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|Champions earn spot on U.S. World team with victories at the U.S. Sombo National Championships in Florida|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
NORTH PALM BEACH, FLA. - Seven individual men's champions were crowned at the first U.S. Sombo National Championships held at the North Palm Beach Community Center on August 20.
It was the first national championships in Sombo held by USA Wrestling since FILA, the international federation, reinstated Sombo as a form of international wrestling in 2005.
Champions in each weight class earned the right to represent the United States at the World Sombo Championships in Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 1-5.
Three of the individual champions serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Sombo has traditionally been a sport that is popular among the branches of the U.S. military services.
Two of the Marine Corps champions are members of the U.S. Marine Corps wrestling team stationed in Quantico, Va.: Moises Hernandez (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and Frank Workman (Spotsylvania, Va./U.S. Marines) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Hernandez won all three of his bouts during the competition, including a 10-3 decision over runner-up Jeff Zastrow (Whitewater, Wis. /Warhawk WC) in his final bout.
Hernandez was a high school wrestler from Vineland, N.J. who got involved in Greco-Roman wrestling in the U.S. Marines, and began training in international wrestling with 2006 U.S. World Team member Jake Clark while stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
"This is my first Sombo tournament, and I have not practiced it much," said Hernandez. Greco-Roman is my first and foremost style. When Sombo tournaments come, I will try my hardest, and compete for cross-training. It is great to make the World Team and go to Turkey. This gives guys a chance to explore a new sport at an elite level. I went out there and tried to do some serious damage."
Workman earned his World Team spot with a submission of runner-up Thomas Campbell (Okoee, Fla./West Orange WC) in 2:40. It was Workman's second Sombo championship of the year, after winning a title at the Pan American Qualifier in Washington, D.C. in May.
Workman is currently ranked No. 3 on Greco-Roman Team USA. He also qualified for the U.S. World Beach Wrestling Team, by placing second in the World Team Trials for Beach Wrestling on Saturday at the Above 85 kg/187.5 lbs. division.
"I plan on going to the World Championships. I change duty stations in September, and I plan to attend if they let me go. I have trained some Sombo, working with the judo guys on my base. They show me submissions. There is also a dojo in my town. Chad Lebron has worked with me on how to get out of submissions. Hopefully he will work with me leading up to the Worlds," said Workman.
The other U.S. Marine Corps champion, Juan Ramos (Jacksonville, N.C.) at 84 kg/185 lbs., is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He won five matches on the way to the title, including a 7-1 victory over runner-up Brad Hurrell (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Williamson Trade) in his final match.
Ramos, a lieutenant in the U.S Marines, trained as a member of the Onslaw County WC in his community, working mostly with youth wrestlers. He was a walkon wrestler for the Univ. of Oklahoma during his college career.
"I have done no Sombo until today, but I have wrestled and have done judo," said Ramos. "This is an opportunity to become a national champion, and to be part of the beginning of Sombo with USA Wrestling. I would like to go to the World Championships."
Joining Workman with his second USA Wrestling Sombo victory of the year was Matt Morkel (Washington, DC/Gator WC) at 60 kg/132 lbs. Morkel was also a champion at the Pan American Qualifier in Washington, D.C. in May.
Morkel won a competitive weight class, clinching a victory with a submission over Michael Santos (Tampa, Fla.) in 2:42. He was in a competitive weight division. Morkel had lost a 3-0 match to past Sombo World Cup champion Stephen Biedrycki (Fairfax, Va./Next Level WC), but Biedrycki lost a technical fall to Santos, 12-0. Morkel was the winner of the roundrobin based upon total classification points.
Morkel competed for American Univ., and will serve as a graduate assistant coach with the program next year.
"The first time I did Sombo was in May, and I also won that tournament. I have been working out often in wrestling, and have working some Sombo in. I also went to a club in Reston, Va. for a weekend to improve my Sombo. I wrestle quite a bit, which helped me here. I like it a lot. It is a chance to try something different and still incorporate a lot of what we do as wrestlers. I have always had an interest in mixed martial arts and in submissions. So this brings that in as well," said Morkel.
The champion at 74 kg/163 lbs. was veteran Greco-Roman wrestler Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./EA Kombat). Sahin, a member of the U.S. Army program, won two matches in his division, including a 6-1 victory over runner-up Sandy North of Florida. Sahin was an international wrestler in Turkey, who received his U.S. citizenship in 2004.
"This year, I started training again after a long time off. I came to get some competition again and to show my face. I competed for my buddy Eric Albarracin and for EA Kombat. I love competition. I wrestled yesterday on the beach, and today in Sombo. I did no Sombo in Turkey. I am a Greco-Roman wrestler, and mixing in freestyle skills is hard. But I love the competition. I would like to go to the Worlds for even more competition," said Sahin.
The champion at 55 kg/121 lbs. was Ramie Mohlman (Lake Worth, Fla./Seadog WC), who scored two victories on the way to the title, including a 3-2 decision over runner-up Jarrett Hirst (Allentown, Pa.).
"My first Sombo experience was today," said Mohlman. "Anytime you have an opportunity to wrestle, you take it, in the sand, with a jacket, you take that opportunity. It is competition. I feel more comfortable with Sombo. I learned a lot in the matches I had today. I studied Sombo on the internet, so as a greenhorn, I knew a bit more. I am glad they brought Sombo back. I have a lot of work to do before the Worlds. I'll learn more submission holds. I want to have the experience of the World Championships. Anytime you can represent the United States, it is an honor," said Mohlman.
At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Ray White (Clearwater, Fla./Team Pursuit) won the title, with a 11-11 criteria decision over Lucas Morley (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Ultimate Sombo).
"I have done Greco-Roman and judo," said White. "I was fifth in the nationals in Greco as a Junior and a Cadet. I also took third in the Beach Nationals. I dropped a little weight to try this. I am a thrower. This is a natural transition for me. We are hooked on Sombo. We have a program in my community and we will do this."
There were three individual champions in the high school division, Jarrett Hirst of Allentown, Pa. at 55 kg/121 lbs., Jacob Schalles of Orlando, Fla. at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Dan Leckel of Eyota, Minn. at 84 kg/185 lbs.
The Pan American portion of the tournament featured three women's champions, Ingrid Santos (Tampa, Fla.) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Clara Curtis (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at 59 kg/130 lbs. and Leigh Jaynes (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
A number of exhibition bouts were also held, providing the athletes an additional opportunity to compete in Sombo and improve their skills and experience.
The U.S. World Team will prepare for the World Championships in a training camp in Fort Dix, N.J. under veteran Sombo coach Floyd Winter, who was the coach of the U.S. Army wrestling team many years ago.
U.S. World Sombo Team
55 kg/121 lbs. - Ramie Mohlman (Lake Worth, Fla./Seadog WC)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Matt Morkel (Washington, DC/Gator WC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Ray White (Clearwater, Fla./Team Pursuit)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./EA Kombat)
84 kg/185 lbs.- Juan Ramos (Jacksonville, N.C.)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Moises Hernandez (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Frank Workman, Spotsylvania, Va. (U.S. Marines)