From Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
Nine Olympic Trials champs to compete in Olympics World Qualifying Tournament in Mongolia, April 22-24
Nine champions from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling will compete in the 1st Olympic Games World Qualifying Tournament, set for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 22-24.
These athletes will be attempting to qualify their weight class and themselves for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There will be four U.S. women freestyle wrestlers, three Greco-Roman wrestlers and two men’s freestyle wrestlers in this important competition.
So far, there have been two stages of Olympic Qualification. In these phases, the United States qualified for the Rio Olympic Games in nine weight classes, but did not qualify in nine other weight classes. The U.S. wrestlers who won the Olympic Trials in the nine non-qualified weight classes will be wrestling in Mongolia. The U.S. delegations in all three styles have already traveled to Ulaanbaatar to prepare for the tournament.
The top three men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman placewinners in Mongolia qualify their nations to compete at the Olympic Games, while the top two women freestyle placewinners in each weight qualify their nation for the Olympics. Nations may only enter athletes in this tournaments in weight classes which they have not already qualified for Rio.
Greco-Roman will be contested on Friday, April 22, women’s freestyle on Saturday, April 23 and men’s freestyle on Sunday, April 24.
On Friday, the U.S. will be represented in Greco-Roman by U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions Jesse Thielke (Germantown, Wis./New York AC/OTC) at 59 kg/130 lbs., RaVaughn Perkins (Omaha, Neb./New York AC/OTC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Joe Rau (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 98 kg/215 lbs.
Thielke, who wrestled at the Univ. of Wisconsin, was a member of the 2013 U.S. World Team, while Rau, an NCAA Div. III champion for Elmhurst College, was on the 2014 U.S. World Team. Perkins is a 2014 U.S. Open champion.
On Saturday, the four women competing are U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions Haley Augello (Lockport, Ill./New York AC/OTC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Helen Maroulis (Huntington Beach, Calif./Sunkist Kids) at 53 kg/116.5 lbs., Kelsey Campbell (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) at 58 kg/128 lbs. and Tamyra Mensah (Katy, Texas/Titan Mercury WC/OTC) at 69 kg/152 lbs.
Maroulis was a 2012 World champion and is a three-time World medalist. Campbell was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and competed in the 2010 and 2011 World Championships. Augello was a 2011 Cadet World champion and is on her first Senior U.S. team. Mensah is also on her first Senior U.S. World-level team. All four are past women’s college national champions, with Augello at King Univ., Maroulis at Simon Fraser, Campbell at Arizona State and Mensah at Wayland Baptist. Maroulis won four WCWA college national titles.
On Sunday, competing for the USA in men’s freestyle are U.S. Olympic Team Trials champions Frank Molinaro (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) at 65 kg/143 lbs. and J’Den Cox (Columbia, Mo./Missouri Wrestling Federation) at 86 kg/189 lbs. Both were seeded ninth at the Olympic Trials, and both qualified for their first U.S. Senior-level team with outstanding performances. Molinaro was an NCAA champion for Penn State, while Cox, a junior at Missouri this year, is a two-time NCAA champion.
If any of the nine U.S. entries fall short of the qualifying standards, there will be only one more chance to earn a spot in the Rio Olympic Games, the 2nd Olympic Games World Qualifying Tournament set for Istanbul, Turkey, May 6-8.
United World Wrestling is expected to have a live web stream of the competition from Ulaanbaatar, and also live results on their website, UnitedWorldWrestling.org. Please note that Ulaanbaatar is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone. TheMat.com and all of USA Wrestling’s social media platforms will also provide extensive coverage.
In wrestling, nations must qualify participants to compete in the Olympic Games, as the size of the field is restricted. There will be 19 wrestlers in each weight class in the men’s disciplines, and 18 wrestlers in each weight class in the women’s disciplines. There could be some additional athletes included in the field from the host nation Brazil and through the Tripartite Commission invitation process. In total, there will be 344 wrestlers competing in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Phase One was the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nev., where the top six athletes in each of the 18 Olympic weight classes qualified their nation for the Olympic Games. Phase Two were the continental Olympic Games Qualifiers (Europe, Asia, Pan American, Africa/Oceania). The 2016 Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier was held in Frisco, Texas, March 4-6, as the top two athletes in each of the 18 Olympic weight classes qualified their nation for the Olympic Games. All of the continental qualifiers have now been completed.
The United States has qualified complete Olympic Teams in wrestling for every Olympics since qualification was instituted in 1996, except for 2008 in Beijing, China, when it did not qualify at 74 kg in Greco-Roman and for 2012 in London, England, when it did not qualify at 60 kg in Greco-Roman.
1st OLYMPIC GAMES WORLD QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
At Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 22-24.
U.S. Greco-Roman roster (competes April 22)
59 kg/130 lbs. – Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (New York AC/OTC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (New York AC/OTC)
98 kg/215 lbs. – Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
National Greco-Roman Coach – Matt Lindland, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Assistant National Greco-Roman Coach – Momir Petkovic, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Referee – Casey Goessl, Osceola, Wis.
Medical – Dr. Kenneth Lane, Highland, Calif.
Medical – Rod Rodriguez, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Message Therapist – Cyrus Portier, Berkeley, Calif.
Nutritionist – Rob Skinner, Colorado Springs, Colo.
USA Wrestling Executive Director – Rich Bender, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Team Manager – Cody Bickley, Colorado Springs, Colo.
(times are in Ulaan Bataar, which is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone)
Friday, April 22
Greco-Roman (59 kg, 66 kg, 75 kg, 85 kg, 98 kg, 130 kg)
U.S. contestants: Jesse Thielke (59kg), RaVaughn Perkins (66kg), Joe Rau (98 kg)
9:00 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
5:30 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
6:00 p.m. – Finals and Award Ceremonies