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Sunday Recap: Olympic Team Set

5/25/2004 12:30:00 PM By Matt Krumrie – Senior Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – 2000 Olympic Gold medalist Rulon Gardner is going to Athens, and so are Cael Sanderson and Kerry McCoy.

But the biggest story from Sunday’s finals of the 2004 United States Olympics Wrestling Team Trials was Dennis Hall’s victory over Brandon Paulson in the 55 kg finals. Hall defeated Paulson 4-3 in overtime in a match that lasted 16 minutes, 54 seconds. Hall won the first match 3-2 in overtime, and Paulson won the second match 3-1 before the draining final match that had the crowd of 9,478 cheering for both wrestlers, clapping and saying that it was too bad someone had to lose.

Even more intriguing is the fact that Hall and Paulson are longtime workout partners and close friends. Paulson advanced to the 1996 Olympics where he won a silver medal at 55kg, while Hall won a Silver medal the same year, but at 60 kg.

Paulson led 2-0 late in the third match before Hall earned a three point move to go ahead 3-2 with 36 seconds remaining. Paulson then earned one point for an escape with 28 seconds remaining to tie the match 3-3 and eventually sending it into sudden victory overtime. The two locked and battled for a long, long time, before Hall earned one point on the edge of the mat for the win.

Gardner avenged his loss to Dremiel Byers in the 2004 U.S. National Championships Sunday, defeating Byers twice to win the 120 kg weight class, while Sanderson defeated Fullhart – the 2004 U.S. Nationals champion, winning the third match of their 84 kg freestyle match by a score of 4-1. Sanderson, a four-time NCAA national champion at Iowa State who went 159-0 in his career, qualified for his first Olympics.

McCoy defeated Tolly Thompson in the first two matches to get back to the Olympics, where he placed fifth in freestyle at 120 kg in the 2000 Olympics.

“Tolly has been a big part of my success,” says McCoy. “He’s been there, he’s helped me train. The United States is really starting to get some depth at heavyweight.”

McCoy said he knows he will face many of the same world competitors in Athens, and will also see some of them in the upcoming Titan Games.

“This was a big step but only a start, I want more,” said McCoy.

The first women’s U.S. Olympic wrestling team was decided. Patricia Miranda (48 kg), Tela O’Donnell (55kg), Sara McMann (63), and Toccara Montgomery (72) all won their weight class. Women’s wrestling will be an Olympic sport for the first time this year, and the U.S. qualified competitors at 4 of the seven Olympic weights.

O’Donnell became the first women in U.S. Women’s wrestling history to qualify for the Olympics.

“It’s a great feeling and I just hope to represent the United States the best that I can,” said the 21-year-old O’Donnell, who is from Homer, Alaska and played on her high school football team.

Daniel Cormier may have been the most impressive wrestler Sunday. Cormier defeated Tim Hartung in the 96 kg freestyle final, pinning Hartung at 4:47 in the first match and winning 7-0 in the second match. Hartung was still feeling the effects of an elbow injury suffered in the first match, but Cormier has had Hartung’s number, and has now won five of the last six matches against the former two-time University of Minnesota national champion.

“The matches were a lot closer than they looked,” said Cormier. “Tim’s a tough guy who wanted to represent the United States just as bad as I did. I don’t know how much his elbow hurt him or if he would even say it affected him because he was wrestling hard and didn’t give up.”

Cormier, who is from Louisiana and never won a national title while at Oklahoma State, said the chance to represent the United States is the ultimate accomplishment.

“The best wrestlers in our country are here, and to emerge as the best is greater than any collegiate national title for me,” said Cormier.

Cormier said Olympic champion and coach John Smith has been a big influence in his success.

“Before I met coach Smith I would win, but he took me to the next level,” said Cormier. “He taught me how to train, how to prepare for different guys, he did a lot for me and is a big reason I am here.”

Tournament Notes:

• Kevin Bracken took his shoes off and left them on the mat, signaling the end of his career after his loss to Oscar Wood. Bracken received a standing ovation from the crowd, and then did a backflip to even more cheers.

• The match between Paulson and Hall was the only meeting of the finals between past Olympians.

• There will be no U.S. representative in the Olympics at the 74 kg Greco-Roman weight class because the U.S. did not qualify a wrestler at that weight. However, Keith Sieracki and Darryl Christian still competed in the finals in order to set members of the United States national team, with Christian winning.

• On Saturday, June 5 USA Network will air a two-hour show covering the Trials. Check your local listings near that date for times.

