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U.S. Nationals Women’s preview at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

Kristie Marano of the New York AC is one of the best wrestlers in U.S. history, a two-time World champion. She has been to eight World Championships, and won eight medals, an amazing streak of consistency and excellence. Marano won a bronze medal at 158.5 pounds last year, after moving up in weight from the last few seasons.

Marano is known as a fierce competitor who finds a way to win. One of the most experienced women wrestlers in the nation, she is still seeking a spot on her first U.S. Olympic team, something that is driving her commitment to the sport.

Marano had surgery this fall, and just returned to the mats a few weeks ago. She lost a match to World Team Trials runner-up Stephany Lee of Missouri Valley College at the Missouri Valley Showcase a week ago. Lee was also sidelined much of this season, so neither Marano or Lee are expected to be at their best due to mat rust. Lee is a former World University champion, and has considerable throwing abilities due to a judo background.

Perhaps the wrestler who is competing at the best right now at this division is Iris Smith of the U.S. Army, the 2005 World champion. Smith is healthy again after she missed much of last year with an injury and fell short of making the national team. Smith competed for the U.S. at the recent World Cup, and will come into the tournament with confidence and a bit of momentum. She is one of just four U.S. women wrestlers to win a World title, a very select group.

Two-time Junior World champion Ali Bernard of the Univ. of Regina is a Minnesota native but competes in college in Canada. Bernard has been a U.S. Nationals champion when she competed down a weight class, but has been committed to this division for the last two seasons. Bernard is capable of beating talented opponents, but would have to string together a number of good matches to reach the top of this deep field.

Tabetha Golt of the Univ. of the Cumberlands is among the top athletes coming from the college ranks. Golt was fifth at last year's U.S. Nationals.

Athletes who were All-Americans at this weight class last year include Donell Bradley of the USOEC, Melissa Simmons of the USOEC, Lacy Novinska of Missouri Valley College and Irene Proulx of Lassen College. Of this group, Novinska has been the most active on the national scene this year.

Others to watch include Dallas Monreal-Berner of the USOEC, Megan Goldsmith of the Univ. of Calgary and Teresa Fennell of the Univ. of the Cumberlands. Monriel-Berner was one of the nation's top high school wrestlers a year ago and seeks her first impact on the Senior level.

2006 U.S. Nationals results at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.
1st - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) pin Stephany Lee, Honolulu, Hawaii (Missouri Valley), 3-1, 0:20
3rd - Ali Bernard, New Ulm, Minn. (Univ. of Regina) pin Donell Bradley, Aiea, Hawaii (USOEC), 1:19
5th - Tabitha Golt, Chesapeake, Va. (Cumberland College) inj. dft. Melissa Simmons, Ridgefield, Wash. (USOEC)
7th - Lacy Novinska, Fennimore, Wis. (Missouri Valley) pin Irene Proulx, Susanville, Calif (Lassen College), 1:48 rankings at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. for February 2007
1. Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
2. Stephany Lee, Honolulu, Hawaii (Missouri Valley)
3. Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
4. Ali Bernard, New Ulm, Minn. (Univ. of Regina)
5. Tabitha Golt, Chesapeake, Va. (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
6. Melissa Simmons, Ridgefield, Wash. (USOEC)
7. Lacy Novinska, Fennimore, Wis. (Missouri Valley)
8. Dallas Monriel-Berner, Chicago, Ill.
9. Megan Goldsmith, Black River Falls, Wis.
10. Teresa Fennell, Amarillo, Texas (Univ. of the Cumberlands)

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