May 28, 2009

Trent Paulson sat in a chair near the edge of the mat.

Beads of sweat trickled down his face as he tried to catch his breath following his finals match at the U.S. Nationals on April 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Winning a hard-fought, nip-and-tuck, three-period battle over talented young Brent Metcalf in the freestyle finals at 145.5 lbs. was difficult enough.

But sitting there in the corner, watching his brother Travis trying to match his feat in the finals at 163 lbs., was even more stressful.

“I get more nervous watching Travis,” Trent said, “than I do for more my own matches.”

Said Travis: “I don’t like wrestling right after him. I get really nervous, and it’s like I’m wrestling the match with him. I didn’t watch his finals match in Vegas because I didn’t want to get emotionally drained before I competed.”

There typically is a special bond shared between identical siblings. And you won’t find a pair of twins closer than the Paulson brothers.

The 26-year-olds have more in common than their appearance. They both enter the U.S. World Team Trials on May 30-31 as the favorites to win their weight classes. Both won U.S. Nationals titles to earn berths in the best-of-3 freestyle finals at the Trials.

They also will be competing in their hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa, at the Trials.

If the Paulsons win the Trials, they will both qualify for the World Championships for the first time. The Worlds are set for Sept. 21-27 in Herning, Denmark.

“That’s our goal, to win a World title and win the Olympics,” Trent said. “That’s what pushes us every day in practice. We want to be the best.”


The Paulsons arrived at Iowa State University with impressive credentials.

Both were multiple state champions for Council Bluffs Lewis Central High School. Both won Junior Nationals titles.

The twins excelled at the collegiate level. Both were three-time All-Americans.

But they did fall short of their shared goal of both winning NCAA titles. Trent won an NCAA title at 157 as a senior, but Travis fell short after losing to two-time NCAA champion Johny Hendricks of Oklahoma State in the 165 semifinals.

“It was bittersweet,” Travis said. “That was the proudest I’ve ever been of Trent. I was so happy for him. At the same time, I was crushed because I didn’t win.

Said Trent: “We both wanted to win NCAA titles, but our goal is still alive to be World and Olympic champions. That’s what we’re shooting for now.”


Even though they are competing in weight classes almost 20 pounds apart, it is still tough to tell the Paulson twins apart.

Trent was born 20 minutes earlier than Travis. Travis is an inch taller. Trent has a scar on his cheek and Travis has one on his forehead.

“And I think his beard’s usually a little more hairy than mine,” Travis said with a laugh.

Both wrestlers would fit best at 163 pounds, but they want to make the World Team together.

157 was their ideal weight in college, but Travis made the sacrifice by bumping up a class to 165. Trent is now returning the favor by cutting down to 145.5.

The Paulsons also excel in Greco-Roman, and both could wrestle at 163 if one twin wrestled freestyle and the other wrestled Greco.

But they also want to train together, and that would be difficult if they compete in different styles.

Their matchups in the room are hard-fought, but not as heated as they used to be.

“We’ve always been pretty even,” Trent said. “We would dislocate our arm before we would let the other guy get a takedown. I didn’t want anybody to beat me, especially my brother. It’s tough wrestling him now, because he’s bigger and I’m keeping my weight down. It’s frustrating at times.”


To say the Paulsons were a handful growing up is a huge understatement.

The twins were so hyperactive, their teachers suggested putting them on the drug Ritalin to calm them down.

The Paulsons’ mother, Mary Ann, had a different idea. She had Trent and Travis take up wrestling.

“We had endless amounts of energy,” Trent said.

That energy was on full display during their early days of elementary school.

“The teacher left the room,” Trent said. “By the time she got back, the entire class was out of their desks and had made a circle around us. We were on the floor wrestling. I already had a broken arm and had a cast on my arm wearing colored contacts, but Travis wasn’t taking it easy on me by any means. We were really going at it. I think I kicked his shoe when he was walking by and that started it all.”

Said Travis: “We got into it all the time. It went back and forth. We got in a lot of fights with each other.”

The Paulsons used their abundant energy supply to excel in wrestling.

Weighing exactly the same created problems in tournaments where they ended up in the same bracket. They would often advance to the finals against each other.

But they’ve never met in competition. The first time they were supposed to wrestle, their parents flipped a coin and the winner of the flip won the match by forfeit.

They’ve alternated winners ever since, without stepping on the mat. At Junior Nationals, they were declared double champions in Greco-Roman after both making the finals.

They both ended up in the third-place match in freestyle.

“That sucked,” Travis said with a laugh, “because it was my turn to forfeit and he got third and I got fourth.”

If Trent bumps up to 163 pounds next year, he and Travis may meet in competition for the first time.

“We’ve talked about it,” Travis said. “We wouldn’t flip a coin anymore. There’s too much at stake. We would just have to battle it out on the mat.”


The Paulsons will have their share of support for the Trials, which will be held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The Paulsons will look to hit the jackpot at a venue that sits near the three large casinos located in Council Bluffs, situated right across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb.

As soon as tickets went on sale for the event, the Paulsons’ mother, Mary Ann, bought 100 tickets in the VIP section.

Trent said T-shirts are being made for everyone in the section to wear during the Trials.

“I’m so excited about wrestling in Council Bluffs,” Trent said. “It’s going to be a pretty loud and pretty fun atmosphere to wrestle in. It will be almost like a home meet for us. All our family and friends know how much we’ve put into our careers. Having the Trials in our hometown, I don’t know what else you can ask for.”

Said Travis: “It’s definitely an advantage, having our friends and family there. It’s going to be a great atmosphere for us in Council Bluffs. But it’s all business when I step on the mat. I need to be confident, and I still need to execute my game plan and strategy. I need to do everything I can to make that World Team. It would be great to make that team at home.”


The Paulsons train in Lincoln, Neb., in the wrestling room of their former rival, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Nebraska coach Mark Manning, who recruited the Paulsons when they were in high school, now works closely with the talented young twins.

The Paulsons also train with some of the top college wrestlers in the Husker room, including 2009 NCAA champion Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska.

Manning is one of the U.S. World Team coaches this year.

“It’s been great over at Nebraska,” Trent said. “We didn’t lose anything by coming over here after being at Iowa State. Manning’s been great. He puts us through freestyle practices and takes the extra time to help us. He’s gone above and beyond to help us out.”

Said Travis: “It’s a perfect situation for us in Lincoln. We are real comfortable in Lincoln. Manning has bent over backwards to help us. He’s a great guy to work with.”


Nobody has bought into the USA Wrestling freestyle program more in the past few months than the Paulson twins.

They were at the U.S. Olympic Training Center this past fall for the Freestyle Summit. They’ve been to all the training camps at the OTC. They’ve competed extensively overseas and placed in a number of events.

And they’ve taken part in the camps their club, the Sunkist Kids, has provided for them.

“We’ve bought in 100 percent to what USA Wrestling and (first-year National Coach) Zeke Jones is preaching,” Travis said. “Any opportunity that we have to get better, we’re going to take advantage of. Me and Keith Gavin, we are 1-2 on the ladder right now, but we’re going to wrestle each other because we want to get better. All our top guys need to train together and push each other.”

The Paulsons also spend an abundance of time studying tape of their U.S. and foreign opponents.

“In the past, I’ve never been one to break down film,” Travis said. “But I got all the DVDs and watched every single match from the Olympics in my weight class. I ended up taking 10 pages of notes from watching all the tape. I was looking at what was working and it’s helped me. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on by not watching video.”

The Paulsons are determined to see the U.S. return to the top of the World in freestyle wrestling.

“I definitely think the U.S. can get back on top,” Trent said. “We have a lot of hungry young guys who can make an impact. A lot of these young guys are buying in, and those are the guys who are winning right now.”

Said Travis: “I can definitely see us being right up there with Russia at the next Olympics. That’s our goal.”


