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|Miranda, Tomeo fall in quarterfinals, George loses in first round on Day 6 of World Championships|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
GUANGZHOU, China - Two American women's freestyle wrestlers remained in contention for medals on Saturday morning at the World Championships.
Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Sunkist Kids) at 51 kg/112.25 pounds and Erin Tomeo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 59 kg/130 pounds both suffered quarterfinal losses in Saturday's first session at the Tianhe Sports Center. But both can come back in Saturday afternoon's session, and with two wins apiece, can still go home with bronze medals.
"Now, everyone has to throw in everything," USA National Coach Terry Steiner said. "It is for a medal. There is nothing to lose. They will be tough matches, feisty matches. We have to take control. People will wrestle with emotion tonight. We have to be ready for that and wrestle above it."
Miranda, a two-time World silver medalist, ran into a machine in the quarterfinals in three-time World Champion Hitomi Sakamoto of Japan, who was dominant on her feet with an assortment of leg attacks in rolling to a 3-0, 2-0 quarterfinal win. Miranda, who took last year off while starting Law School at Yale University, will wrestle back on Saturday afternoon after Sakamoto advanced to the finals.
Tomeo lost a heartbreaking, wild and controversial quarterfinal decision to World silver medalist Li Hui Su of China, who prevailed 4-4, 1-3, 4-3. Tomeo led 1-0 in the third period before Li shot in on a double late in the period. Tomeo countered and launched Li straight over her head and exposed her back to the mat.
The officials stopped the match with 22 seconds left to review the sequence. After changing the score four different times, Li was awarded four points (three for exposure and one for a takedown) and Tomeo two for exposure in the exchange. Li led 4-3 and then blocked off Tomeo's shot attempts in the final seconds. Tomeo earned the right to wrestle back after Li rallied to win in the semifinals.
"I think what were factors were my defense and her leg attacks," Tomeo said. "It is not a situation I get into a lot. I need to work on it some more. I am pleased I stayed offensive-minded, but I have to be ready for those shots. I stuck with the game plan and wrestled hard, other than that.
"I'm still confident. I am at this level. I deserve to be here. I just need to make a few more tweaks."
The U.S. suffered a stunning setback in the first round when two-time World silver medalist Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) was upset by Thi Giang Nghiem of Vietnam in the first round at 55 kg/121 pounds. George was eliminated after Nghiem lost her next match. Nghiem's best international showing was third at the 2006 Asian Championships.
Japan, as expected, is running away from the rest of the field. They already have 37 team points. All four Japanese wrestlers have now advanced to the finals. They already have one champion with a chance to add three more gold medals Saturday night.
George's first-round match was even at one period apiece before neither could secure a takedown in the two-minute third period. It came down to a tiebreaker, Nghiem won the flip and quickly dumped George to the mat four seconds into the tiebreaker for the winning takedown.
Nghiem caught George on her back just 22 seconds into the bout, nearly pinning her before George finally was able to turn out of danger.
"I don't think I fought," George said. "That's it. I did some great things. I dissected the match. I got put on my back and fought out. That is big for me. I had a good scramble at the end of the second period. In the third period, I didn't feel confident in my shots. In half a second, I wasn't focused and it was over.
"Everyone kept saying I had a walkthrough to the finals. I don't look at it that way, I look at it differently. I get more nervous then. I think it puts more pressure on you to expect that. I think I played it safe to get through that first match, and it cost me."
The final day of the World Championships is set for Sunday. The Americans will send three World medalists to the mat. They include Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 63 kg/138.75 pounds, Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 67 kg/147.5 pounds and Kristie Marano (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 72 kg/158.5 pounds.
Marano, competing in her first World meet since 2003, is a seven-time medalist and two-time World Champion. McMann and Downing each won bronze medals at the 2005 World meet.