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O’Donnell, Smith win women’s golds at Yarygin Tournament in Russia; Morrison claims bronze medal

2/29/2004 Gary Abbott/USA Wrestling

Two U.S. women wrestlers captured gold medals at the Ivan Yarygin Tournament in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Feb. 29.

Capturing titles in their divisions were Tela O’Donnell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

O’Donnell won three matches on Sunday to capture the crown. She had lost a bout in her pool on Saturday, and qualified for a repechage wrestle-back for a chance at the semifinals. In the repechage, there was only one opponent, and she defeated World bronze medalist Jenny Wong (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), 4-3.

In the semifinals, O’Donnell advanced with an injury default over Marcie Van Dusen (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids). Van Dusen was unable to compete in the bronze-medal match, and earned fourth place.

In the gold-medal finals, O’Donnell defeated Natalia Karamchakova of Russia, 9-6.

“She was behind in the match,” said John Peterson, a U.S. coach on the tour. “She took her down and got a bar arm, and turned her twice. She held her the first time for one extra point. That made the difference.”

Smith was in a five-athlete round-robin competition at her weight class, and finished the tournament with a 3-1 record. On Sunday, she had only one bout, stopping Alena Stardubsena of Russia, 5-1.

No athlete had a perfect record in the tournament at her weight class. When the medals were determined, Smith won the gold, Svetlana Martynenko of Russia won the silver and Anna Shamova of Russia won the bronze. Smith had lost to Martynenko, but defeated Shamova.

Two other U.S. athletes were defeated on Sunday and fell short of winning a medal: Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. and Samantha Lang (Tualatin, Ore./Sunkist Kids) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

In the men’s division, claiming a bronze medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. was Dean Morrison (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC). It was the second medal won by the U.S. men, as Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) won a silver medal at 84 kg/185 lbs. on Saturday.

Morrison captured third place, when Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) did not compete in the bronze-medal match.

Cormier won a quarterfinal match on Sunday morning, defeating Oleg Kallegov of Russia, 5-2. Both U.S. wrestlers were defeated in the semifinals. Morrison dropped a 4-3 match to Khajimurad Gatsalov of Russia, and Cormier fell to Alexander Shemarov of Belarus, 5-0.

“We had the chance to win both of the semifinals,” said Peterson. “Morrison went into the clinch and took Gatsalov to his back for three points. Gatsalov is powerful, and hit him with high crotches, catching him flatfooted twice.”

“Cormier had beaten his opponent before using throws,” Peterson continued. “He forced a throw that cost him two points, then he had to play catchup. On the edge of the mat, he tried another throw and it cost him two more. Shemarov is a brawler, a basic wrestler who has good defense.”

Cormier is ranked No. 1 in the USA at this weight class, and was fifth in the 2003 World Championships. Morrison holds a No. 2 national team ranking. Cormier had defeated Morrison in a Special Wrestle-off for a spot on the U.S. team last summer.

A team of U.S. men wrestlers will compete in dual meet competition in Russia later this week.

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