No matter what happens – or even if they wind up battling one another in the same weight class down the road – the close bond between the Paulson twins will never be broken.

“We’re about as close as two people can be,” Trent said. “We can read each others’ minds. We feed off each other. If something is bothering him, I can tell just by looking at him. We read each other like a book. If I see him working hard in practice, I want to work just as hard.”

The Paulsons not only grew up in the same house together, they lived in the same house when they attended college in Ames, Iowa.

They now live together in the same apartment in Lincoln.

“Trent’s my best friend,” Travis said. “We’re around each other virtually 24 hours a day. I’m around him more than I would be around a wife or a girlfriend. We get along really well and really support each other. It’s a pretty special relationship. I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now without him.”

Traveling together this fall on the same flight to Denmark, as members of the same U.S. World Team, is a very realistic goal for the twins.

“It would be awesome to be on that World Team with Trent,” Travis said. “It would be the best feeling you can have. It would be like the cherry on the sundae.”

May 24, 2009

UPDATED: Thielke upsets Mango at FILA Junior Greco-Roman World Team Trials

High school sophomore Jesse Thielke (Germantown, Wis./Ringers) won two straight matches to upset FILA Junior Nationals champion Ryan Mango (St. Louis, Mo./New York AC) to capture the 55 kg/121 lbs. title at the 2009 FILA Junior World Greco-Roman Team Trials, held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, May 22.

FILA Junior athletes are from 17-20 years old. This includes many of the nation’s top college underclassmen, as well as the most talented high school athletes. Champions from the FILA Junior World Team Trials earn the right to represent the USA at the FILA Junior World Team Trials in Ankara, Turkey, August 4-9.

The championship finals was a best-of-three series between the FILA Junior Nationals champion and the winner of Friday morning’s Challenge Tournament. All eight of the championship finals were finished in two straight bouts.

Thielke, who is 16 years old and doesn’t turn 17 for another month, has never beaten Mango before, dropping close matches in previous age-group national competitions.

“The first match was the first time I have beaten Ryan. I have lost to him twice,” said Thielke. “I was looking to get a takedown and get on top of him. I stuck with my gut wrenches on top.”

Thielke scored the first points in both periods of the first match to win it in two periods, 4-3, 2-1. The second match went into the deciding third period, and Thielke hit a three-point throw on the edge to score the only points for the win, 0-1, 1-0, 3-0.

“It is a whole new world,” said Thielke of qualifying for the FILA Junior World Team. “I didn’t expect to do as well as I did here.”

Thielke had to win three matches in the ASICS Challenge Tournament to earn the right to face Mango for the championship.

“I was nervous from the first second, during every match. I tried to make as few mistakes as possible. Everything came together for me. It was my day,” said Thielke.

Two members of the 2008 FILA Junior World Greco-Roman Team won their weight classes in two straight periods: Ben Provisor (Stevens Point, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Peter Kowalczuk, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/ 264.5 lbs. Both entered the event as No. 1 seeds after winning the FILA Junior Nationals in April.

Provisor beat Aaron Briggs (Tucson, Ariz./Adidas USOEC), in two straight, winning 4-0, 1-0 in the first bout and 3-0, 1-0 in the second bout.

“I feel good. I did what I needed to do to make the team. You can’t be upset with that,” said Provisor. “I have a great chance this year. I got a little bigger for 74 kg. I’ve worked on my technique with my coaches. I’ll give it my all.”

Kowalczuk stopped Quintas McCorkle (Alexandria, Va./Clarion WC), scoring a pin in the first match in 1:10 and taking the second match, 1-0, 4-0.

“Last year, I went with high hopes, but it just wasn’t there. I have trained my butt off and I’m getting ready to try to take home the title,” said Kowalczuk. “This team is going to be good. We have a lot of young talent. We have a tough group of guys ready to go.”

At 96 kg/211.5 lbs., Tyrell Fortune (Portland, Ore./Peninsula WC) won both of his finals matches over Kazden Ikehara, Mililani, Hawaii (Falcon Training) by pin. In the first period, Fortune went into the second period before getting the pin, winning 6-0, 0:32. The second match ended quickly, with Fortune pinning Kazden in 12 seconds.

At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Donald Vinson Jr. (Marathon, N.Y./Shamrock WC) won both of his finals bouts over Patrick Smith, Chaska, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) by technical fall. Vinson won the first bout, 6-0, 6-0 and the second bout, 6-0, 7-0.

Other individual champions earning spots on the U.S. Junior World Team were Max Nowry (Wheeling, Ill./USOEC) at 50 kg/110.25 lbs. and Travis Rutt (New Prague, Wis./Badger WC) at 84 kg/185 lbs.

The World Team member at 60 kg/132 lbs. has not yet been determined. In Greco-Roman, FILA Junior Nationals champions who also placed in the top seven at the U.S. Senior Nationals had the right to delay the best-of-three series to a later date, tentatively set for the middle of June. FILA Junior Nationals champion Jimmy Chase (Carol Stream, Ill./Pinnacle School of Wrestling) has chosen to delay his championship series.

He will face Justin LaValle (Burnsville, Minn./Minnesota Storm), who won his championship series on Friday in two straight matches. LaValle was third at the 2009 FILA Junior Nationals. The date and location of the Special Wrestle-off will be announced shortly.

At Colorado Springs, Colo., May 30-31

Championship Series

50 kg/110.25 lbs - Max Nowry, Wheeling, Ill. (USOEC) dec. Carson Kuhn, Sandy, Utah (Vandit), 2 matches to 0
Nowry dec. Kuhn, 3-0, 7-0
Nowry dec. Kuhn, 2-0, 6-0

55 kg/121 lbs - Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (Ringers) dec. Ryan Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC), 2 matches to 0
Thielke dec. Mango, 4-3, 2-1
Thielke dec. Mango, 0-1, 1-0, 3-0

60 kg/132.25 lbs. – Justin LaValle, Burnsville, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) dec. Vincente Gallegos, Denver, Colo. (Denver All-Stars), 2 matches to 0
LaValle pin Gallegos, 1:39
LaValle dec. Gallegos, 0-6, 3-2, 2-2

(LaValle to face FILA Junior National champion Jimmy Chase, Carol Stream, Ill. - Pinnacle School of Wrestling in best-of-three series at a later date).

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Donald Vinson Jr., Marathon, N.Y. (Shamrock WC) dec. Patrick Smith, Chaska, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 2 matches to 0
Vinson tech. fall Smith, 6-0, 6-0
Vinson tech. fall Smith, 6-0, 7-0

74 kg/163 lbs. - Ben Provisor, Stevens Point, Wis. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Aaron Briggs, Tucson, Ariz. (USOEC), 2 matches to 0
Provisor dec. Briggs, 4-0, 1-0
Provisor dec. Briggs, 3-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs. - Travis Rutt, New Prague, Wis. (Badger WC) dec. Robert Barbour, Dolton, Ill. (USOEC), 2 matches to 0
Rutt dec. Barbour, 0-2, 2-0, 1-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Tyrell Fortune, Portland, Ore. (Peninsula WC) dec. Kazden Ikehara, Mililani, Hawaii (Falcon Training), 2 matches to 0
Fortune pin Kazden, 6-0, 0:32
Fortune pin Kazden, 0:12

120 kg/ 264.5 lbs. - Peter Kowalczuk, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Quintas McCorkle, Alexandria, Va. (Clarion WC), 2 matches to 0
Kowalczuk pin McCorkle, 1:10
Kowalczuk dec. 1-0, 4-0

May 23, 2009

Lyoto Machida-Rashad Evans: A New Breed of Fighting in the UFC

There's been no lack of opinions concerning the Lyoto Machida-Rashad Evans UFC 98 main event.

It's the MMA equivalent to Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, Peyton Manning vs. Brett Favre, Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Rafael Benitez.

