PAULSON, SIMS WIN OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION TOURNAMENTS PRIOR TO PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS AND QUALIFY THE U.S. FOR THE 2000 OLYMPICS AT 54 KG AND 69 KG; HALL AND LINDLAND TO BEGIN ACTION IN EVENING SESSION Two U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers, Brandon Paulson (Golden Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) and Heath Sims (Huntington Beach, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) won Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournaments, and qualified the United States for the 2000 Sydney Olympics at their weight classes.
A separate "Olympic qualification tournament," with only non-qualified nations entered, was held prior to the 2000 Pan American Greco-Roman Championships in Cali, Colombia today. Only the champion of this event earns his nation a spot at the Sydney Games. This is the format which has been held at all continental championships this year.
Paulson won three matches and captured the 119 pound title. He beat Julio Maldonado of Guam, 8-0 in the first match. In the second bout, he stopped David Ochoa of Venezuela, in a 1-1 overtime referee's decision. The match was protested and re-wrestled, and Paulson beat Ochoa 8-0 in the second match. In the championship match, Paulson pinned Victor Caldacho of Colombia in 3:54.
Paulson was a 1996 Olympic silver medalist, and claimed the 2000 U.S. Nationals title.
Sims also had three victories to capture the title at 152 pounds. He beat Jorly Patino of Venezuela, 4-2, then stopped Rafael Aguilar of Mexico, 8-0. In the finals, he stopped Fedo Izquierdo of Colombia, 3-1.
Sims was the 2000 U.S. Nationals champion at his weight class, and was a member of the 1995 U.S. World team.
With the victories, the United States has now qualified to compete in the Olympics in Greco-Roman at six weight classes (119 lbs., 138.75 lbs., 152 lbs., 187.25 lbs., 213.75 lbs. and 286 lbs.).
The U.S. still has a chance to qualify at the two remaining weight classes, 127.25 pounds and 167.5 pounds. As none of the Pan American nations have yet qualified for the Olympics at these weights, the results of the actual Pan American tournament will determine which nation will compete in Sydney.
Attempting to qualify for the U.S. at these weights are Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds and Matt Lindland (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) at 167.5 pounds.
Hall will compete in a pool of athletes which includes Mexico, Canada and Colombia. Should he win his pool, he is expected to face Roberto Monzon of Cuba in the gold-medal finals. Hall pinned Monzon in the gold-medal finals at the 1999 Pan American Games in Canada.
Lindland is in a pool of athletes which also includes Chile, Canada and Puerto Rico. The top competitor in Lindland's weight division is 1993 World Champion Nestor Alamanza of Cuba.
The Pan American Greco-Roman Championships begin in all eight weight classes this evening. Other U.S. Greco-Roman athletes from qualified weight classes who are competing at the Pan American Championships include Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds, Dan Henderson (Gresham, Ore./Dave Schultz WC) at 187.25 pounds, Garrett Lowney (Appleton, Wis./Minnesota Storm) at 213.75 pounds and Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 286 pounds.
The Pan American Championships in men's freestyle and women's freestyle will begin later this week. The U.S. has already qualified all eight weight classes in men's freestyle wrestling for the 2000 Olympics. Women's wrestling is not yet an Olympic sport.
PAN AMERICAN OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION TOURNAMENT
at Cali, Colombia, May 22
U.S. Greco-Roman team results
54 kg/119 lbs. - Brandon Paulson, Golden Valley, Minn., 1st place - dec. Julio Maldonado (Guam), 8-0; dec. David Ochoa (Venezuela), 8-0; pin Victor Caldacho (Colombia), 3:54
69 kg/152 lbs. - Heath Sims, Huntington Beach, Calif., 1st place - dec. Jorly Patino (Venezuela), 4-2; dec. Rafael Aguilar (Mexico), 8-0; dec. Fedo Izquierdo (Colombia), 3-1
Note: The U.S. earns Olympic qualification positions at 54 kg and 69 kg.