Eighteen champs were crowned at the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Brent Metcalf earned a spot back on the U.S. World team for the first time in three years, but he wasn't quite ready to admit that he's back where he belongs.
"I'm getting there," said Metcalf.
Brent Metcalf gets his hand raised after defeating Kellen Russell in two matches (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)Metcalf made his first U.S. World team in 2010, but was one and done at the World Championships in Moscow, and then failed to make the U.S. team in 2011 and 2012.
Metcalf dominated U.S. Open champion Kellen Russell in two straight matches in the best-of-three finals on Saturday night. Metcalf earned a 7-0 technical fall in the first period of the first match, scoring two takedowns, a turn, and receiving an additional point for an unsuccessful challenge by Russell. Metcalf earned another technical fall in the second match.
"I appreciate this," said Metcalf after his victories over Russell. "This is a big deal because I've fallen short the last two years. So winning this is big. Maybe I'm not as elated because I have a sour taste in my mouth from Moscow and from the last two years. But I am excited about it."
Earlier in the day Metcalf avenged a loss from the U.S. Open to Jordan Oliver, who entered the Challenge Tournament as the top seed. The match at the U.S. Open was contested under the old set of rules. This week's tournament was the first major U.S. event contested under a new set of rules. Many believe Metcalf's wrestling style, which relies on conditioning and wearing out opponents, is better suited for the new rules that have longer periods.
"This is wrestling," said Metcalf of the rule changes. "Does it favor me? Maybe. But it favors the guy I'm wrestling too because if he wrestles and trains the way he should it's to his advantage too. It's to an American's advantage ... You could argue that. But those Russians are tough. They're going to adjust quick and they're still going to find ways to win."
A day after the Ohio RTC put two wrestlers on the U.S. World Team in freestyle, the Columbus, Ohio-based club added two more. Keith Gavin (84 kilos) and Tervel Dlagnev (120 kilos) earned spots on the U.S. World Team, joining fellow Ohio RTC wrestlers Reece Humphrey (60 kilos) and J.D. Bergman (96 kilos).
Keith Gavin was one of four Ohio RTC wrestlers to make the 2013 U.S. World Team (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)"Everybody is winning, so you don't want to be the guy not winning," said Gavin.
For Gavin, it's his first time on a U.S. World team after finishing third at the Trials the past two years, and runner-up in 2010.
On Saturday night, Gavin found himself in a 4-0 hole early in his first finals match against Clayton Foster after giving up a takedown and a two-point turn. But Gavin methodically worked his way into the match and eventually won 6-4. In the second match Gavin built a 3-0 lead before Foster scored a takedown to cut the deficit to one in the second period. Foster was close to scoring the go-ahead takedown late in the match, but Gavin held on for the win.
Dlagnev shut down Tyrell Fortune in the championship at 120 kilos in men's freestyle. Dlagnev won the first match 6-0, scoring with a takedown and pushout in the first period. He then scored with a three-point move in the second period for the 6-0 victory. Dlagnev used two takedowns, a pushout, and a two-point turn to earn a 7-0 technical fall in the second match.
Dlagnev, a 2009 World bronze medalist and 2012 Olympian, has had an up-and-down season. He has battled sickness, which included positional vertigo, pneumonia, sinus infection and a fever at the U.S. Open, where he suffered a loss to Dom Bradley. Dlagnev earned an automatic spot in the best-of-three finals after Bradley was unable to compete at the Trials.
"This tournament was fun," said Dlagnev. "Obviously, I only had two matches. Just these last three weeks practice has been fun. My fatigue feels like normal fatigue. Now when I get tired I push through it. It just hasn't been that way. It's been a very daunting process."
Obe Blanc gets in on a single leg against Angel Escobedo in the finals (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)Obe Blanc made his second U.S. World team at 55 kilos. The 28-year-old Blanc won in two consecutive matches over Angel Escobedo in the finals. Blanc won the opening match 4-0 on the strength of two first-period takedowns. He then closed it out with a 3-1 victory in the second match.
In 2010, Blanc won his first two matches at the World Championships to reach the quarterfinals and was on his way to winning his third to reach the semifinals, but was pinned in a match he was leading. Blanc feels like he has grown as a wrestler since 2010.
"I think now I'm a little smarter, a litter wiser from the experience of wrestling all that time," said Blanc. "I kind of have a little chip on my shoulder. I guess that's really the biggest difference. I'm more honed in. I've seen what can happen and that's what makes me better."
Jesse Thielke became the youngest member of the 2013 U.S. World Team at age 20 after a three-match victory over another young, rising star, 21-year-old Ryan Mango at 60 kilos in Greco-Roman.
