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|U.S. NATIONALS: Clarissa Chun hits jackpot, wins OW award in women's freestyle|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
LAS VEGAS - Clarissa Chun won a World title in 2008.
But that was last year.
It's a new year in 2009 and Chun is determined to add another World Championships gold medal to her collection.
Chun capped a strong performance Thursday night, downing World University silver medalist Sara Fulp-Allen 3-0, 1-0 in the U.S. Nationals finals at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. Chun was named Outstanding Wrestler.
Chun placed fifth in the 2008 Olympic Games before coming back two months later to win a World title.
"It's cool that I won Worlds," Chun said. "I soaked it all in, but I look at this year as a new day and another challenge. I have to get after it again. I want to win another championship. Rather than try to defend my World title, I've got to grab it again and win it again."
Chun was one of seven champions crowned during the women's freestyle finals on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The champions in each division will earn No. 1 seeds for the U.S. World Team Trials on May 30-31 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The top seven finishers in each weight class qualify for the World Team Trials.
The seven women's champions at the World Team Trials advance to September's World Championships in Herning, Denmark.
Chun won her second career U.S. Nationals title. She beat a familiar foe in Fulp-Allen, who she lost to twice last year before beating her in the Olympic Trials.
Chun headlocked Fulp-Allen just before time ran out in the first period to take control.
"I didn't want to slip and miss her head," Chun said. "If that happens, she gets one point and I lose that period. I knew I needed to make sure I had that locked up tight. I had to make sure I had it.
"She's a tough wrestler who is really flexible and counters really well. It's always a tough matchup for me."
Veteran Patricia Miranda captured her eighth U.S. Nationals title after pinning Katherine Fulp-Allen with a cradle in the finals at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Miranda, a past Olympic and World medalist, is back on the mat this year after being upset by Chun in the finals of the 2008 Olympic Trials.
17-year-old Helen Maroulis, a senior in high school, continues to show promise after winning the title at 55 kg/121 lbs. Maroulis, a 2008 World Team member at 51 kilos, looked good in bumping up a weight class.
Maroulis downed past World Team member Leigh Jaynes in the finals.
"I feel confident at this weight," Maroulis said. "It's new for me, but I feel good and it's not as hard of a cut. I told my coaches I wanted to focus on wrestling and not losing weight."
Adeline Gray, another high school senior, won the title at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. Gray, a 2008 Junior World champion, beat Sheila McCabe in the finals.
Maroulis and Gray both train at the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Mich.
Kelsey Campbell captured her first U.S. Nationals title after knocking off No. 1 seed Deanna Rix in three periods in the finals at 59 kg/130 lbs. Rix placed fifth in the World in 2008.
2008 World Team member Elena Pirozhkova won the title at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. after sweeping Vanessa Oswalt in the finals.
Stephany Lee, another member of the 2008 World Team, looked strong in downing Jenna Pavlik in the finals at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Lee rolled to a 3-0, 4-0 win. Pavlik is a past fifth-place World finisher.
Lee knocked off 2008 Olympic gold medalist Wang Jiao of China in the 2009 World Cup.
"The World Cup really helped me," Lee said. "I pinned the Olympic gold medalist and that helped me really believe. I knew I had the ability to do great things, but this was just confirming I could do it. It really helped me mentally."
Maroulis, Campbell, Pirozhkova, Gray and Lee each won their first U.S. Nationals titles.
The Sunkist Kids won the team title with 58 points with the New York AC a close second with 55.
The tournament continues with the Greco-Roman competition on Friday and the freestyle competition on Saturday.
U.S. NATIONALS WOMEN'S FREESTYLE - FINALS RESULTS
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) dec. Sara Fulp-Allen (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 3-0, 1-0
51 kg/112.25 lbs.
Patricia Miranda (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) pinned Katherine Fulp-Allen (El Granada, Calif./New York AC), 1-2, 1:15
55 kg/121 lbs.
Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./New York AC) dec. Leigh Jaynes (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 1-0, 1-1
59 kg/130 lbs.
Kelsey Campbell (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) dec. Deanna Rix (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) dec. Vanessa Oswalt (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), 1-0, 4-2
67 kg/147.5 lbs.
Adeline Gray (Denver, Colo./New York AC) dec. Sheila McCabe (El Cajon, Calif./OCU Stars), 8-0, 8-2
72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Stephany Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) dec. Jenna Pavlik (Colorado Springs, Colo./OTC), 3-0, 4-0