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2001 U.S. Women's National Wrestling Championships preview



The 2001 U.S. National Championships provides top women wrestlers the chance to identify themselves against the nation's best. Many new stars have risen to success on the Senior women's level and will arrive in Las Vegas thinking of upsets. A weight-by-weight preview of the U.S. Women's Nationals follows. 101.25 pounds Four-time World Champion Tricia Saunders continues to dominate, setting an example for the women wrestling heroes of the future. Saunders has never lost to an American opponent, and looks to extend her record of ten U.S. National titles with another victory this year. The new star on the scene is college wrestler Clarrisa Chun, who lost to Saunders in the finals of the 2000 U.S. Nationals and competed in the 2000 World Championships. Veteran Julie Gonzalez has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, and is always a threat. High school star Mary Kelly is expected to contend. Others with talent are Sandra Padron, Lisa Ward, Danielle Hobeika and Lindsay Torrance. 112.25 pounds Stephanie Murata, who placed fourth in the World Championships in 1998 and 1999, has won four straight U.S. National titles. Patricia Miranda won a silver medal at the 2000 World Championships and will be a strong challenger once again to claim the national title. Jenny Wong has won three of the four tournament she entered this past year and will be a threat. High school stars Melina Hutchison and Jessica Shirley are talented. Amy Alvaro, Shelley-Ann Tomita, Katie Kunimoto and Marianne Volmer will also come to the U.S. Nationals with upsets on their minds. 123.25 pounds Tina George-Wilson placed sixth in the 1999 World Championships and has been on a number of World Team, but is still in the hunt for her first U.S. Nationals title. Her top challengers are veteran Malissa Sherwood, who has been national runner-up many times, and high school star Erin Tomeo. Carrie Birge and Tela O'Donnell are new contenders, while veteran Grace Magnussen is also competing well on the Senior level this year. Aimee McNab, a top challenger in recent years, looks to improve. College wrestlers Cheryl New and Sarah Devers have been impressive. Others to watch include age-group talents Katrina Betts and Erin Kelly. 136.5 pounds The hottest star at 136.5 pounds is the 2000 World Team Trials champion Sara McMann. She was named Outstanding Wrestler when she won her first U.S. Nationals title in 2000. She has won every tournament she has entered this season. Right behind her is the sensationl Tonya Evinger, who placed at the 2000 U.S. Nationals to McMann and will be looking to upset this year. College stars Tina Arnds and Sally Roberts will look to impress as well. Veteran Lauren Lamb has competed on many U.S. World Teams, and will be a serious threat if she returns to this weight class. Veteran Jimi-Dawn Hornbuckle, a national champion in 1998, is always in the hunt. Others who will be in the race include Cathilee Albert, Tori Adams, Cindy Herceg and Joy Warren. 149.75 pounds Kristie Marano moved down from 165.25 pounds last year and became a World Champion. She is also a four-time World silver medalist at the higher weight class. She will seek her fifth U.S. Nationals title, but may have to get by 1999 World Champion Sandra Bacher, who made history by becoming only the second U.S. woman to win a World title. Bacher now owns three career World medals. Marano beat Bacher in a Special Wrestle-off this fall for the No. 1 spot on Team USA. Rising star Toccara Montgomery holds the No. 3 spot and has won three international tournaments this season, including victories over Bacher. Veteran Katie Downing was a 1999 Junior World medalist and has had a great season. Kaci Lyle and Elena Mena have been outstanding although still young talents. College wrestlers Melani Macari and Rachel Glogowski are both serious threats, as is Teri Kleinberg. 165.25 pounds When Marano dropped to 149.75 pounds last year, the top spot went to Iris Smith, who has improved steadily and has had success on international tours. Smith was U.S. Nationals champion last year and competed in the World meet. College star Satrinina Vernon has put the pressure on Smith in many tournaments this season and is the biggest threat for the U.S. Nationals title. Dominique Smalley, a former U.S. Nationals runner-up, also has solid experience. College wrestlers Samantha Branka and Alison Patrick should make an impact. The Mena sisters from Minnesota, Elena and Alicia, have been successful in major events, and Elena has competed at this weight in recent tournaments. Donell Bradley and Sarah Torbert has also shown promise.
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