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Spectacular throws lift Mango to title in FILA Junior Greco-Roman Championships

LAS VEGAS - Anybody who thinks Greco-Roman matches are not exciting hasn't had an opportunity to watch Spenser Mango wrestle.

The explosive 19-year-old Mango put on a dazzling display of athleticism in his 55 kg/121-pound finals match at the FILA Junior Greco-Roman Nationals on Thursday afternoon. He executed a pair of spectacular throws in recording a decisive 9-0, 8-1 technical fall over Joey Martin.

The top-seeded Mango was named Outstanding Wrestler.

The crown jewel for Mango in the finals match came when he launched Martin high into the air for a crowd-pleasing five-point move at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Martin, who competes for the North East Elite, was trying to repeat at the FILA Junior Nationals after winning a title at 110 pounds this year.

"The new reverse lift rule, that really helped me out," Mango said. "I had him locked up real tight, I just arched back and was able to pop it through for a big move."

All FILA Junior Greco-Roman National champions earn the No. 1 position on the ladder for the Junior World Team Trials in June in Colorado Springs.

Mango has made amazing progress since joining the United States Olympic Education Center program at Northern Michigan. He also has become a major factor at the Senior level and will take the No. 3 seed into the U.S. Nationals on Saturday. Mango placed fifth at the 2005 World Team Trials.

"The key for me this weekend will be to stay in good position and not make mistakes," Mango said. "At the Senior level, you've really got to be on your game or you'll go home early."

The 5-foot-2 Mango, from Flourissant, Mo., is among a number of promising young stars involved in the USOEC program. Harry Lester became the first member of the program to make a World team in 2005.

Three other USOEC members - Robbie Smith (96 kg/211.5 lbs.), Andy Bisek (74 kg/163 lbs.) and Chas Betts (84 kg/185 lbs.) - also won FILA Junior Greco-Roman titles on Thursday.

Smith repeated as the champion at 211.5 pounds. He won by technical fall over Quinton Pruett of the Sunkist Wrestling Club in the finals.

Mango's progress was evident in his semifinal match when he won by technical fall over Tony Mustari of the Bear Wrestling Club. Mango, who competes for the Gator Wrestling Club, lost to Mustari two years ago at Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D.

"That guy teched me in Fargo, so I've come a long way since then," Mango said. "Training in Michigan, that's meant everything to me. It has helped me tremendously. I've learned a lot and made a ton of improvement."

Mango placed third at the New York Athletic Club and Sunkist Kids events this year, in addition to placing fifth at the Dave Schultz Memorial and seventh at the World University Games.

The addition of the reverse lift to the rules last year has benefited gifted young stars like Mango.

"I think it brings a lot more excitement to our sport," he said. "Everybody can get a throw every period now. Those big five-point moves, those are fun to see."

Returning champ Elijah Hutchison of Team Alaska finished fourth at 145.5 pounds. The Junior National Greco-Roman runner-up won the Western Junior Greco-Roman Regional on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Also winning FILA Junior Greco-Roman titles on Thursday were Eric Grajales of the Brandon Wrestling Club (50 kg/110 lbs.), Shawn Jones of EIWA (60 kg/132.25 lbs.), Jason Robbins of the Sunkist Wrestling Club (66 kg/145.5 lbs.) and Brandon Rupp of Pocatello (120 kg/264.5 lbs.).

The FILA Junior Freestyle Nationals are set for Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Click here for FILA Junior National Greco-Roman results
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