It's going to shape the way fighters train and fight from May 23 forward.

But why? How could two fighters who flew well under the radar alter the way fighters approach fighting?

In one corner, there's Rashad Evans, who is (for all intents and purposes) the best career fluke in MMA history. The last choice to win The Ultimate Fighter 2 Tournament, the underdog in every match since then, and an underdog today, Evans didn't begin turning heads until he knocked out Chuck Liddell.

A grinding fighter with a decision-heavy record, Evans lacked the glaze that UFC light heavyweight champions traditionally have.

Ortiz has unmatched ground-and-pound. Couture has dirty boxing and indomitable wrestling. Liddell has punishing right and left hooks shot from the hip. Jackson has raw power. Griffin has work-ethic, intelligence, and a solid chin.

So what special trait does Evans bring to the title?

Adaptability in the face of adversity.

If anything, Evans should be known for his ring awareness and adjustments. Against fighters with readily exploitable weaknesses, Evans pounces.

Although Jackson was the first in a long list of challengers to exploit Liddell's long-winded yet devastating hook, Evans capitalized on the same error, smashing his right hand into Liddell's jaw with a left ready to follow basically knocking him out of his shoes.

Prior to his match with Liddell, Evans's kick to Sean Salmon's unsuspecting cranium displayed his fighting tact. After going one-dimensional and boxing for the majority of a round, Evans lands a KO wrestling kicks reeking of premeditation.

It's a fact that Evans' ability to adapt led to a majority of his wins. His style of fighting coupled with Greg Jackson's ideals in fighting has made fighters and fight fans aware of the importance, and benefits, of adapting properly to adversity.

The wave of the brawler is ebbing.

But the question on analysts' and writers' minds is how will Evans adapt to Machida, an evasive, calculating fighter who consistently stays one step ahead of his opponent?

Could it be a fact that Machida, cut-and-dry, is a more advanced fighter than Evans?

Shifting focus to the opposite corner, there's Lyoto Machida with a pristine record supported by enviable stats (highest strikes-landed percentage in UFC; shares prestige with Fedor Emelianenko for least amount of time spent on his back).

Although most writers, fans, and fighters like to emphasize Machida's effective application of karate techniques to MMA and his "elusive style," the most amazing and dangerous aspect of Machida is his mentality.

The fight-to-win mentality, by which Machida abides, was exemplified best by Anderson Silva. A lethal, precise striker who tends to smother his opponents with attacks (barring his latest performance), Silva changed the stand-up game in UFC overnight.

May 22, 2009

2009 FILA Junior World Team Trials

Live Sports Wrestling Video will provide coverage of the championship finals series from the 2009 FILA Junior World Team Trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 22-23.

Champions from the FILA Junior World Team Trials earn the right to represent the USA at the FILA Junior World Team Trials in Ankara, Turkey, August 4-9. FILA Junior athletes are from 17-20 years old.

The Greco-Roman finals will be held on Friday, May 22, starting at approximately 12:00 noon Pacific time.

The freestyle finals will be held on Saturday, May 23, starting at approximately 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

Let all fans know to watch this FREE (to you) web cast at:

In this competition, the No. 1 seed sits out until the best-of-three championship series, where he faces the winner from the Challenge Tournament held earlier in the day.

Among the stars to strap on their wrestling singlets in Greco-Roman are top seeds Ben Provisor, Peter Kowalczuk, Ryan Mango and Max Nowry.

Among the stars to watch in freestyle are top seeds Logan Stieber, Andrew Howe, Jordan Oliver, Mario Mason and Dominique Bradley.

This web cast is brought to you by Live Sports Video, USA Wrestling (and sponsors), and Feldmeier Equipment.


Friday, May 22
12:00 noon – Greco-Roman Championship Series: Match #1, Match #2 and Match #3 (If Needed)

Saturday, May 23
5:00 p.m.– Freestyle Championship Series: Match #1, Match #2 and Match #3 (If Needed)

No. 1 seeds at FILA Junior World Team Trials
(already qualified for Championship Series)

50 kg/110.25 lbs - Max Nowry, Wheeling, Ill. (USOEC)*
55 kg/121 lbs - Ryan Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC)*
60 kg/132.25 lbs. – Highest FILA Junior freestyle placewinner who attends the event
(Winner in the 60 kg class to face FILA Junior National champion Jimmy Chase, Carol Stream, Ill. - Pinnacle School of Wrestling in best-of-three series at a later date).
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Donald Vinson Jr., Marathon, N.Y. (Shamrock WC)*
74 kg/163 lbs. - Ben Provisor, Stevens Point, Wis. (DennisHall/World Gold WC)*
84 kg/185 lbs. - Robert Barbour, Dolton, Ill. (Sunkist Kids)*
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Tyrell Fortune, Portland, Ore. (Peninsula WC)*
120 kg/ 264.5 lbs. - Peter Kowalczuk, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)*

50 kg/110.25 lbs. - Brandon Escobar, Brentwood, N.Y. (unattached)*
55 kg/121.25 lbs. - Logan Stieber, Monroeville, Ohio (New York AC)##
60 kg/132 lbs. - Jordan Oliver, Easton, Pa. (Gator WC)*
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Mario Mason, Moorestown, N.J. (Minnesota Storm)*
74 kg/163 lbs. - Andrew Howe, Cedar Lake, Ind. (New York AC)##
84 kg/185 lbs. - Chris Perry, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC)*
96 kg/211.5 lbs.- Ryland Geiger, Portland, Ore. (Minnesota Storm)*
120 kg/ 264.5 lbs. - Dominique Bradley, Blue Springs, Mo. (Sunkist Kids)*

*- FILA Junior Nationals champion
## - U.S. Senior Nationals placewinner

May 20, 2009

UFC 99 Card: Does An Ace Beat an Axe

If looks could kill, then UFC middleweight fighter Rich Franklin would be very scared.

But it’s a good thing for Rich that the UFC fights involve a little more than facial features.

At UFC 99 in Koln, Germany, Franklin will look to rebound off a split decision loss at the hands of Dan Henderson at UFC 93. In the same respect his opponent, Wanderlei Silva, will be looking to show doubters that they are wrong in saying that his career may be over at the ripe age of 33.

News Break: Look for my upcoming article about how the UFC may be requiring all fighters to begin wearing wrestling shoes to protect their currently bare feet.

Silva's last bout was very important; with a win over bitter rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Silva would have been thrust into a possible title shot with Rashad Evans.

Now, he looks to get back on track, and prove that the "Axe Murderer" still has it.

Franklin is at a very awkward point in his MMA career as well.

Constantly fighting at 185 for most of his career, his last fight saw him jump back into the 205 lb division against former-Amateur wrestling star Dan Henderson, only to be bested on two of three judges scorecards.

The loss now put Franklin into that tough point in a fighter's career, where losses aren't something to be taken lightly.

There are pros and cons for both fighters, mainly cons for both, but that should make for a very good fight for fans, as neither fighter can afford to lose.

For Franklin, a loss digs him into deeper obscurity, and indecision.

For Silva, a loss could mean a change of scenery, or worse, a serious look at young retirement.

Though relatively the same could be said for Franklin, it would appear Silva's reputation for being a totally dominant fighter could dissolve with another devastating loss.

Regardless of the outcome, fans will not want to blink during this fight.

May 19, 2009

College Wrestling Coaches Tilt-a-Whirl

Originally posted by Steven Hammersley for BleacherReport

A summer filled with head coaching openings has created a nauseating experience for fans of many of the largest wrestling programs in the land. The sport well reputed for developing many of the top mixed martial arts stars (read: Dan Henderson, Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture) is often times mistaken for the WWE, but make no mistake about the names you're about to hear and their impact on their new locale.

