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|Olympic Trials come to exciting end in front of over 13,000 in Iowa City|
By Roger Moore Special to TheMat.com
Sam Hazewinkel pumps his fist after breaking through to win the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 55kg/121 pounds in Iowa City, Iowa on Sunday night. (Larry Slater Photo)
IOWA CITY – The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials wrapped up on Sunday with Clarissa Chun becoming the first two-time Olympian in women’s freestyle history for the United States, Sam Hazewinkel joining his father as an Olympian, Jared Frayer knocking off a hometown favorite, and young Ellis Coleman winning a title in front of 13,712 to finish off a two-day total of 54,766 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, without question a Trials record.
Nine champions were crowned – three in Greco-Roman, four in freestyle, and two in women’s freestyle – with eight of them punching their ticket to London.
Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Alyssa Lampe split periods in the first bout with the 2008 World champion coming out strong in the third to win 3-1 and earn the first match of the series. Chun came out like she had to be somewhere else in the second bout, scoring a quick technical in the first period. But Lampe showed plenty of fight with a takedown in the closing seconds to force a third period, and then won a scrappy third period, 5-2, to send the series to a third match. In the Challenge Tournament finals Lampe also lived dangerously, scoring at the buzzer to beat Victoria Anthony in a decisive third period.
The deciding bout in the series at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Chun was five seconds away from victory but Lampe again came up with last second points to force another two minutes. In the end, the 2008 Olympian and World Champion was too much in a decisive 4-1 third period.
“I almost gave myself and my coaches a heart attack. My coach said, ‘do you want me in your corner or what, because you’re not hearing me, you’re not listening to anything I’m saying'," said the 30-year-old Chun.
Chun is the first woman wrestler in U.S. history to make two Olympic Teams.
"In 2008, I was the underdog," said Chun. "Coming through that you’re on momentum, on a high. You’re like ‘yeah, I’m only two matches away from making the Olympic team.’ It’s the same feeling as sitting out, but you don’t get that momentum and high of winning each match.”
Hazewinkel (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) beat friend and foe Nick Simmons in a 55 kg/121 lbs. best-of-three series that went the distance with the former Greco star rebounding after dropping the first match. Along with his father Dave, an Olympian in Greco in 1972, the 29-year-old is believed to be the only wrestler whose father also competed at the Olympics in wrestling.
"I am so happy my dad could be here to see it," said Hazewinkel. "Having my family here, my wife. It is awesome. (My dad) tries to make it when he can. This one worked out great because, with the ’72 team, he didn’t even have to worry about coming up with the money to make it here. Everything worked out, unbelievable."
As expected when Simmons, a fifth place finisher at the 2011 World Championships, and Hazewinkel hook up the two twisted and turned for three periods in the opening bout. Hazewinkel forced a third with a 5-0 second period win, but the spider-like Simmons used a pair of slick turns to claim the third, 5-4.
The second bout saw another split of the first two periods, Hazewinkel winning a challenge at the end of the second to stay alive, and then forcing a third bout with a push-out from the clinch after another short video review.
In the deciding bout, Simmons won the first after drawing his color in the ball draw. As most would expect the two rivals needed a third period as Hazewinkel controlled the second two minutes. A scoreless final two minutes resulted in a ball draw with the former Sooner’s color coming out of the bag. A 10-second flurry resulted in Hazewinkel scoring a pair of points to earn a long awaited chance at a spot on a World Team.
"It has been a long battle," said Hazewinkel. "It really has. It says something about perseverance and keeping your head up and staying positive. The last few years, it got hard. It really did. You get that many seconds, and it becomes its own battle just thinking you can take first. We worked real hard on mental game this year and getting over that hump. I believed it paid off."
It’s hard to call a United States Olympian a villain, but Frayer certainly sent Hawkeye fans home disappointed on Sunday night. Frayer, a 33-year-old originally from Clearwater, Fla., knocked off Brent Metcalf in two straight bouts to claim top honors at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. in freestyle
In the opener, Frayer (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) drew first blood with a slick takedown, then added exposure points for a dominating first period victory. A failed headlock attempt by Frayer, followed quickly by two gut-wrenches gave Metcalf a 4-0 win in the second. However, the former Sooner and Hawkeye assistant coach exploded immediately in the third for a 6-0 technical fall to claim the match and give Metcalf his first loss in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Half an hour later, Metcalf forced a third period with a takedown from the clinch. In the third Frayer countered a low attack with a two-point exposure and held on after two late takedowns to claim the spot after a handful of close calls at Trials competition. One of those Trials losses came to Metcalf in the 2010 Trials finals.
"It was bittersweet I guess," said Frayer giving up the last point in the match which sent the pro-Metcalf crowd into a frenzy. "I knew it was over and I thought maybe I screwed up and gave up something somewhere. It would be silly celebrating without winning, but I knew I had won."
The memory of losing to Metcalf in a controversial World Team Trials finals in 2010 still lingered.
"I think you saw today, there were a couple positions that went my way that didn’t go that way before," said Frayer. "That is the name of the game. That is how it goes. Luckily, I think I stored up some karma and got some good karma points at the end."
