U.S. World Team Trials Friday, Session II Recap

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jordan Burroughs has been told by his coach Mark Manning that he has the potential to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. Now the 22-year-old Burroughs will get his first chance to put his skills to the test against the world's best wrestlers.

Burroughs was one of nine champions crowned on Friday night at the 2011 U.S. World Team Trials at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. Eight of the nine champions crowned, including Burroughs, earned spots on the 2011 U.S. World Team that will represent the United States at September's World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Jordan Burroughs made his first U.S. World Team with a two-match victory over Andrew Howe on Friday night (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Burroughs displayed his rare combination of speed, power, and athleticism to defeat 2010 U.S. Open champion Andrew Howe in two straight matches to claim the title at 74 kilos in men's freestyle.

The first match in the best-of-three finals series was a seesaw battle that went three periods, with all three periods decided by a point. Burroughs then closed out the victory by winning the second match in two straight periods, 3-1, 1-0. Burroughs had previously beaten Howe in the finals of the 2010 Midlands Championships.

"I was a little tense, as you could see, the first match," said Burroughs, who also won his second NCAA title and first U.S. Open title this year. "I gave up a lot of takedowns. I just opened up a little bit the second match. Coach Manning just told me to relax and do what I came here to do."

So what is Burroughs' thought process heading into his first World Championships?

"Keep winning," said Burroughs. "When I enter any tournament, that's what I do ... I go to win, no matter what I'm doing. I'm a competitor and that's what I love to do is win. I've been doing this for a long time. This is my craft. This is my sport. This is my lifestyle."

Burroughs was not the only first-time Trials champion crowned in men's freestyle. Reece Humphrey captured his first Trials title with a two matches to one victory over Ohio RTC training partner Shawn Bunch at 60 kilos.

Reece Humphrey won the U.S. World Team Trials on Friday night, defeating Shawn Bunch in the best-of-three finals series (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Bunch, a 2009 U.S. World Team member, took the first match in two straight periods, outscoring Humphrey 9-1. But the resilient Humphrey battled back to win the final two matches and take the three-match finals series.

"We train together pretty much every day," Humphrey said of Bunch. "He's a good friend of mine. I have nothing against him. He's a great wrestler. We just both want to win."

Humphrey was the lone champion crowned on Friday night who did not earn an automatic berth on the 2011 U.S. World Team. Because Bunch won the Alexander Medved International in March, Humphrey and Bunch will be entered in an international event in July, and the highest finisher will earn on a spot on the 2011 U.S. World Team.

"To be honest, I'm excited about it," Humphrey said of having to earn his spot at the international event in July. "I haven't proven myself on the World level except for University and Junior stuff. So I'm excited. The tournament that got him into that position I went 0-1 in and he won the whole thing. I realized I had to change something. I got really dedicated to the sport. I changed a lot of things. Now I've beat him three times. The results should be the same."

The other champion crowned in the men's freestyle competition on Friday night was Jake Varner, who made his second U.S. World Team in three years at 96 kilos. Varner won his title by defeating surprise finalist Chad Hanke, an NCAA qualifier at Oregon State, in two straight matches without surrendering a point.

Jake Varner proved to be too much for Chad Hanke (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
"I went out there, wrestled my match, felt really good, and stuck to my plan," said Varner.

Varner has trained under Penn State coach Cael Sanderson for most of his college and post-college career, first at Iowa State and now with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

"He's a big reason why I'm at where I am today," said Varner, a two-time NCAA champion and four-time NCAA finalist at Iowa State.

Sanderson, an Olympic gold medalist in 2004, made headlines earlier this week when he announced that he would be wrestling at the Trials. He competed at the Brockport Regional in March, which he said was "just for fun." Now Sanderson, who went 159-0 as a college competitor at Iowa State, has his sights on becoming the best in the world again. Varner is excited about Sanderson's return.

"I think it's awesome," said Varner. "I'm excited to watch him wrestle. I was lucky to watch him wrestle at the Brockport tournament. It's just fun watching him wrestle. People go YouTube him ... and it's just awesome. It's something else. I'm excited."

Spenser Mango made his fourth straight U.S. World or Olympic Team on Friday night, beating Paul Tellgren (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Three of the four Greco-Roman champions crowned on Friday night -- Spenser Mango, Justin Lester, and Dremiel Byers -- have been multiple-time Trials winners. Mango and Byers were on last year's U.S. World Team. The other Greco-Roman champion crowned, Cheney Haight, made his first U.S. World Team.