Cael Sanderson, longtime Iowa State Cyclone, and the only undefeated division one NCAA champion in the history of the sport, left his perch with the 'Clones to move into the Nation's hotbed of wrestling talent—Pennsylvania. According to "Wrestling Talk", a social network of wrestling junkies, Sanderson takes with him his entire staff and several of the highly sought-after recruits that had originally followed him to Iowa State.

The list leaving ISU to follow "King Cael" includes Iowa State's most valuable wrestler, Jake Varner. Sanderson's will to win led him out of his comfort zone and into the throne at Penn State University, where he will now lead the Nittany Lions.

After the vacancy at Penn State was filled Iowa State was left in shambles compared to where they thought their program was headed. The difficult task, even for the University that churns out champions like Sanderson and Dan Gable, of replacing Olympic Champion Cael Sanderson was taken head on by Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.

Pollard spent a great deal of his time courting Terry Brands, the twin bother of the University of Iowa's elite head coach, Tom. Brands, showing his commitment to ISU's major in-state rival, turned down Pollard on multiple occasions including the day the announced their new coach, Kevin Jackson.

Jackson graduated from Iowa State in 1986-1987 after transferring from the defunct Louisiana State wrestling program and went on to win an Olympic gold in 1992 for the United States.

The University of Illinois kept their decision in-house. After long time coach Mark Johnson decided to retire this summer the Fighting Illini were quick to name his replacement, Jim Heffernan.

Heffernan, who paid his dues at the University as an assistant of 15 years, becomes yet another Iowa Hawkeye bred wrestler to take over a Division One post. While Heffernan is the least credentialed wrestler of the new coaching positions he makes up for it with decades of Division One coaching experience in the Big Ten and beyond.

Keeping the coaching change in the family will provide a more fluid transition for recruits and the current roster of stars.

Arizona State University released their coach, Thom Ortiz, after eight years at the helm. The Sun Devils struggled to move back into the national spotlight with a combination of mixed recruiting results and difficulty aligning a coaching staff.

While there were many glimmers of hope through the years the powers that be decided to move on to another young leader for their program. While the news has yet to be broken, several sources within the wrestling community point to Shawn Charles as the new man at the helm.

Excitement around this selection runs deeper than at most universities because ASU has been known for developing many of the UFC's most anticipated young stars.

January 2, 2009

A look back on 2008

December 2008

Enjoy the look back!

December 24, 2008

U.S. edges France for Gi team title at Grappling Worlds in Switzerland

U.S. edges France for Gi team title at Grappling Worlds in Switzerland
Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND – A day after dominating the No-Gi division, the United States came back with a smaller team yet emerged as the team champions in the Gi division at the Grappling World Championships on Sunday.

The U.S. was led by two gold medalists, Lisa Ward (Olympia, Wash./United Fight Team) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. in women’s Grappling and Ian Murphy (Fullerton, Calif. (Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness) at 92 kg/202.5 lbs. in men’s Grappling.

Ward became the only U.S. Grappler to win a double title, capturing both the No-Gi and Gi competitions. She scored a submission over Lisa Newton of Great Britain in the fnals with an armbar.

Murphy was the only U.S. men’s Grappler to be a finalist in both the No-Gi and Gi events. He won a silver medal in the No-Gi competition on Saturday.

In the finals, he defeated a talented competitor with a strong background in Gi jiu jitsu, Pierre Pilat of France, 2-1. It was the first time that Murphy had competed in a Gi Grappling competition.

Murphy’s victory in the finals allowed the United States to edge France in the team standings in Gi Grappling by one point.

"I was just going out there to give it a shot. I have learned a couple things over the years for the Gi, so I was hoping I could get by with my wrestling and No-Gi stuff,? said Murphy. “I just tried to get the guys tired and pass their guard at the end of the match and it worked. I was surprised!"

The U.S. added silver medals in the Gi competition from Brian Peterson (Valencia, Calif./Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Center) at 62 kg/136.5 lbs. and Tara LaRosa, Philadelphia, Pa. (Philadelphia Fight Factory) at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Peterson was defeated in the finals by Herminio Garcia of Spain by submission. LaRosa fell in the finals to Laurence Fouillat of France, 0-1. Fouillat was a gold-medalist both the No-Gi and Gi competitions.

“On Sunday, we only had a few athletes compete, but everyone pulled their weight,? said USA Wrestling Manager of Developing Styles Jason Townsend. “Ian Murphy pulled the victory through with his win in the finals. It was a dramatic win for the team. I was surprised that the USA won both styles. It was a great experience."

For more information on the FILA Grappling World Championships, visit the official website at:

At Lucerne, Switzerland, Dec. 21

U.S. Men’s results

62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Brian Peterson, Valencia, Calif. (Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Center), 2nd
WIN Tom Barlow (Great Britain)
LOSS Herminio Garcia (Spain), submission

70 kg/154 lbs. - Tom LeCuyer, Plano, Ill. (Atlas Xtreme Team, Torres Martial Arts), dnp
LOSS Michael Karkula (Canada)
LOSS Simone Franceschini (Italy)

80 kg/176 lbs. - Mike Kelly, Hebron, Ill. (Gilbert Grappling), dnp
Match results not currently available

92 kg/202.5 lbs. - Raphael Davis, Lomita, Calif. (Team Caique), dnp
LOSS Herb (Germany), submission

92 kg/202.5 lbs. - Ian Murphy, Fullerton, Calif. (Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness), 1st
WIN Yaman Nakdali (Spain), submission
WIN Gregor Herb (Germany), 4-1
WIN Pierre Pilat (France), 2-1

U.S. women’s results

48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Lisa Ward, Olympia, Wash. (United Fight Team), 1st
WIN Lisa Newton (Great Britain), submission

55 kg/121 lbs. - Tara LaRosa, Philadelphia, Pa. (Philadelphia Fight Factory), 2nd
Preliminary bouts not available
LOSS Laurence Fouillat (France), 0-1

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Molly Helsel, San Diego, Calif. (North County Fight Club), dnp
LOSS Julia Klammsteiner (Italy)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Miesha Tate, Olympia, Wash. (Victory Athletics), dnp
LOSS Julia Klammsteiner (Italy)

72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Angela Poe, Craig, Colo. (Grappler’s Edge), 5th
LOSS Alaina Hardie (Canada)
LOSS Julia Klammsteiner (Italy)

More results will be posted when available.

December 21, 2008

U.S. wins No-Gi team title at Grappling World Championships in Switzerland

U.S. wins No-Gi team title at Grappling World Championships in Switzerland
Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND - The United States dominated the competition to capture the team title in the No-Gi style at the Grappling World Championships on Saturday, December 20.

The United States swept the gold medals in the five men’s weight classes, and added an individual champion in the women’s division to take the No-Gi team title. The USA scored 135 team points, well ahead of runner-up France with 53 points. Canada, Great Britain and Poland rounded out the top five teams.

Claiming individual gold medals in the men’s competition were:
• Matt Sanchez (Sacramento, Calif./Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness) at 62 kg/136.5 lbs.
• Ricky Lundell (Ames, Iowa/Grappler’s Edge) at 70 kg/154 lbs.
• Jacob Volkmann (White Bear Lake, Minn./Minnesota Martial Arts Academy) at 80 kg/176 lbs.
• Raphael Davis (Lomita, Calif./Team Caique) at 92 kg/202.5 lbs.
• Jeff Monson (Olympia, Wash./American Top Team) at 125 kg/275 lbs.

Sanchez had a dominant performance, winning all four of his matches by submission. He stopped Tom Barlow of Great Britain in the finals by submission.

All five of the individual champions from the United States were winners at the Dollamur U.S. Grappling World Team Trials in Rocklin, Calif. in September, and hold the No. 1 ranking in the United States.

Both Lundell and Monson won World gold medals in Grappling at the 2007 World Wrestling Games in Antalya, Turkey. Sanchez was second at the 2007 World Wrestling Games, as well.

