. Jeret Peterson, Skiing 17 (2)
2. Donald Suxho, Volleyball 15 (2)
3. Beau Hoopman, Rowing 13 (3)
Also receiving first-place votes: Abdi Abidirahman (Track & Field), Brett Anderson (Baseball), Bill Furbish (Disabled Water Skiing), Royal Mitchell (Paralympic Track & Field), Craig Schmersal (Equestrian), Tolly Thompson (Wrestling)
1. USA Men's National Volleyball Team 25 (4)
2. U.S. Rowing Men's Eight 17 (5)
3. U.S. International Junior Women's Gymnastics Team 16 (2)
Also receiving first-place votes: USA Women's Goalball Team, USA Baseball Junior National Pan Am Team, U.S. Wakeboard Team