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|Stephany Lee, Tatiana Padilla deliver big wins at U.S. World Team Trials|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
LAS VEGAS - The clock was ticking and time was about to run out on Stephany Lee.
But down 3-0 in the third period to past World champion Iris Smith in the finals of the Challenge Tournament, Lee dug down and delivered the throw that kept her hopes alive of competing in the World Championships.
The second-seeded Lee headlocked and pinned the top-seeded Smith with 35 seconds left in the match at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. on Saturday afternoon at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Lee now advances to face two-time World champion Kristie Marano in the women's freestyle best-of 3 finals on Saturday night.
Marano clinched a spot in the finals by virtue of winning U.S. Nationals in April.
The champions at each weight class in this two-day event qualify for the World Championships on Sept. 17-23 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
High-schooler Tatiana Padilla of the California Grapplers upset 2006 World Team member Erin Tomeo 1-0, 2-2, 1-1 in the Challenge Tournament finals at 59 kg/130 lbs. Padilla advances to face U.S. Nationals champion Leigh Jaynes of the U.S. Army in the final series.
The 16-year-old Padilla, the 2007 FILA Junior Nationals champion, placed fourth at the U.S. Nationals in April.
Lee and Padilla were joined in the big-win category Saturday by talented young Greco-Roman star Spenser Mango, who knocked off No. 1 seed Sam Hazewinkel 0-4, 2-0, 2-1 in the Challenge Tournament semifinals. The fifth-seeded Mango, a 2006 World University champion and Junior World bronze medalist, now advances to face 2006 World bronze medalist Lindsey Durlacher for a spot on the World Team.
Veteran Casey Cunningham continued his strong comeback season by sweeping 2006 World bronze medalist Donny Pritzlaff in the semifinals of the Challenge Tournament. Cunningham also beat Pritzlaff at the U.S. Natioinals.
Cunningham will meet Joe Heskett in the finals. Heskett beat Cunningham in the U.S. Nationals finals this year. Heskett and Cunningham, both past second-place finishers in the World Team Trials, are both looking to make their first World Team.
2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick survived a scare against Chris Fleeger in the Challenge Tournament semifinals. The third period came down to the leg clinch and Fleeger won the coin flip. But Zadick countered effectively with a strong whizzer maneuver and was able to avoid being taken down or driven out of bounds.
Zadick will meet Zach Roberson in the best-of-3 finals. The winner of the Zadick-Roberson match will then meet U.S. Nationals champion Nate Gallick at a later date for the spot on the World Team. Gallick was injured and was granted a Special Wrestle-Off since he has already clinched a spot in the best-of-3 finals.
Saturday night's finals are set for 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
SATURDAY NIGHT'S BEST-OF-3 FINALISTS
60 kg/132 lbs. - Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Gator WC) vs. Zach Roberson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
Zadick-Roberson winner will face Nate Gallick (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at a date and site to be determined for spot on U.S. World Team
74 kg/163 lbs. - Joe Heskett, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids) vs. Casey Cunningham, Mt. Pleasant, Mich. (Sunkist Kids)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Daniel Cormier, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC) vs. Mo Lawal, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
55 kg/121 lbs. - Spenser Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (Gator WC/USOEC) vs. Lindsey Durlacher, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
74 kg/163 lbs. - T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) vs. Keith Sieracki, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
84 kg/185 lbs. - Brad Vering, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) vs. Jake Clark, Okinawa, Japan (U.S. Marines)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) vs. Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
51 kg/112 lbs. - Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Sunkist Kids) vs. Jenny Wong, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
59 kg/130 lbs. - Leigh Jaynes, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) vs. Tatiana Padilla, Covina, Calif. (California Grapplers)
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Katie Downing, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) vs. Elena Pirozhkov, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) vs. Stephany Lee, Honolulu, Hawaii (Missouri Valley)