Two of the men’s finals were all-American contests. At 96 kg/211.5 pounds, Davis defeated Ian Murphy (Fullerton, Calif./Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness) in the finals by submission. At 120 kg/275 lbs., Monson stopped Brandon Ruiz (West Jordan, Utah/Grappler’s Edge) in the finals, 6-1. Both were rematches from the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials.

Lundell defeated Nicolas Renier of France in the finals by submission. Volkmann stopped Marcello Salazar Mousinho of Brazil in the finals, 4-1.

The U.S. won a total of nine medals in men’s Grappling. Along with the five champions and two silver medalists, the U.S. also brought home bronze medals by Brian Peterson, (Valencia, Calif./Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Center) at 62 kg/136.5 lbs. and Tom LeCuyer (Plano, Ill./Atlas Xtreme Team, Torres Martial Arts) at 70 kg/154 lbs. The only losses by Peterson and LeCuyer were to their American teammates.

In the women’s division, the U.S. placed four athletes in the finals. Capturing a gold medal was Lisa Ward (Olympia, Wash./United Fight Team) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., who defeated Lisa Newton of Great Britain in the finals by submission.

Ward was also a World champion at the 1997 World Wrestling shoes Games in Antalya, Turkey.

Three U.S. women won silver medals: Felicia Oh (Valencia, Calif./Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Fitness Center) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Molly Helsel (San Diego, Calif./North County Fight Club) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Miesha Tate (Olympia, Wash./Victory Athletics) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. All three were defeated by submission in the finals.

Complete information on the women’s results from the World Grappling Championships is not currently available and will be posted when received.

Grappling, also known as submission wrestling, was recognized as an international style of wrestling in 2006. FILA held its first major international event in Grappling in 2007 at World Wrestling Games in Antalya, Turkey. The United States swept all nine World titles in Antalya, with gold medals in the five men’s weight classes and four women’s weight classes.

This year, FILA will hold both a No-Gi and a Gi competition at the Grappling World Championships. The U.S. team qualified in No-Gi Grappling, and all of the team members competed in the No-Gi tournament on Saturday, December 20.

Many of the U.S. team members are also expected to enter the Gi tournament on Sunday, December 21.

For more information on the FILA Grappling World Championships, visit the official website at:

At Lucerne, Switzerland

62 kg/136.5 lbs.
Gold – Matt Sanchez (USA)
Silver – Tom Barlow (Great Britain)
Bronze – Brian Peterson (USA)
Bronze – John Louro (Canada)
5th – Jose Zapater (Spain)
5th – Fabian Brechetelle (France)

70 kg/154 lbs.
Gold – Ricky Lundell (USA)
Silver – Nicolas Renier (France)
Bronze – Tom LeCuyer (USA)
Bronze – Jose Fernando Ferreira (Spain)
5th – Joao Catisti (Brazil)
5th – Peter Mettler (Switzerland)

80 kg/176 lbs.
Gold – Jacob Volkmann (USA)
Silver – Marcello Salazar Mousinho (Brazil)
Bronze – Tomasz Michalowski (Poland)
Bronze – Davied Pierre-Louis (France)
5th – Ivalo Andreeve Kemnov (Bulgaria)
5th – Miguel Campos (Spain)

92 kg/202.5 lbs.
Gold – Raphael Davis (USA)
Silver – Ian Murphy (USA)
Bronze – Takanori Kuno (Japan)
Bronze – Nick Ring (Canada)
5th – Piotr Baginski (Poland)
5th – Stefan Osinski (Poland)

125 kg/275 lbs.
Gold – Jeff Monson (USA)
Silver – Brandon Ruiz (USA)
Bronze – Ioannis Arzoumanidis (Greece)
Bronze – Rodrigo Munduruca (Canada)
5th – Svetoslav Samoilov Zahariev (Bulgaria)
5th – Vlado Pilipovic (Croatia)

U.S. Men’s results

62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Matt Sanchez, Sacramento, Calif. (Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness), 1st
WIN Volkan Icki (Switzerland), submission
WIN John Louro (Canada), submission
WIN Jose Zapater (Spain), submission WIN Tom Barlow (Great Britain), submission

62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Brian Peterson, Valencia, Calif. (Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Center), 3rd
WIN Patrick Oppliger (Switzerland)
LOSS Tom Barlow (Great Britain)
WIN Herminio Garcia (Spain)
WIN Fabien Brechetelle (France)

70 kg/154 lbs. - Ricky Lundell, Ames, Iowa (Grappler’s Edge), 1st
WIN A. Panoussis (Canada)
WIN Tom LeCuyer (USA)
WIN Aleksandar Milicevic (Serbia)
WIN Joao Catisti (Brazil)
WIN Nicolas Renier (France), submission

70 kg/154 lbs. - Tom LeCuyer, Plano, Ill. (Atlas Xtreme Team, Torres Martial Arts), 3rd WIN Patrick Berisha (Kosovo)
LOSS Ricky Lundell (USA)
WIN A. Panoussis (Canada)
WIN Aleksandar Milicevic (Serbia)

80 kg/176 lbs. - Jacob Volkmann, White Bear Lake, Minn. (Minnesota Martial Arts Academy), 1st
Preliminary match results unavailable
WIN Marcello Salazar Mousinho (Brazil), 4-1

80 kg/176 lbs. - Mike Kelly, Hebron, Ill. (Gilbert Grappling), dnp/22nd
LOSS Hiroshi Tsuruya (Japan)

92 kg/202.5 lbs. - Raphael Davis, Lomita, Calif. (Team Caique), 1st
WIN Takanori Kuno (Japan)
WIN Kevin Webb (Great Britain)
WIN Piotr Baginski (Poland)
WIN Ian Murphy (USA), submission

92 kg/202.5 lbs. - Ian Murphy, Fullerton, Calif. (Alpha Male/Ultimate Fitness), 2nd
WIN Kemal Tajic (Bosnia and Herzoginiva)
WIN Stefan Osinski (Poland)
WIN Nick Ring (Canada)
LOSS Raphael Davis (USA), submission

125 kg/275 lbs. - Jeff Monson, Olympia, Wash. (American Top Team), 1st
WIN Hermann Binek (Germany)
WIN Vlado Pilipovic (Croatia)
WIN Ioannis Arzomanidis (Greece)
WIN Brandon Ruiz (USA), 6-1

125 kg/275 lbs. - Brandon Ruiz,West Jordan, Utah (Grappler’s Edge), 2nd
WIN Svetoslav Samoilov Zahariev (Bulgaria)
WIN Mohammed Cherif (France)
WIN Rodrigo Munduruca (Canada)
LOSS Jeff Monson (USA), 1-6

Women’s results (Incomplete at this time)

48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Gold – Lisa Ward (USA)
Silver – Lisa Newton (Great Britain)

55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold – Laurence Fouillat (France)
Silver – Felicia Oh (USA)

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold – Sheila Bird (Canada)
Silver – Molly Helsel (USA)
Bronze – Sara DeLuna (France)
Bronze – Caolimhe McGill (Great Britain)
5th – Sonia Raeber (Switzerland)
5th – Rosa Wellenzhon (Italy)

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Gold – Romy Ruyssen (France)
Silver – Miesha Tate (USA)

U.S. women’s performances

48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Lisa Ward, Olympia, Wash. (United Fight Team), 1st

55 kg/121 lbs. - Felicia Oh, Valencia, Calif. (Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Fitness Center), 2nd

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Molly Helsel, San Diego, Calif. (North County Fight Club), 2nd
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Miesha Tate, Olympia, Wash. (Victory Athletics), 2nd

55 kg/121 lbs. - Tara LaRosa, Philadelphia, Pa. (Philadelphia Fight Factory) results unavailable at this time

72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Angela Poe, Craig, Colo. (Grappler’s Edge) results unavailable at this time

Team Standings
1 United States, 135
2 France, 53
3 Canada, 43
4 Great Britain, 36
5 Poland, 34
6 Spain, 23
7 Brazil, 15
8 Switzerland, 14
9 Bulgaria, 14
10 Germany, 13

December 20, 2008

Oklahoma State captures team title at Reno Tournament of Champions

Oklahoma State captures team title at Reno Tournament of Champions
Roger Moore For

Related Links
College Wrestling Network

RENO, Nev. – Oklahoma State crowned just one champion – 285-pounder Jared Rosholt - but had enough to hold off Edinboro for the team title at the 14th Reno Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

The Cowboys totaled 146.5 points, placing eight among the top six, outdistancing the Fighting Scots by 14 points. Edinboro had three champions and eight among the top six.