2009 World silver medalist Jake Herbert (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) stormed back after dropping the first match in the best-of-three against Travis Paulson at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Paulson rallied late in the second with a nice low-level attack to force a third period in the first match of the series. Officials reviewed a third period flurry as the two went off the mat and ruled that Herbert was out of the circle before Paulson which tied the period at 1-1. Paulson was able to hang on and took the first match of the series.
Herbert, a World Team Trials runner-up in 2011, came back strong in the second match-up with two solid periods to force a deciding third bout where the former Northwestern star opened with a 3-point move in the first and finished two takedown attempts in the second to secure a spot on the U.S. squad.
Tervel Dlagnev (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids), a 2009 World bronze medalist, took care of old rival Les Sigman for top honors at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Dlagnev took the first bout, outscoring Sigman, 7-0, in two periods. In the second match, a Sigman gamble in the second period proved costly as Dlagnev, a 26-year-old born in Bulgaria, swept the series. In 2010 Sigman earned a World Team spot by beating Dlagnev, who came back to take fifth at the 2011 World Championships after beating Steve Mocco in the Trials finals.
In Greco-Roman, Coleman (Colorado Springs, Colo./NYAC) punched his ticket to London with two straight wins over two-time Trials champion Joe Betterman at 60 kg/132 lbs.
The 20-year-old took the opener in consecutive periods. The Illinois native could not turn Betterman in the opening period of bout number two but had little trouble in the second two minutes to force a final period where, in the final 30 seconds, another powerful gut wrench sent the Illinois native to the first of what could be many Olympics.
The two are both resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center and both are from the Chicago area.
“I knew him from the beginning," said Coleman. "When I was a kid I was in his clinics and he used to coach me a bit. But I love Joe to death, he’s really tough. It was kind of odd. Joe used to do clinics and he used to coach me, remember Coach Powell? He was like yeah, I remember that. I never thought I’d be here, me and him in the finals.”
Twenty-one-year-old Ben Provisor, second at the 2011 Trials, ended 33-year-old Aaron Sieracki’s bid for an Olympic spot with a tough three-period win at 74 kg/163 lbs.
Sieracki won the opening bout in three periods, but Provisor forced a third by winning round number two, setting up a third bout which needed all three two-minute sessions. A power struggle at the edge of the mat saw a video review with officials ruling in Provisor’s favor.
Sieracki was also second at 2008 Olympic Trials and fourth in 2004. His older brother Keith won the 2000 and 2004 Trials but never competed at the Olympics, losing a court battle to Matt Lindland and an ensuing wrestle-off in 2000, and not competing in 2004 because the weight class did not qualify.
R.C. Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) won the Greco title at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. with two consecutive victories over Pete Gounaridis. The 29-year old Johnson, who made the 2009 U.S. World Team, will now wait and see if Justin Ruiz can qualify the U.S. for the Olympics at a qualifier next weekend in China.
Also in women’s freestyle, Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), a 2010 World silver medalist and fifth place finisher at the 2011 World Championships, won two straight matches to claim the title at 63 kg/138.75 lbs., beating Adeline Gray by identical, 1-0, 4-0, scores. Gray was a bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championships.
Championship Finals (best-of-three series)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Sam Hazewinkel (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids def. Nick Simmons (Corvallis, Ore./Sunkist Kids) 2 matches to 1
Simmons dec. Hazewinkel, 2-0, 0-5, 5-4
Hazewinkel dec. Simmons, 0-1, 1-0, 2-0
Hazewinkel dec. Simmons, 0-1, 4-0, 3-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Jared Frayer (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) def. Brent Metcalf (Iowa City/New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Frayer dec. Metcalf, 5-1, 0-4, 6-0
Frayer dec. Metcalf, 2-1, 0-1, 2-2
84 kg/185 lbs. – Jake Herbert (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) def. Travis Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Paulson dec. Herbert, 0-1, 2-1, 1-1
Herbert dec. Paulson, 4-2, 3-2
Herbert dec. Paulson, 3-0, 2-1
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tervel Dlagnev (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) def. Les Sigman (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), 2 matches to 0
Dlagnev dec. Sigman, 3-0, 4-0
Dlagnev dec. Sigman, 1-0, 2-0
60 kg/132 lbs. – Ellis Coleman (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) def. Joe Betterman (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Coleman dec. Betterman, 1-0, 2-0
Coleman dec. Betterman, 0-2, 5-0, 1-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Ben Provisor (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Aaron Sieracki (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 1
Sieracki dec. Provisor, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0
Provisor dec. Sieracki, 2-0, 1-0
Provisor dec. Sieracki, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
96 kg/211.5 lbs – R.C. Johnson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Pete Gounaridis (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Johnson dec. Gounaridis, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
Johnson dec. Gounaridis, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) def. Alyssa Lampe (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Chun dec. Lampe, 0-2, 1-0, 3-1
Lampe dec. Chun, 0-7, 2-2, 5-2
Chun dec. Lampe, 2-0, 2-2, 4-1
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) def. Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Pirozhkova dec. Gray, 1-0, 4-0
Pirozhkova dec. Gray, 1-0, 4-0