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Henson, Slay win their pools and advance; Slay's win over Olympic champion Saitiev a major upset; Ko



Two U.S. freestyle wrestlers had strong performances in the evening session, claiming their pool competition and advancing to the quarterfinals at the Olympic Games, held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, September 28: Sammie Henson (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) at 54 kg/119 lbs. and Brandon Slay (Amarillo, Texas/Dave Schultz WC) at 76 kg/167.5 lbs. Slay's second victory of the evening was monumental, defeating 1996 Olympic Champion and three-time World Champion Bouvaisa Saitiev of Russia in his second match. Saitiev is considered one of the greatest active freestyle wrestlers in the world and was the favorite at this weight class. Against Saitiev in the second match, Slay opened up with an explosion, scoring a double leg takedown then a quick two-point turn for a 3-0 lead about 40 seconds into the bout. Saitiev hit a reversal at the end of the action to make it 3-1. Saitiev added a single leg takedown at 2:03 and a very flexible counter takedown at 2:58 to tie the bout at mid break at 3-3. No points were scored in the second period. In overtime, Slay got behind Saitiev during an attack and was awarded the winning takedown at 6:54. Russia immediately protested the match, but the protest was denied. In his first match of the session, Slay beat Plamen Paskalev of Bulgaria, 4-1. He led 1-0 in the first period, and added three more takedows for a 4-0 lead in the second. Paskalev's point was late in the bout after Slay had established dominance. Henson scored a strong 9-1 win over Chihara Tanabe of Japan during the session. Henson led 2-1 after the first period, and opened his offense in the second stanza with takedowns and turns. Henson won his first match of the tournament in the morning session. In the quarterfinals, Henson will face Oleksandr Zakharuk of Ukraine, and Slay has drawn Gennadi Laliyev of Kazakhstan. Both are in the morning session. By advancing out of their pools, Henson and Slay have guaranteed a placement in the top six of their weight division. Melvin Douglas (Mesa, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) lost two matches at 97 kg/213.75 pounds and was eliminated from the tournament after failing to win the pool competition. In a battle of world champions, Douglas lost his first match of the session to Saguid Mourtasaliyev of Russia, 3-1 in overtime at 7:15. Mourtazaliyev scored a first period takedown for a 1-0 lead, but Douglas added one of his own in the second period for a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation. In overtime, Douglas attempted a single leg, which Mourtazaliyev blocked, then hit a two-point crotch lift for the 3-1 victory. Douglas was a 1993 World Champion, while Mourtazaliyev is the reigning 1999 World Champion. In their last meeting, Mourtazaliyev beat Douglas in the 1998 Goodwill Games. The victory gave Mourtasaliyev the pool victory, as he had beaten Vadym Tasoiev of Ukraine in the morning session. Mourtasaliyev advanced into the quarterfinals on Friday morning. In his final match of the Games, Douglas lost a 5-1 decision to Vadym Tasoiev of Ukraine, with all the points coming early in the bout. Cary Kolat (Morgantown, W.Va./Dave Schultz WC) did not have a match during the evening session. In the morning session, Kolat lost a re-wrestled match to Mohammed Talaei of Iran, then pinned Ramil Islamov of Uzbekistan. In the evening session, when Talaei received an injury default win over Islamov, he won the pool competition and Kolat was eliminated from the tournament. Freestyle Wrestling, September 28, 9:30 a.m. 54 kg - Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Chikhara Tanabe (Japan), 9-1 63 kg - Cary Kolat, Morgantown, W.Va. (Dave Schultz WC) no bouts this session 76 kg - Brandon Slay, Amarillo, Texas (Dave Schultz WC) dec. Plamen Paskalev (Bulgaria), 4-1 dec. Bouvaissa Saitiev (Russia), 4-3, ot, 6:34 97 kg - Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids) lost dec. to Saguid Mourtasaliyev (Russia), 3-1, ot, 7:15 lost dec. to Vadym Tasoiev (Ukraine), 5-1
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