North Carolina (94), Bakersfield (87.5) and Navy (79) rounded out the top five in the 30-team field.

“With this team, any win is a good win,? said O-State head coach John Smith. “It’s been a long week for us, a lot of traveling. We had some guys have pretty good tournaments. At the end of the day it isn’t what I was hoping for.

“Conditioning-wise, we aren’t where we need to be, but some of that probably has to do with the travel.?

The Cowboys beat Cal Poly on Tuesday night in San Luis Obispo before showing up in Reno on Wednesday afternoon.

Rosholt, the No. 1-ranked heavyweight in the country, survived a major scare in the finals against Duke’s Konrad Dudziak. The Cowboy junior appeared to be in control, taking a 4-0 lead into the final two minutes. But Dudziak scored a takedown, received a stalling point and nearly had a takedown at the edge of the mat as the final buzzer sounded in a 5-4 match.

Four Oklahoma State wrestlers lost in the finals, including Obe Blanc, who fell to top-seeded Anthony Robles of Arizona State in the 125-pound finals. Robles, named the Outstanding Wrestler, had two technical falls, a pin, a major and a 9-2 decision of Blanc in the finals.

“Obe is tough, I have a lot of respect for him,? said Robles, who was a win away from being an All-American in 2008. “I knew I had to go tough for seven minutes because he is a former All-American and those are the guys I have to beat to reach my goals.?

Arizona State also crowned Chris Drouin, who beat Oklahoma State’s Jamal Parks in the 141-pound finale. Parks appeared to have a victory with a third-period takedown, but Drouin scored with a double-leg attack in the final 10 seconds to force overtime where he scored with another double-leg shot for a 7-5 victory.

Edinboro had a solid day, crowning Gregor Gillespie (157), Jared King (165) and Chris Honeycutt (184).

Gillespie, a three-time All-American and national champ two seasons ago, beat O-State’s Neil Erisman, 8-0, in his finals bout.

A handful of teams sat out many starters, including Edinboro.

“I don’t know why guys wouldn’t come to this tournament … maybe they want an early Christmas break,? said Gillespie, who survived a scare from North Carolina’s Thomas Scotton in the quarterfinals. “I’d rather be here, you have to make weight one time so that can’t be it.

“I underestimated (Scotton). Sometimes it’s hard for me to get going, but our new coach (Kyle Cerminara) really gets me going.?

King, the top seed at 165, handled O-State’s Brandon Mason, 4-2, in his finals match.

Honeycutt was never really challenged all day, beating Wyoming freshman Joe LeBlanc, 4-1, in the finals.

The top seed won seven of the weight classes.

O-State’s Clayton Foster, the top seed at 197, lost a heartbreaker to California-Bakersfield’s Brandon Halsey. Foster scored a takedown in the final 15 seconds for a 7-6 lead, but Halsey, who beat Rosholt in the 215-pound Junior freestyle finals in Fargo in 2004, turned Foster’s cheap-tilt attempt into a headlock for a reversal and three near-fall points. Riding time gave Halsey a 12-7 victory.

Halsey, ineligible a year ago, made it stand up with three more wins and the title. He beat Stanford’s Luke Feist, 6-3, in the finals.
Another unseeded wrestler, Nebraska-Kearney’s Kamarudeen Usman, upset No. 1 seed Austin Trotman of Appalachian State in the 174-pound semifinals. However, Usman lost to Navy’s Luke Rebertus in the finals.

The Midshipmen also saw top-seeded Bryce Saddoris win a title, beating unseeded Nick Stabile of North Carolina, 7-4, in the finals at 149.
California-Fullerton’s TJ Dillashaw, seeded No. 1 at 133, survived three close matches on his way to a title. He beat Edinboro’s Ricky Deubel, 3-1, in the finals.

OSU’s Foster defaulted out of the tournament after his loss to Halsey. Kevin Wainscott, an unattached entry at 174 for Smith, also defaulted out of the tournament and Cody Hill, OSU’s entry at 174, battled an injury in his final match in the consolations.

Newly McSpadden, the starter at 157, lost to Cal Poly’s Chase Pami on Tuesday. Neither competed on Thursday.

“There is some concern right now with some of the injuries,? Smith said.

The iron-man award goes to OSU’s Jared Shelton. The 184-pound senior was pinned in his first match but won seven straight to take third.

Teammate Chris McNeil, unattached at 184, hammered Liberty’s Chris Daggett in the first round then proceeded to reach the semifinals before falling to LeBlanc. McNeil was fifth.

OSU’s Chris Notte took Dillishaw to the wire in the semifinals before losing a 7-5 match. He came back to beat Bakersfield’s Thomas Kimbrell for third.

“I liked what Chris Notte did, he had a good tournament,? said Smith. “For Jared (Shelton) to come back the way he did is good and Chris (McNeil) had a good showing.?

December 18, 2008


Roger Moore National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Even if Edward Eichelberger had never wrestled a match for Lehigh University he’d be remembered as one of the great individuals to ever set foot on the Pennsylvania campus.

“He was a real inspiration to me, a great teammate to have,? said Joe Gratto, a two-time All-American and 1957 NCAA champion. “There was never any question about his integrity and he was a 4.0 (GPA) or close in the toughest major at Lehigh.?

“He was Senior Resident in the dormitories and a very strong member of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Just a class guy.?

After graduating from Lehigh in 1956 with a B.S. in electrical engineering, Eichelberger joined IBM where he would spend the next 38 years until his retirement in 1994. He received his Masters and Ph.D. from Princeton, and along the way received 25 patents in the fields of chip, circuit and test design.

In 1974 he received the “Outstanding Contributor Award? from IBM for technical publications and patents.

“I was never the best student, but it turned out that I was a pretty good engineer,? said Eichelberger, who will be one of four inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum next June as the Class of 2009’s Distinguished Members. “Someone once said that nothing succeeds like success. I had a good wrestling career and some of that work I put in translated into my career after Lehigh.?

His wrestling credentials mirrored his accomplishments from IBM.
He was coached by a legend in high school – Billy Martin at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. – and by another legend in college – Gerald Leeman at Lehigh.

Eichelberger was undefeated his final three years of high school, winning three state titles in Virginia.

“I wrestled in Billy Martin’s first intramural tournament,? Eichelberger said. “I was actually going to go camping that weekend when I was in the Boy Scouts, but after a long talk with Coach Martin he talked me into wrestling in that tournament.

“He told me ‘I could go camping anytime, but that this tournament was only going to be one weekend.’ It was my first real exposure to wrestling. Nobody knew what wrestling was at that time in the state of Virginia.?

Martin had begun teaching some wrestling as a gym teacher at Granby. As a junior high student, Eichelberger’s first exposure came when a neighbor came home and started talking about something new that was going on in gym class.

A very quick learner, Eichelberger’s career at Lehigh included two NCAA championships and a 55-3-1 record with 37 pins. One of his losses came in the 1954 College finals to Myron Roderick of Oklahoma A&M.

He was named the EIWA Tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler in 1955 and 1956 and the sports NCAA Tournament’s OW in 1955 when he pinned 4 of 5 opponents.

