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|U.S. World Team Trials preview in men's freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs.|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Sam Hazewinkel enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2012.
Hazewinkel came through to make the U.S. Olympic Team in men's freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs. and now he is trying to build on that performance this season.
Hazewinkel did not compete at the U.S. Open because he was recovering from an injury, but he will be one of the favorites at the U.S. World Team Trials on June 21-22 in Stillwater, Okla.
Hazewinkel returned to competition at the United 4 Wrestling event, falling to a Russian opponent last month in Los Angeles.
2010 World Team member Obe Blanc looked dominant at April’s U.S. Open in Las Vegas. He swept Frank Perrelli 6-0, 4-0 in the finals in Vegas.
Blanc clinched a spot in the best-of-3 finals at the Trials by virtue of his win at the Open. He will face the Challenge Tournament winner in the final-round series.
Past Northwestern All-American Brandon Precin also wrestled well at the Open, defeating Mark McKnight in the third-place match.
Two-time NCAA runner-up Nico Megaludis of Penn State has burst onto the freestyle scene this year. Megaludis downed Ben Kjar for fifth place at the Open. Megaludis followed by defeating 2012 University World silver medalist Zach Sanders to make the 2013 U.S. University World Team.
Past NCAA champion Angel Escobedo is another top contender in this class, but he has been hampered by an assortment of injuries in the past few years.
This weight class has seen its share of changes. Five different wrestlers have been the U.S. representative at the Olympics or World Championships over the past five years.
The U.S. is looking for its first World medal in this class since Sammie Henson earned a bronze medal in 2006.
The new FILA rules, implemented after the U.S. Open, also will be in place at the World Team Trials. There are now two three-minute periods with cumulative scoring. Takedowns are now worth two points instead of one.
2013 U.S. OPEN RESULTS AT 55 KG/121 LBS.
1st – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Frank Perrelli (New York AC/FLWC), 6-0, 4-0
3rd – Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (New York AC) dec. Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), 1-0, 2-0
5th – Nico Megaludis, Murrysville, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Ben Kjar, Orem, Utah (Titan Mercury WC), 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
7th – Steve Mytych, Coplay, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC) dec. Zach Sanders, Lauderdale, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 4-3, 6-0
U.S. WORLD TEAM TRIALS QUALIFIERS AT 55 KG/121 LBS.
’12 Olympic Team Trials Champion – Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
’12 Olympic Team Trials second place – Nick Simmons, Corvallis, Ore. (Sunkist Kids)
’12 Olympic Team Trials, true third place – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC)
’13 Pan American Championships Champion – Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open Champion – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open second place – Frank Perrelli (New York AC/FLWC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open third place – Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (New York AC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open fourth place – Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open fifth place – Nico Megaludis, Murrysville, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open sixth place – Ben Kjar, Orem, Utah (Titan Mercury WC)
’13 MFS U.S. Open seventh place – Steve Mytych, Coplay, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC)
’13 MFS University National Champion – Nico Megaludis, Murraysville, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’13 MFS University National second place – Zach Sanders, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
’13 Northeast Regional Champion – Lucas Malmberg, Marathon, N.Y. (Finger Lakes WC)
’13 Northern Plains Regional Champion – Kyle Hutter, Norfolk, Va. (HRWA/VBRTC)
’12 Henri Deglane Challenge third place – Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’13 Cerro Pelado International third place – Frank Perrelli, Hackettstown, N.J. (New York AC)
’12 Ziolkowski International second place – Angel Escobedo, Columbus Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC)