Roberts and McMann claim bronze medals at World Championships

BUDAPEST -- Two U.S. women wrestlers, Sally Roberts (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 59 kg/130 lbs. and Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) won bronze medals at the World Championships of Women's Freestyle wrestling in Hungary,

Roberts defeated Anna Zwirydowska of Poland, 7-0, 6-2 in the bronze-medal match.

Roberts ended the first period of the match quickly, scoring a 1-point arm spin only 11 seconds into the match. She then scored three consecutive 2-point gut wrenches, ending the period 7-0.

In the second period, Zwirydowska scored first, earning 1 point off a leg attack and following up with a 1-point leg lace. That would be all the scoring for Zwirydowska as Roberts rallied with a 1-point high crotch followed by two consecutive 2-point gut wrenches to take a commanding 5-2 lead. Roberts closed the match out with a 1-point go-behind as time expired.

Sally Roberts
The bronze medal is Roberts' second world-level medal as she also won bronze at the 2003 World Championships in New York City.

Earlier in the day, Roberts lost a high scoring match in the semifinals to eventual silver medalist Mariann Sastin of Hungary, 7-4, 7-6. The loss to the local crowd favorite sent Roberts to the bronze medal match.

Roberts started the semifinal match scoring a 2 point arm spin to a gut wrench and quickly followed with another 2 point gut wrench. Sastin stopped Roberts third gut wrench attempt, stepping over her to close the score to 4-2. The Hungarian then scored a 3 point double leg to gain the lead at 5-4. She closed off the period with a 2-point exposure off Roberts escape attempt as time ran out in the period.

The two wrestlers scored a combined 13 points in a wild second period as Sastin built a strong 4-0 lead off of an out-of-bounds point and a 3-point hip toss. Roberts responded with a 1-point high crotch but was again stopped in a gut wrench attempt, giving up a 2-point exposure and a 1-point hold. Although Roberts was down by 6 points, she was allowed to continue her hold and finish her gut wrench for 2 points. She again scored on a 2 point gut wrench and was awarded another point for the fold to close within one. The flurry of points wasn't enough as time ran out on Roberts, giving Sastin a 7-6 win.

McMann followed up Roberts's performance with a bronze medal of her own, earning a solid 1-2, 2-1, 4-2 victory over Anna Polovneva of Russia.

McMann lost the first period as Polovneva scored a 2-point hip toss 22 seconds into the match. The only scoring the rest of the period came when McMann was able to fight off her back and score a 1 point reversal midway through the period.

In the second period, McMann controlled the tempo and earned two consecutive points when she drove Polovneva off the mat. Polovneva scored a late 1-point double leg to close the gap to 2-1 before time expired and forced a third and decisive period.

McMann scored early in the third period with a single leg attack that drove Polovneva off the mat for a 1-0 lead. She then hit a 3-point hip toss that sealed the win and the bronze medal as Polovneva was only able to muster two late 1 point scores before the match ended.

The bronze medal is McMann's third world level medal and follows her silver medal performance from last year's Olympic Games.

McMann was pushed to the repechage (wrestlebacks) when her first round opponent, Kaori Icho of Japan reached the championship match. In her repechage match, McMann defeated Helena Allandi of Sweden, 2-5, 4-2, 2-2 to advance to the bronze medal match.

In the first period, McMann scored twice to take an early lead. Allandi tied the match at the halfway point on a reversal before scoring late on a flurry with back exposure and a hold to take the period 5-2.

The second period saw McMann fall behind early, giving up a one point single leg and a 1 point exposure. She fought back scoring two consecutive takedowns and a late exposure to win the period 4-2. In the final period, the two traded scores before McMann stopped Allandi's bow and arrow attempt and earned the decisive 1-point reversal.

Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) was eliminated from medal contention at 55 kg/121 lbs. when her second-round opponent, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Tonya Verbeek of Canada, failed to reach the gold medal finals.

The U.S. women and men continue competition on Friday with Katie Downing at 67 kg and Iris Smith at 72 kg wrestling in the women's freestyle competition and Lindsey Durlacher at 55 kg wrestling in the Greco-Roman competition.


59 kg/130 lbs. - Sally Roberts, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC):

"I am the eternal bronze medalist, darn it! Against Hungary, I had no idea what the score was. I tried to get as many points as I coud, but sometimes they gave it to her. I knew I was wrestling against a Hungarian in Hungary. I had to make it more clean. I get a step closer each year, but I haven't made it yet. I'm closer; I miss the top step to the finals. I'm not giving up until I get the gold. I want to win that at the Olympics. I have to talk to FILA about getting this weight class there."

"My quarterfinals match against the Italian was a dogfight. Fifteen minutes later, I had to wrestle the Hungarian superstar. I'm in condition. I lost my head a little. That had to do with me getting third place. I thought I would go bam, bam, bam. I need to do that in the finals. My match against Italy was at knotch 11. I had to stay at knotch 11."

"I'm pretty happy with it. I give this tournament everything I had. I pulled it out. I'm not mad. I have to work on little things. My list is long, but it's little things. My goal for next year is to go to as many international tournaments as I can. It's learning to wrestle only 15 minutes later that is hard."

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Sara McMann, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids):

"It is a quote from someone else, but it is my favorite. 'Winning does not develop our strength. Our struggles develop our strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.'"

U.S. Women's World Team Coach Bill Scherr:

"We got a few medals today. It is better than nothing. I thought the two women who were bronze could have been gold. Things happen. They showed a lot of guts wrestling back and getting bronze. Sara could have packed it in but she fought back hard. She helped the team and helped herself. Sally was the same way. She's a fighter, no matter what. She lost a tough match, then came back to win a tough match. You could cut your head off and she'd still be wrestling you."

"I'm glad to get the bronzes, but we are not satisfied. We need two medals and we need a champion tomorrow. They are tough women and they want to win. We will see how it turns out."


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