“There was this interest we had at Granby in winning by fall,? Eichelberger said. “If you didn’t pin it was almost like a loss. We always worked on pinning combinations. (Coach) Martin always let you experiment with things. If you came up with something, and you thought it might work, he’d work with you on it.

“It wasn’t really like that when I got to Lehigh. The pin just didn’t seem as important.?

Martin, a member of the NWHOF’s Class of 1980, was also about competition. His first Granby team had a dual meet against Frank “Sprig? Gardner’s powerful Mepham High School squad in New York.

“That’s where I learned the cross-faced cradle, from those workouts with Mepham,? Eichelberger said. “I wrestled in three National AAU tournaments while I was still in high school. My sophomore year (at Granby) I wrestled the NCAA champion from two or three weeks earlier. Coach (Martin) just told me he was some guy from out west.?

As a senior at Granby, Eichelberger caught the eye of Lehigh coach Billy Sheridan. Already wanting to be an engineer, the move from Norfolk to Bethlehem was an easy one.

However, Leeman, a silver medalist in freestyle at the 1948 Olympics, would be Sheridan’s hand-picked successor and took over in the fall of 1952.

“(Leeman) was about my size so I got to train with him,? Eichelberger said. “My weakness was takedowns and he was one of the best. He really worked with me.?

For dual meets, Leeman would often weigh-in both Eichelberger and Gratto at 147 pounds.

“There were a lot of coaches who tried to duck Eichelberger in duals,? Gratto said. “If they threw out a back-up, I’d generally take him apart and Ed would whip their starter up a weight.?

“I was always pleasured to participate in a dual meet because it meant a day away from Eichelberger in the practice room. He was mild-mannered … and there was nothing cocky about him … but you were generally on your back within about 45 seconds when you wrestled him.?

Added Eichelberger, “We had three 147-pounders and we’d kind of flip a coin to see who was going down to 137. The other guy would wear a coat and wrestle at 157.?

As a senior, Eichelberger wrestled most duals at 157 pounds.

His competitive days would soon come to an end after 1956, spending most of his time focused on his new job at IBM.

“It was a little of a lot of things,? he said. “A friend who wrestled at Harvard came to IBM the same time I did and we worked out some together, but it was hard to stay involved with so little competition around.?

“I went back to Princeton for graduate school and worked out briefly with their team, but oddly enough the coach didn’t really want me around.?

After returning from Princeton, Eichelberger helped coach a high school team in Endicott, N.Y., for a semester.

A devout Catholic, Eichelberger always added Galatians 6:14 to his signature.

It reads: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

December 15, 2008


Roger Moore National Wrestling Hall of Fame

On the mat Peter Steele Blair was as tough and intimidating as anybody who’s ever put on a wrestling singlet.

Off the mat he put forth the same effort in regards to his fellow man and service to his country.

Blair, who died June 29, 1994, after a short bout with cancer, will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum next June as part of the Class of 2009’s Distinguished Members.

Joe Gattuso, a two-time All-American, was a teammate of Blair from 1951-55 at the Naval Academy. Midshipmen head coach Ray Swartz tabbed Gattuso, a 167-pounder, and Blair, a 177-pounder, the “Goldust Twins.?

“I don’t really remember why, they just called us that because we were special at the time,? said Gattuso, who was also fullback for Navy’s 1954 Sugar Bowl-winning team. “We worked with each other quite a bit. He was absolutely as tough as anybody I wrestled.?

“The thing about him was that he could go forever, his endurance was pretty incredible.?

While at the Naval Academy, Blair compiled a 57-5 record – he did not lose a match as a junior and senior – and won back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956.

Swartz, a 1990 inductee into the NWHOF called Blair “the greatest I ever coached.?

“He’s a true champion, capable of turning his nervous system off or on almost at will,? said Swartz in an article for All Hands in July of 1956. “Before a match, Pete will fool most people with his apparent disinterest. But when the match begins, he’s as crafty and dangerous as a stalking tiger. He’s a terrific competitor.?

Were it not for a growth spurt, Blair may have never made it to the mat.

At just 5-foot-6 as a high school senior at Granby High School, Blair was not part of Billy Martin’s first wrestling team in 1949 – Ed Eichelberger, also part of the Class of 2009, was Martin’s first star at Granby, winning three state titles.

Blair enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, and during his recruit training grew an amazing 6 inches. By the time his two years at Bainbridge Prep Academy were done that total was 7.5 inches.

“Martin started varsity wrestling at Granby when I was a senior,? said Blair in a 1978 story for the Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star. “He picked his team from an intramural tournament. When I got to Annapolis I told them I was from Granby and they thought I was already an established wrestler.?

In Blair’s final collegiate match he pinned Ken Leuer of the University of Iowa in the 1956 NCAA finals. Leuer would win the 1957 NCAA championship at 191.

“He was an individual who certainly understood what he was doing on the mat,? said Leuer, elected to the NWHOF as an Outstanding American in 2002. “He was well-conditioned and very strong. I remember that match very well because it was the last match I lost in college.?

“I also remember (Blair) as being a complete gentleman as well.?

Dan Muthler, a champion in 1973, is the only other Navy wrestler to win an NCAA title.

Blair’s post-college career was short, although very successful.
Soon after winning the 1956 NCAA title, Blair pinned five opponents in winning a National AAU title. Two weeks later he was the Olympic Trials champion at 192 pounds and would be elected team captain by his freestyle teammates.

In Melbourne at the 1956 Olympics, Blair would earn a bronze medal, finishing behind Iran’s Gholamreza Takhiti and the Soviet Union’s Boris Kulaev.

“It was a great honor to participate in the Olympics,? said Blair in 1978. “I won a bronze medal. I think I could have probably done better, but nervousness detracted from my efficiency. Four years later they invited me back, to try out for the Olympic team, but I rejected it.?

Academy graduates were expected to be officers in their respective fields. Unlike today, competitive careers in athletics were not the norm.

An officer in the Navy from 1955 until his retirement in 1974, Blair served on ships and submarines and taught at the Academy.

He returned to Annapolis in the summer of 1966 for a 3-year tour as an instructor in the Physics Department. He served as Officer Representative for the Midshipmen wrestling team coached by Ed Peery, a member of the Class of 1980’s Distinguished Members.

“The thing I remember about Pete Blair more than anything was the strength he had,? Peery said. “He had incredible hand strength. Danny Hodge got a lot more attention, but Pete was right there. He’d been off the mat for awhile when he came back (in 1966) but he still crushed everybody in the room.?

“As tough as Pete was as a wrestler, he was just a real salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.?

The son of Rear Admiral Leon N. Blair, Peter Steele Blair married his wife Margot in June of 1955. They have seven children – Barbara, Peter, Lynn, Sarah, Elaine, Mary and John.

December 14, 2008

Bigger, stronger and better: Tervel Dlagnev making plenty of noise in heavyweight division

Bigger, stronger and better: Tervel Dlagnev making plenty of noise in heavyweight division
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

Tervel Dlagnev's day usually starts with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast.

It ends with a small meal about an hour before bedtime.

In between, Dlagnev sits down for brunch, a big lunch, a snack and a big dinner. After his morning and afternoon workouts, he will consume a 300-calorie protein shake.

It's all part of his 6,000 calorie-a-day plan, coupled with strength work in the weight room, to become bigger, stronger and more competitive at his freestyle weight class of 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

The plan has worked to perfection so far for Dlagnev. Now about 25 pounds heavier than he was at June's U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the 260-pound Dlagnev's commitment to becoming bigger paid off late last month when he won the New York Althetic Club International (A Sports Club).

“My goal is to keep my weight right around 120 kilos and be as strong and as physical and as fast as I possibly can,? Dlagnev said. “I’m basically just trying to eat a lot, and keep it as healthy as I can. The added weight is going to really help me. I feel really good right now.?