Thielke, who attends the University of Wisconsin, cruised to a 9-2 technical fall in the first match. Mango, a two-time All-American at Stanford University, bounced back in the second match, winning by scoring with two three-point throws. The third and deciding match was a back-and forth battle. Thielke led 3-1 in the third before Mango used a three-point throw to take a 4-3 lead. But Thielke came back with a three-pointer of his own and took the match 7-3.
"Things just fell into place," said Thielke of winning the Trials. "I've just been training really hard in Madison after NCAA season. I went out to Colorado really preparing to peak for this."
Andy Bisek was dominant in the finals against Jon Anderson (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Andy Bisek of the Minnesota Storm made his second U.S. World team at 74 kilos in Greco-Roman, but earned his first U.S. World Team Trials title. In 2011, Bisek filled in for an injured Jake Fisher at the World Championships.
On Saturday night, Bisek was dominant in the championship, winning two matches by technical fall over Jon Anderson of the U.S. Army, the same wrestler who defeated Bisek in the first round of the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City.
"That hurt a lot," Bisek said of his loss to Anderson last year. "This doesn't quite make up for it, but it's sure doing a lot for me."
Bisek entered this week's Trials as the No. 4 seed. In the semifinals he defeated top-seeded Ben Provisor, a 2012 Olympian, before his win in the finals over the third-seeded Anderson. Still, Bisek doesn't consider his wins over his higher seeded opponents upsets.
"Anything can happen any day," said Bisek. "I know there are upsets. But I think with the top four or five guys, I wouldn't even call it upsets. There are seeds and there are numbers, but they don't mean anything. It's the way it can go any way, any day."
Caylor Williams of the U.S. Army made his first U.S. World team by pinning Marcus Finau twice, both times in the first period, in the best-of-three finals at 96 kilos in Greco-Roman.
Elena Pirozhkova is currently ranked No. 2 in the world (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Returning World champion Elena Pirozhkova was dominant in the finals at 63 kilos in women's freestyle against Erin Clodgo, winning the first match by pin and the second match 6-1.
Pirozhkova is currently ranked No. 2 in the world behind Kaori Icho of Japan. Icho is a seven-time World champion and three-time Olympic champion. Icho is riding a 153-match winning streak. Pirozhkova relishes the opportunity to wrestle the Japanese wrestling legend.
"How many times do you have a chance to beat a legend? It's my opportunity," said Pirozhkova. "I think that's what makes the sport exciting. I really hope I meet up with her, and I hope it's a finals match."
Alyssa Lampe, a returning World bronze medalist, earned a spot on the U.S. World Team at 48 kilos with a hard-fought three-match victory over Victoria Anthony, a two-time Junior World champion. Lampe pinned Anthony late in the first period of their first match. In the second match Anthony built an 8-2 lead, but nearly surrendered the lead late in the match. She held on for the 10-8 victory. In the third and deciding match Anthony led 4-3 after the first period, but was taken down and pinned by Lampe early in the second period.
"I definitely want to make my mark," said Lampe. "I don't want to lose to anybody in the next three years. So whoever is looking to come up, I'm ready for them."
The 2013 World Championships take place Sept. 16-23 in Budapest, Hungary.
Obe Blanc (Titan Mercury WC) over Angel Escobedo (New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Blanc dec. Escobedo, 4-0
Blanc dec. Escobedo, 3-1
Brent Metcalf (Titan Mercury WC) over Kellen Russell (New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Metcalf dec. Russell, 7-0
Metcalf dec. Russell, 8-1
Keith Gavin (Titan Mercury WC) over Clayton Foster (GRIT Athletics/Cowboy WC), 2 matches to 0
Gavin dec. Foster, 6-4
Gavin dec. Foster, 3-2
Tervel Dlagnev (Sunkist Kids) over Tyrell Fortune (Titan Mercury WC), 2 matches to 0
Dlagnev dec. Fortune, 6-0
Dlagnev dec. Fortune, 7-0
Jesse Thielke (Badger WC) over Ryan Mango (Unattached), 2 matches to 1
Thielke dec. Mango, 9-2
Mango dec. Thielke, 8-5
Thielke dec. Mango, 7-4
Andy Bisek (Minnesota Storm) over Jon Anderson (U.S. Army), 2 matches to 0
Bisek dec. Anderson, 10-1
Bisek dec. Anderson, 9-2
Caylor Williams (U.S. Army) over Marcus Finau (New York AC/USOEC), 2 matches to 0
Williams pinned Finau, 2:50
Williams pinned Finau, 1:54
Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids) over Victoria Anthony (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 1
Lampe pinned Anthony, 2:54
Anthony dec. Lampe, 10-8
Lampe pinned Anthony, 4:35
Elena Pirozhkova (Titan Mercury WC) over Erin Clodgo (Sunkist Kids), 2 matches to 0
Pirozhkova pinned Clodgo, 3:34
Pirozhkova dec. Clodgo, 6-1