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Five past World and Olympic medalists are top seeds in women's division at World Team Trials



LAS VEGAS - It is a veteran and talented group of women wrestlers who take to the mats as top seeds at their weight classes at the U.S. World Team Trials.

All of the 2007 U.S. Nationals champion advance directly to the Championship Series at the World Team Trials.

Five of the seven U.S. Nationals champions have previously won at least one World or Olympic medal.

The two U.S. wrestlers who won medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics were able to claim national titles this year, Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann at 138.75 pounds and Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda at 112.25 pounds.

McMann won her sixth U.S. Nationals title. McMann was also a 2003 World silver medalist and 2005 World bronze medalist. Miranda also captured a sixth U.S. Nationals crown and has also won two World silver medals and a World bronze medal.

Two-time World champion Kristie Marano claimed the national title at 158.5 pounds.

Other past World medalists who won women's national titles were Stephanie Murata at 105.5 pounds and Katie Downing at 147.5 pounds. Murata is a past World silver medalist and Downing was a 2005 World bronze medalist

Two of the U.S. Nationals champions won their first Senior-level national title, and have not been on a past U.S. World Team: Marcie Van Dusen at 121 pounds and Leigh Jaynes at 130 pounds.

Champions in each weight class from the U.S. World Team Trials in the four Olympic weight classes will advance to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil in July as well as the World Championships in September in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Olympic divisions are 105.5 pounds, 121 pounds, 138.75 pounds and 158.5 pounds.

The Pan American Games only hosts competition in the four Olympic weight classes for women. In the 2003 Pan American Games, the first time women's wrestling was included, the USA swept all four gold medals.

The placements in all seven weight classes set the 2007-08 Women's Team USA, which determines funding and competition opportunities.

There may be Special Wrestle-offs in the three women's non-Olympic weight classes, if silver and bronze medalists from the Olympic divisions choose to challenge at one of these divisions. The World Team Wrestle-offs at 112.25 pounds, 130 pounds and 147.5 pounds is scheduled for July 10 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The winners of the World Team Trials in the non-Olympic weights will have a "leg-up" in the Special Wrestle-off, meaning any of the challengers will need to win two straight bouts to make the team.

Here is the weight-by-weight breakdown in women's freestyle for the U.S. World Team Trials:

48 KG/105.5 POUNDS

This weight class is loaded with talent and experience. Veteran Stephanie Murata won her ninth U.S. Nationals title, and seeks another chance to compete at the World Championships. Murata was a 2001 World silver medalist and has as much international experience as anybody.

She pinned 2006 U.S. World Team member Mary Kelly in the U.S. Nationals finals. Kelly, a past age-group World medalist, came on strong last year, making her first World Team and beating numerous talents. Among Kelly's wins this year is a victory over 2005 World champion

2006 U.S. Nationals champion Clarissa Chun placed third at the U.S. Nationals. She competed at the 2000 World Championships, but is seeking her first World medal. Another past U.S. Nationals champion, college star Sara Fulp-Allen, was fourth at the U.S. Nationals this year and is capable of competing at a very high level.

Alyssa Lampe, in her first year with the USOEC program, has had a strong season and seeks to climb past more experienced athletes at the World Team Trials. She won the FILA Junior Nationals this year. Liz Short and Rachel Holthaus were also placewinners at the U.S. Nationals this year. Short has international experience on the age-group levels.

Junior World champion Nicole Woody qualified for the World Team Trials through the Regionals. College wrestlers Jackie Stiles, Aquila Hills and Sadie Kaneda round out the field of participants.

51 KG/112.25 POUNDS

2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda has made a strong comeback after a short retirement when she first attended Yale Law School. Miranda has also won two World silver medals and a World bronze medal, and seeks her first World title. She won her sixth U.S. Nationals title this year and will be among the top favorites in the field in Las Vegas.

Placing second at the U.S. Nationals was 2003 World bronze medalist Jenny Wong, who has established herself at the top challenger for Miranda. Wong has considerable experience and talent. She scored a win over Miranda a few seasons ago, but has not been able to beat her in their recent showdowns.

LeAnn Barney had a strong performance at the U.S. Nationals, placing third and establishing herself as a top young challenger at this division, after dropping down in weight. Julieta Okot, a former World Team member from Bulgaria who received her citizenship two seasons ago, placed fourth at the U.S. Nationals. Okot's experience makes her a dangerous opponent at this level.

One of the top college talents, 2007 Body Bar University Nationals champion Jessica Medina, has shown the ability to challenge the top competitors at this weight. Amnorina Porter and Cheryl Wong also placed at the U.S. Nationals, and will seek to climb higher with a strong effort at the World Team Trials. A young talent, Whitney Conder, qualified to compete by taking second at the Body Bar University Nationals this spring.

55 KG/121 POUNDS

Winning her first U.S. Nationals title this year was 2004 World University champion Marcie Van Dusen, who has shown great potential and improvement in recent seasons. Van Dusen suffered an injury last season which kept her out of the World Team Trials, where she had hoped to make her breakthrough. In addition to winning numerous international medals on tours in recent season, Van Dusen proved her mettle by defeating two-time World silver medalist Tina George in the U.S. Nationals finals.

George has proven to wrestle her best at the World Team Trials, qualifying for seven previous U.S. World Teams. Her last World medal came in 2003 when she was second at the World meet in New York City. George has both experience and talent, and tends to rise to the occasion with a World Team spot up for grabs.

