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The United States has now qualified 16-of-18 weight classes overall for the Olympic Games

By Craig Sesker KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The U.S. is drawing closer to sending a full 18-person squad to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

The U.S. qualified seven more wrestlers for the Olympics at the FILA Pan American Qualifying Tournament on March 23-25 at the Silver Spurs Arena. The U.S. has now qualified 16-of-18 weight classes overall for the Olympics, which are scheduled for Aug. 5-12. The U.S. will have two more events left - one in China and one in Finland - to try and qualify for the Olympics in Greco- Roman at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and in freestyle at 60 kg/132 lbs.

Here is a breakdown by style of how the U.S. team fared at the Pan Am Qualifier in Florida.


World champion Dremiel Byers led a group of five Americans who qualified their weight classes for the Olympics in this style. Byers swept Chile’s Andres Ayub

Valenzuela 2-0, 2-0 in the Pan Am Qualifier finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Byers, a 2008 Olympian, did not allow a point in the tournament.

“I came out and did what I had to do,” Byers said. “I didn’t try anything fancy. I just stuck to the basics and got it done.” Americans Spenser Mango, Ellis Coleman, Andrew Bisek and Chas Betts each finished second.

The top two finishers at each weight class qualified their countries for the 2012 Olympic Games, set for this August in London, England. There were no true second-place matches, so the two wrestlers that advanced to the finals qual- ified their countries for the Olympics. Betts, a past World Team member, fin- ished second after dropping a 1-0, 3-0 decision to Cuba’s Pablo Shorey Hernandez in the finals at 84 kg/185 lbs. Bisek, a 2011 World Team member, fin-

14 USA Wrestler

Brent Metcalf qualified the U.S. for the Olympics in freestyle at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Metcalf finished second at the Pan American Qualifier. Larry Slater photo.

“I came out and did what I had to do. I didn’t try anything fancy. I just stuck to the basics and got it done.” - Dremiel Byers U.S. heavyweight

ished second after falling to Cuba’s Jorgisbell Alvarez Hernandez 3-0, 1-0 in the finals at 74 kg/163 lbs. Coleman, a two-time Junior World bronze medalist, finished second after dropping a 4-0, 1-0 decision to Cuba’s Hanser Meoque Lugones in the finals at 60 kg/132 lbs.

Mango, a 2008 Olympian, finished sec- ond in the round-robin format at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Mango won his first two matches to qualify his weight for the Olympics. Cuba’s Javier Gonzalez then edged Mango 1-0, 1-0 in the final match of the round robin.

American Justin Ruiz, a past World bronze medalist, dropped a tough semifi- nal match to veteran Yunior Estrada of

Cuba at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Estrada won 2- 0, 1-0. The U.S. fell short of qualifying for the Olympics in that division. "I have mixed thoughts," U.S. Coach

Steve Fraser said. "We are happy we got five weights qualified for the Olympic Games. Very happy. But it's hard to lose in the finals to Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, Cuba. That makes it hard. We need to learn from this."

Ruiz came back to sweep Colombia’s

Raul Andres Angulo 1-0, 6-0 in the bronze-medal match.

The U.S. has now qualified for the Olympics in six of the seven Greco- Roman weight classes.

American Justin Lester qualified the U.S. for the Olympics at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. after placing fifth at the 2011 World Championships. Two more Olympic Games qualifiers remain.

The first will be in Taiyuan, China on April 27-29 and the second in Helsinki, Finland on May 4-6.


American Brent Metcalf finished sec- ond, but he qualified the U.S. for the Olympic Games in freestyle wrestling at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. with his top-two finish.

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