Mango won in two straight matches over Paul Tellgren to make his fourth straight U.S. World or Olympic Team at 55 kilos. It was a rematch of the U.S. Open final. Mango won four of five periods in the best-of three finals series and outscored Tellgren 14-2.

Mango is a past Junior World medalist, but he is still looking for his first World-level medal on the senior level. So what does he need to do to medal at this year's World Championships?

"You need to put about four good matches together," said Mango. "You can't just beat a World champ and then come back and lose to a guy that's not that good. You have to put all these matches together and go out there and don't give anybody too much respect."

Lester and Byers both registered shutout victories over U.S. Army teammates to make the U.S. World Team. Lester, a two-time World bronze medalist defeated Glenn Garrison in two straight matches to win the title 66 kilos. Byers, a three-time World medalist and World champion, topped Timothy Taylor in two straight matches to win the championship at 120 kilos.

Haight put together an impressive tournament, beating 2009 U.S. World Team member Chas Betts in the semifinals, before taking out 2011 U.S. Open champion Jordan Holm in the best-of-three finals series, two matches to one, to capture the title at 84 kilos.

Cheney Haight needed three matches to defeat U.S. Open champion Jordan Holm (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
Haight used to compete at 74 kilos, but moved up to 84 kilos, which he says has helped his wrestling immensely.

"I've been able to place a little higher the last couple years after I moved up a weight just because I don't focus on losing weight anymore," said Haight. "It's all about wrestling. I think just my overall wrestling has been getting better."

Haight won in the absence of returning U.S. World Team member Jake Clark.

"I didn't even notice that he wasn't at weigh-ins," Haight said of Clark. "I didn't know that he didn't come to the tournament until I looked at the brackets. I was surprised. I still don't know why he's not here. I think it was some kind of injury or something."

Helen Maroulis and Ali Bernard were the two champions crowned in the women's freestyle competition.

Maroulis handled Ashley Hudson two matches to zero to take the title at 55 kilos. The 19-year-old Maroulis previously made the U.S. World Team in 2008. She is excited to have another opportunity to wrestle at the World Championships.

"It's definitely an honor and a privilege," said Maroulis, a two-time Junior World medalist. "I really appreciate that I can do what I love and people support me."

Bernard, who was fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games, defeated 2005 World champion Iris Smith at 72 kilos to make her third U.S. World or Olympic Team in four years.

Saturday's competition is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CDT.

Friday Night Finals Results

Men's Freestyle

60 kg:
Reece Humphrey (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC) def. Shawn Bunch (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC), 2 matches to 1
Bunch dec. Humphrey, 5-0, 4-1
Humphrey dec. Bunch, 2-0, 1-0
Humphrey dec. Bunch, 3-0, 3-0

74 kg:
Jordan Burroughs (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) def. Andrew Howe (Cedar Lake, Ind./New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Burroughs dec. Howe, 1-0, 1-2, 3-2
Burroughs dec. Howe, 3-1, 1-0

96 kg:
Jake Varner (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) def. Chad Hanke (Dayton, Ore./NWRTC), 2 matches to 0
Varner dec. Hanke, 3-0, 2-0
Varner dec. Hanke, 3-0, 2-0

Women's Freestyle

55 kg:
Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./New York AC) def. Ashley Hudson (Wildwood, Mo./Gator WC), 2 matches to 0
Maroulis dec. Hudson, 1-0, 2-0
Maroulis, dec. Hudson, 6-2, 3-0

72 kg:
Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Gator WC) def. Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 0
Bernard dec. Smith, 1-0, 1-1
Bernard dec. Smith, 3-1, 1-3, 1-0


55 kg:
Spenser Mango (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Paul Tellgren (Anoka, Minn./Minnesota Storm), 2 matches to 0
Mango dec. Tellgren, 6-0, 0-2, 2-0
Mango dec. Tellgren, 2-0, 4-0

66 kg:
Justin Lester (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Glenn Garrison (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 0
Lester dec. Garrison, 2-0, 3-0
Lester dec. Garrison, 4-0, 2-0

84 kg:
Cheney Haight (Boise, Idaho/New York AC) def. Jordan Holm (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), 2 matches to 1
Holm dec. Haight, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
Haight dec. Holm, 3-0, 1-0
Haight dec. Holm, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0

120 kg:
Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) def. Tim Taylor (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 2 matches to 1
Byers dec. Taylor, 3-0, 1-0
Byers dec. Taylor, 1-0, 2-0


Login or Register to post a comment