Sharon Jacobson, the 2006 U.S. Nationals champion, placed third at the U.S. Nationals this year. She has emerged as a serious threat to make her first World Team. Brandy Rosenbrock, who was nationally ranked when she was in high school, has had her best season in years, including a win over Van Dusen at the New York AC Holiday International. Chelynne Pringle has shown continued improvement and is a consistent threat at this level. Michaela Hutchison, one of the top high school wrestlers in the nation, placed an impressive sixth at the U.S. Nationals this year. Amy Borgnini, a former Women's Team USA member, also qualified for the Trials.

Dany Hedin, a two-time Junior World medalist, made the field by placing second at the University Nationals this year. Sarah Peasley won the College Nationals gold medal, and has competed well against many of those qualified here. Rachel Bernardes make the World Team Trials by winning at the Regional event.

59 KG/130 POUNDS

One of the biggest surprises at the U.S. Nationals this year was Leigh Jaynes, who won her first U.S. Nationals title and showed vast improvement from previous seasons. Jaynes is training fulltime at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and has been added to the Army World Class Athlete Program. Her previous top achievement were bronze medals at the Beach and Sombo Worlds last year.

Jaynes beat veteran Erin Tomeo in the U.S. Nationals finals this year. Tomeo had her best international performance last year, placing seventh at the World Championships on her second trip to the World meet. Another top veteran who will challenge for the World Team spot is Alaina Berube, who was third at the U.S. Nationals. Berube was second at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials up at 138.75 pounds, and has considerable experience on the international elvels.

Among the top young stars in wrestling is Tatiana Padilla, the 2007 Body Bar FILA Junior Nationals champion who also placed fourth at the U.S. Nationals. Kelsey Campbell had her best season to date, placing fifth at the U.S. Nationals. Othella Lucas and Shyla Iokia, who met in the finals at the 2007 Body Bar University Nationals, were also placewinners at the U.S. Nationals.

Two-time World medalist Sally Roberts has been injured and did not compete in the U.S. Nationals. She is not expected at the World Team Trials, but is making an effort to try to recover in time. Two up-and-coming college wrestlers, Sandy Do and Rachel Hubbard, have also qualified for the field at this weight class.

63 KG/138.75 POUNDS

The dominant athlete in this division for many years has been 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann, who has also won World silver and bronze medals for the United States. McMann won her sixth career U.S. Nationals title, and continues to compete seeking her first World or Olympic title.

McMann defeated talented Randi Miller in the U.S. Nationals finals. Miller upset McMann in the finals at the Dave Schultz Memorial earlier this season. Miller's career has taken off since she started training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and dropped down to this weight class from 147.5 pounds.

Tori Adams, a former Junior World medalist who has been on previous Women's National Teams, placed a strong third at the U.S. Nationals. Vanessa Oswalt, who has shown improvement this year, finished fourth. College wrestler Titilope Lawani had her best performance by taking fifth at the nationals this season. Deanna Rix, who has made the last two U.S. Junior World Teams, is expected to challenge.

Kaci Lyle, a former U.S. Nationals runner-up, has had injury issues but qualified to compete here. Young talent Cherae Pascua qualified at this weight class at the Regional event, but is expected to drop down a weight. Kierstin Hyatt and Emily Rinehart are among the others to qualify for this division.

67 KG/147.5 POUNDS

2005 World bronze medalist Katie Downing has taken over this weight class in the past few seasons. She won her third U.S. Nationals title with a strong performance, and will seek to make her third straight World Team. She has considerable experience and talent, and seeks another chance for a World medal.

Young Elena Pirozhkov, who became eligible to compete for the United States this past year, was the U.S. Nationals runner-up in her first time in the tournament. She also won the University Nationals title this year as well as a number of international medals. She has emerged as the top challenger for Downing this season.

Stefanie Shaw has shown consistency in recent seasons, and was a strong third at the U.S. Nationals this year. College star Amberlee Ebert had a very impressive season, and will seek to climb the ladder at the World Team Trials. Ashley Sword, a 2007 University Nationals champion, has lost considerable time to injuries, but will be a factor if healthy. Improving rapidly is college star Sherolynn Eppinger. Na'Tasha Umemoto, a former U.S. Nationals champion, is always dangerous with strong throwing abilities.

Bethany Harris, the University Nationals runner-up, and Regional champion Marina Piccolotti round out the field here.

72 KG/158.5 POUNDS

Kristie Marano, a two-time World champion, continues to add more achievements to her amazing legacy. She has been to eight World Championships, and won eight medals, an amazing streak of consistency and excellence. She has moved up to this weight class with the hopes of making her first Olympic Team at this division. She has experience, talent and confidence, all which make her one of the greatest of all time.

Marano won a battle of World champions in the U.S. Nationals finals when she defeated 2005 World champion Iris Smith in the finals. Smith suffered an injury in the 2006 season and was not a factor at the division, but has bounced back with a very impressive season this year.

Stephany Lee, a 2004 University World champion, was third at the U.S. Nationals this year, but placed second behind Marano in the 2006 season. Another athlete with tremendous age-group success, two-time Junior World champion Ali Bernard, is also a threat. Bernard is a former U.S. Nationals champion, but did not compete at the nationals this year.

Jenna Pavlik, who was fifth at the 2001 World Championships, has not competed in recent seasons, but returned this year to take fifth at the U.S. Nationals. Three young athletes who are breaking in on the Senior level, Lacey Novinska, Natasha Phinney and Jamie Trentadue, round out the field at this weight class.
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