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|ASICS KIDS NATIONAL NOTES: Short family “reunion;” Two clinch Triple Crown; Ultimate Dominator meets Olympic champ|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The first day of freestyle at the ASICS Kids National Championships has been completed, with the tournament scheduled to conclude on Saturday. A few weight classes have already been finished, with the majority of the medals up for grabs on Saturday.
SHORT FAMILY ACTIVE AND INVOLVED AT ALL LEVELS
Perhaps the most prominent name at the ASICS Kids National Freestyle and Greco-Roman Championships this year is Short. There are three generations of the Short family from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. participating this weekend, continuing the legacy of one of the nation's most successful wrestling families.
Serving as the Chief Pairing Official of the ASICS Kids Nationals is Pat Short, the USA Wrestling Woman of the Year, and the matriarch of the Short wrestling family. She has served in this capacity at the event for a number of years.
Her husband Jim Short was the long-time coach at nationally-ranked Simley High School in Minnesota. Both Pat and Jim are now retired, but Jim has also stayed in the sport, coaching a Kids club in their community and mentoring a number of athletes in the tournament this week.
Pat and Jim will celebrate their 40th anniversary this August, and wrestling remains an important and active part of their family activities.
Jim and Pat had four sons who won state high school titles and made the Short name famous on the national wrestling mats: John, Chris, Will and Wade. Now there are 14 grandchildren in the Short family, including a number of wrestlers.
Two of the Short grandkids are wrestling in the tournament this weekend. Jake Short, who is Will's son, placed second at the Novice 75-pound division in Greco-Roman. Mack, who is Chris' son, placed fifth in Greco-Roman in the Midget 70-pound weight class.
Chris and Will are both here this weekend, supporting their sons and coaching other wrestlers. Will is now the head coach at Simley High School, working to continue the legacy of excellence developed by his father for decades.
There have been six Short grandkids involved in wrestling. John, who lives in the northern part of the state, has three sons who wrestle, and his daughter Alicia was also a wrestler when she was in high school. Wade has a four-year old son who is expected to start in the sport next year.
Pat has found that it is "much easier" watching the grandkids wrestle than when she was watching her sons on the mat.
"If they don't win, Grandma says it's OK and we buy an ice cream cone. When my sons lost, they had to walk home," she said with a laugh. "Really, the kids are just so good. I love to watch them wrestle."
RIDER, CLIMMONS CLINCH TRIPLE CROWNS
Two wrestlers have already clinched the freestyle title and have won the Triple Crown this year: Cody Rider of Wisconsin at Midget 112 pounds and Glenn Climmons of Georgia at Novice 130 pounds.
The Triple Crown is awarded to any wrestler who wins USA Wrestling national titles in all three styles of wrestling in the same season: folkstyle, Greco-Roman and freestyle.
Climmons won a best-of-three series to capture the freestyle title over Connor King of Colorado, winning the first match 4-2, 0-6, 7-0, then taking the second match 4-4, 4-4, 8-4. Rider won his weight class uncontested in freestyle.
Climmons was a Triple Crown winner in 2004, capturing all three national titles in the Midget 103-pound division that year.
16 TRIPLE CROWNS STILL POSSIBLE THIS YEAR
With Rider and Climmons nailing down Triple Crowns on Friday, the total number of Triple Crown winners this year could climb as high as 16 this year.
A total of 16 wrestlers entered the day with a chance for winning the Triple Crown. All of these athletes finished the first day of freestyle undefeated. The wrestlers fighting for the Triple Crown ended the day with a 43-0 record combined.
The record for the most Triple Crown winners in one year was 12, set in 2004. The program was created in 1997, and with Rider and Climmons winning today, the total number of Triple Crown winners has climbed to 80. Expect a number of others by Saturday night.