• Sara McMann competes on the men’s team at Lock Haven University.

• Numerous former U.S. Olympians were honored before the evening session. Among the stars were Bruce Baumgartner, Shelby Wilson, Buddy Lee, John Peterson, Steve Fraser, Kenny Monday, Kevin Jackson, and Matt Lindland.

• Total tournament attendance was 24,505.

Check back with The Wrestling Mall this week for more news, notes, quotes, interviews and an updated photo gallery from the 2004 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials.

Men’s Freestyle

55 kg – Sammie Henson (Sunkist Kids) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Stephen Abas (Sunkist Kids)

Match 1 – Abas Dec. Henson, 5-3

Match 2 – Abas dec. Henson 3-2

60 kg – Mike Zadick (Hawkeye WC), vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Eric Guerrero (Gator WC)

Match 1 – Guerrero dec. Zadick, 3-1

Match 2 – Guerrero dec. Zadick, 5-2

66 kg – Jared Lawrence (Minnesota Storm) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Jamill Kelly (Gator)

Match 1 – Kelly Dec. Lawrence 4-1, OT

Match 2 – Lawrence dec. Kelly, 2-1

Match 3 – Kelly dec. Lawrence, 5-1

74 kg – Joe Heskett (Gator) vs. U.S. nationals Champion Joe Williams (Sunkist)

Match 1 – Williams dec. Heskett, 4-0

Match 2 – Williams dec. Heskett, 5-2

84 kg – Cael Sanderson (Sunkist) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Lee Fullhart (Hawkeye)

Match 1 – Sanderson dec. Fullhart, 3-1

Match 2 – Fullhart dec. Sanderson, 2-2 OT criteria

Match 3 – Sanderson dec. Fullhart, 4-1

96 kg – Tim Hartung (Minnesota Storm) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Daniel Cormier

Match 1 – Cormier pinned Hartung, 4:47

Match 2 – Cormier dec. Hartung, 7-0

120 kg Tolly Thompson (Sunkist) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Kerry McCoy

Match 1 – McCoy Dec. Thompson, 5-3

Match 2 – McCoy dec. Thompson, 8-0

GRECO-ROMAN

55 kg Dennis Hall (Sunkist) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Brandon Paulson (Minnesota Storm)

Match 1 - Hall dec. Paulson 3-2, OT; 6:05

Match 2 – Paulson dec. Hall 3-1

60 kg – Joe Warren vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Jim Gruenwald

Match 1 – Gruenwald dec. Warren, 5-3

Match 2 – Gruenwald dec. Warren, 3-0

66 kg – Kevin Bracken (NYAC) vs. U.S. Nationals second place, Oscar Wood (Army)

Match 1 – Wood pinned Bracken at 1:47

Match 2 – Wood dec. Bracken 3-0

74 kg – Keith Sieracki (Army) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Darryl Christian (NYAC)

Match 1 – Christian dec. Sieracki, 4-0

Match 2 – Sieracki dec. Christian, 3-2, ot

Match 3 – Sieracki dec. Christian, 3-2, ot

84 - Jake Clark (Marines) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Brad Vering

Match 1 – Vering dec. Clark 5-1

Match 2 – Vering dec. Clark 3-1, overtime

96 kg – Garrett Lowney (Minnesota Storm) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Justin Ruiz (NYAC)

Match 1 – Lowney ref dec. Ruiz, 1-1, 9:00

Match 2 – Lowney dec. Ruiz, 2-0

120 kg – Rulon Garner (Sunkist) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Dremiel Byers (Army)

Match 1 – Gardner dec. Byers. 2-1. overtime

Match 2 – Gardner dec. Byers, 2-1

WOMEN’S FREESTYLE

48 KG – Clarissa Chun vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Patricia Miranda

Match 1 – Miranda dec. Chun, 6-3

Match 2 – Miranda tech, Chun, 10-0

55 kg – Tela O’Donnell (DSWC) vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Tina George

Match 1 – O’Donnell pinned George, 5:57

Match 2 – O’Donnell pinned George

63 kg – Alaina Berube (NYAC) vs. U.S. Nationals, second place Sara McMann

Match 1 – McMann, dec. Berube, 5:57

Match 2 – McMann, dec. Berube, 4:12

72 kg – Kristie Marano vs. U.S. Nationals Champion Toccara Montgomery

Match 1 – Montgomery dec. Marano 9-6, overtime, 6:19

Match 2 – Montgomery dec. Marano, 4-3

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