Dlagnev, a 2008 World University champion who celebrated his 23rd birthday last month, upset 2008 U.S. Olympian Steve Mocco in the New York AC finals.

Since competing in the Olympics in August, Mocco had knocked off a past Olympic champion and Olympic bronze medalist to open the 2008-09 season.

"Mocco’s physical and intense, and I knew he was going to bring it,? Dlagnev said. “He’s very hard to score on. It was a big win for me. He placed seventh in the Olympics, and he’s a great wrestler. It’s a great confidence-builder. It’s early in the season, but it’s good to know I’m improving. I know I will obviously see him quite a bit more this season.?

For a guy who weighed in about 30 pounds under the maximum allowed for his weight class at the Olympic Trials, Dlagnev was facing numerous competitors who have to cut weight to make 120 kilos.

With international governing body FILA's one-point pushout rule, which was implemented in 2005, bigger wrestlers like Mocco have feasted on smaller heavyweights like Dlagnev.

“It is tough being 240 pounds, and getting pushed out of bounds by guys who are a lot bigger than me,? Dlagnev said. “I just wasn’t big enough in the past. I’m getting there now.?

At the New York AC International, Dlagnev did a better job holding his ground against Mocco. Dlagnev won the match, 1-1, 0-2, 2-1.

"My goal was to stay in there and not get pushed out, but I think Mocco still pushed me out of bounds four times in the match,? Dlagnev said. “Plus, he scored more points than I did overall. I can’t let that happen. He definitely exposed a lot of weaknesses. I still have a lot of work to do.?

The athletic Dlagnev thrives with an array of leg attacks, including a lethal low single that he took Mocco down with in New York.

“I’m 260 now, but I still feel like I have my speed and quickness and agility,? Dlagnev said. “I’m still looking to get stronger, but I need to be able to keep moving like I am now.?

Dlagnev, now helping as a club coach at the University of Northern Iowa, continues to raise his level of wrestling as he's now ranked No. 2 in the U.S. behind Mocco at 120 kilos. He is 1-1 in his career against Mocco.

The first time they wrestled, Mocco won 3-0, 3-0 at the 2007 U.S. Nationals.

“He got a couple of pushouts and a couple of go-behinds off my shots,? said Dlagnev, who competes for the Sunkist Kids. “He really put it on me.?

Dlagnev and Mocco trained together in Iowa just a few weeks before the New York AC meet. Mocco trains in Iowa City now, just down the road from where Dlagnev is in Cedar Falls.

The heavyweight class in the U.S. also may still include Tommy Rowlands, who placed fifth in the World in 2007 before falling to Mocco in the finals of the 2008 Olympic Trials. Rowlands is still weighing his options as far as continuing to compete.

Among the other top heavyweights competing are Les Sigman and Scott Steele. Sigman finished fifth at the Olympic Trials. Steele, who wrestles collegiately for Navy, was a surprising third-place finisher at the Olympic Trials.

Dlagnev was born in Bulgaria and moved to the U.S. when he was four years old. He did not start wrestling until his sophomore year of high school in Arlington, Texas. Third and fourth at the Texas state tournament, he drew virtually no interest from college recruiters.

One school that did notice was Nebraska-Kearney, an NCAA Division II school.

Dlagnev has been on a roll since winning his first Division II national title in March 2007. He followed the next month by placing fourth at the U.S. Nationals. In October 2007, he beat long-time college rival Sigman for the first time ever in the finals of the Sunkist Kids International Open.

Dlagnev followed by capping his college career with his second national title and led his team to its first NCAA crown in school history.

Dlagnev continued the momentum with a third-place finish at the 2008 U.S. Nationals, winning his last four matches after falling to Sigman in the quarterfinals. Dlagnev beat past World bronze medalist Tolly Thompson in the match for third place.

Dlagnev then failed to place at June's Olympic Trials. He went 1-2, falling to Steele and Pat Cummins after winning his first bout.

"For some reason, I wasn’t ready to wrestle hard at the Trials and my conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be,? he said. “There are no excuses. I didn’t wrestle in my strong positions. I just didn’t wrestle well.?

Dlagnev quickly regrouped to win the World University Championships in early July in Greece.

“It was great to have a chance to get back on the mat and rebound from the Trials,? he said. “I was fired up and ready to go for University Worlds. It was great to have some success against overseas competition.?

Dlagnev’s recent win over Mocco caught the attention of new U.S. National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones, who was in New York for the event.

“Tervel has really made nice progress,? Jones said. “His main strengths are his ability to wrestle in all positions. He’s multi-dimensional. He moves very well for a heavyweight. He moves as well as any heavyweight, which gives him an advantage. He is very good at attacking the legs.

“His potential is really high. He obviously has wrestling to learn. He needs to make progress in his mental preparation and he needs to continue to gain experience internationally.?

Dlagnev has competed just twice overseas. He wrestled at the World University Championships this past summer in Greece. This fall, he competed in an international event in Russia. He fell short of placing in that event.

He said his next event likely is the Dave Schultz Memorial International in early February in Colorado Springs.

Dlagnev said he didn’t get much sleep during the Olympic Games. Like many wrestling fans who were back home watching in the U.S., he stayed up late to watch many of the matches that were shown on television and on the Internet.

“I watched as many matches as I could,? he said. “I like watching everybody, from the little guys all the way up to the heavyweights. I was so excited and pumped up to watch the matches. It’s the first time I’ve really watched wrestling in the Olympics. In 2000, I hadn’t started to wrestle. In 2004, I didn’t really know a lot about international wrestling. Now, I pretty much know who all the guys are now so it was fun to watch. I studied a lot of the matches and I tried to learn things that might help me.?

Dlagnev’s favorite part of the Olympics wasn’t the wrestling.

“It was the Opening Ceremonies,? he said. “I loved the parade of countries and watching all the athletes walk into the stadium. When the U.S. team finally came in, I saw two of our wrestlers, Andy Hrovat and Spenser Mango, walking with all the athletes. That was really cool. It was so exciting. It would be so sweet to be part of that in 2012.?

For now, Dlagnev is shooting for a more immediate goal. Making the U.S. freestyle team for the 2009 World Championships, set for Sept. 21-27 in Herning, Denmark.

“My goal is to be on the 2009 World Team,? he said. “I want to be a World champ and win a gold medal, that’s the plan. I love wrestling, and I love the process of training and trying to continually get better. I still have so much to learn.?

December 13, 2008

UFC 92 Fight Card

UFC 92 Main card

* Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Flag of the United States Forrest Griffin vs. Flag of the United States Rashad Evans
* Interim Heavyweight Championship bout: Flag of Brazil Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Flag of the United States Frank Mir
* Light Heavyweight bout: Flag of the United States Quinton Jackson vs. Flag of Brazil Wanderlei Silva
* Middleweight bout: Flag of the United States C.B. Dollaway vs. Flag of the United States Mike Massenzio
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of France Cheick Kongo vs. Flag of the United Kingdom Mustafa Al Turk

Preliminary card

* Middleweight bout: Flag of Japan Yushin Okami vs. Flag of the United States Dean Lister
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of the Netherlands Antoni Hardonk vs. Flag of the United States Mark Burch
* Light Heavyweight bout: Flag of the United States Matt Hamill vs. Flag of the United States Reese Andy
* Welterweight bout: Flag of the United States Brad Blackburn vs. Flag of Japan Ryo Chonan
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of Norway Dan Evensen vs. Flag of the United States Patrick Barry

UFC 92

UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 is an upcoming mixed martial arts event to be held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The main event will feature UFC Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin taking on #1 contender Rashad Evans.

The co-main event will feature UFC interim Heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and the #1 heavyweight contender and former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir. The winner will face UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar for a unification bout in early 2009. The third main event will feature former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson against former PRIDE Champion Wanderlei Silva.