Those still in the hunt for the Triple Crown are:
Cole Verner of Wyoming at Midget 50 pounds
Brock Benitz of Wisconsin at Midget 55 pounds
James Rothwell of Colorado at Midget 65 pounds
Bo Nickal of Wyoming at Midget 75 pounds
Joey Mammolenti of Indiana at Midget 87 pounds
Jered Cortez of Colorado at Novice 70 pounds
Brandon Kingsley of Minnesota at Novice 85 pounds
Oliver Pierce of Texas at Novice 90 pounds
Ryan Cone of Wisconsin at Novice 112 pounds
Joe Scanlan of Iowa at Novice at Novice 140+ pounds
Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin at Schoolboy/girl 85 pounds
Dylan Ness of Minnesota at Schoolboy/girl 95 pounds
Joe Denova of Georgia at Schoolboy/girl 120 pounds
Morgan McIntosh of California at Schoolboy/girl 145 pounds
ULTIMATE DOMINATOR JOHNSON HAS DINNER WITH OLYMPIC CHAMP
Thursday, June 29 was a day to remember for Michael Johnson of Illinois.
During the day, Johnson became the Novice 100 pound Greco-Roman national champion, defeating Bryce Chaney of Wisconsin in the finals, 2-1, 1-3, 2-1.
During the night, he and his father Mike were able to share a dinner with 1984 Olympic Greco-Roman champion and USA Wrestling National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser as the winner of a special raffle held at the competition.
If the name is familiar, Johnson made some big news this spring, when he was crowned the 2006 Ultimate Dominator, after scoring the most points in the ASICS Ultimate Challenge Series of Folkstyle Wrestling, a national schedule of major USA Wrestling youth wrestling events.
It was Michael's idea to put in for the raffle, although his father usually does not get involved.
"It was his idea. I never do raffles. I never win those things. Michael was adamant. He twisted my arm," said Mike.
Coach Fraser was in Green Bay to sign autographs, meet young wrestlers and hand out all the awards in the Kids National Greco-Roman event. When the idea to have a raffle for dinner was offered to him, Fraser decided to give it a try.
The Johnsons joined Fraser for dinner after all the Greco-Roman awards were handed out. They walked across the street to Curley's, the restaurant at famous Lambeau Field (where the Green Bay Packers NFL football team plays). When the meal was over, Coach Fraser said that he had a very good time. For the Johnsons, it was something to remember for a long time.
"He talked about what he did in high school in wrestling, and what he does to help people do better in wrestling," said Michael, who will enter the fifth grade at Hillcrest Elementary School in the fall. "It was a really good day."
"We talked about his bike riding and all our interests outside of wrestling," said Mike, the father. "He is an amazing guy. The two-and-a-half hours felt like it went by in like five minutes."
Michael has qualified for the bronze-medal match at his weight class on Saturday. He will return home with two medals from Green Bay, and the memories of an evening with a legend.
13 CHAMPIONS ALREADY CROWNED IN FREESTYLE
A total of 13 weight classes completed entirely on Friday, with medals awarded to the All-Americans. They are:
112 - Cody Rider (Wisconsin)
120 - Tyler Moore (Michigan)
120++ - Tashon Smallweod (California)
120 - Austin Lobsinger (California)
130 - Glenn Climmons (Georgia)
140 - Brooks Black (Pennsylvania)
140++ - Justin Kennedy (Idaho)
75 - Mark Grey (New Jersey)
115 - Taylor Massa (Michigan)
185 - Cody Krumweide (Iowa)
205 - Evan Knutson (Wisconsin)
225 - Casey Geilenfeldt (Wisconsin)
250 - Max Pelfrey (Michigan)
GREY GETS REVENGE
On Thursday, 2005 Triple Crown winner Mark Grey of New Jersey had his quest for another Triple Crown halted in the finals at Schoolboy 75, losing to Florida's Kevin Norstrem in the finals. Grey had beaten Norstrem in the Greco-Roman finals a year ago, but Norstrem got his revenge on Thursday.
On Friday, Grey returned the favor, making the finals again at 75 pounds and facing Norstrem once again. This time, in freestyle, Grey prevailed, winning the final bout 2-0, 4-3. He ended the year with two of the three legs of the Triple Crown won this year, with a silver in Greco-Roman.
Grey is the brother of Junior National champion Mike Grey, who became the first four-time New Jersey high school state champion this year.