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|Joe Warren looking to hit jackpot again during U.S. World Team Trials this weekend in Las Vegas|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Press Conference Video
LAS VEGAS - In a city that loves its sports and entertainment, Joe Warren is a perfect fit.
He is at the top of his game in his sport and his performances are nothing short of entertaining.
Warren, the 2006 World champion in Greco-Roman wrestling at 60 kg/132 lbs., will look to treat the Las Vegas Convention Center fans to another exciting show during the U.S. World Team Trials on Saturday and Sunday.
Warren, who ripped through the competition in winning April's U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas, is heavily favored to do the same thing when he tries to make his third straight World Team on Sunday.
"Day in and day out, I'm trying to get everything out of every practice I can," said Warren, who won the 2007 World Cup. "I'm focused and determined that I will win that Olympic championship, so each day is just another mark off my calendar closer to my dream. Personally, I'm honored to be a World champion and honored to have a chance to win another World title this year."
Warren (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) was joined at the World Team Trials press conference on Friday afternoon by two-time World champion Kristie Marano (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) and 2007 U.S. Nationals champion Tommy Rowlands (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids).
The champions from the World Team Trials in each weight class qualify for the World Championships on Sept. 17-23 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
This weekend also marks the debut for Grappling at this event for men and women. The World Championships for Grappling are set for this September in Antalya, Turkey.
Warren - who pumps himself up before matches by calling himself the "Baddest Man on the Planet" - has continued to build on the momentum of his breakthrough performance at the 2006 Worlds last September in Guangzhou, China.
Warren is scheduled to compete Sunday and has already clinched a spot in the best-of-3 finals by virtue of winning U.S. Nationals and being a returning top-five finisher in the World. The rest of the competitors at 60 kilos will battle it out in a Challenge Tournament for the right to meet Warren later in the day in the final-round series.
"I've pretty much known I was a World champion since I started wrestling, I just didn't win it yet," Warren said. "Now that I did win it, it's been great. I'm still hungry. Once you get that taste of winning you want it more. I've been training twice as hard every day to get to that goal of winning an Olympic championship. It's been a great ride and I'm excited to see what happens in the future. Last year was just a steppingstone to get me closer to that final goal of winning the Olympics."
Marano, who won her eighth World medal in as many appearances at the World Championships last year, also has landed a spot in the final-round series. She will compete Saturday at 72 kg/158.5 lbs in women's freestyle.
Marano beat past World champion Iris Smith in the U.S. Nationals finals in April.
"I feel very prepared for this event and I'm extremely excited to go into this tournament," said Marano, a 2006 World bronze medalist. "Iris and I are both World champions, and we both want the same thing. Iris is a very tough competitor. I'll have to be ready if she makes it through the Challenge Tournament."
Rowlands looks to continue a breakthrough season in the class of 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in freestyle. He also has landed a spot in the best-of-3 final round. Among the top heavyweights looking to make it through the Challenge Tournament is 2005 World bronze medalist Tolly Thompson, 2007 U.S. Nationals runner-up Cole Konrad and past World Team Trials runner-up Steve Mocco.
"My preparation for this event went really well," Rowlands said. "I went through a real tough training cycle for this and then tapered off the last few days. I'm feeling real good right now and feeling real fresh. I'm ready to compete and take care of business.
"I always expect to win and I feel like that first U.S. Open National title should have come for me a long time ago. Winning it this year was good timing with the Olympics just around the corner. I have a World class freestyle coach in Lou Rosselli overseeing my training and I think it's made a humongous difference."