Henson Lawal win Uzbekistan Golden Grand Prix titles as five U S freestyle wrestlers win medals

By Gary Abbott | March 12, 2006, 1:30 p.m. (ET)
The U.S. men's freestyle team had a strong effort on the first day of the Uzbekistan Independence Cup Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, March 11, winning five medals in the four weight classes contested. This is one of the FILA Golden Grand Prix events, where prize money is awarded based upon placement.

Winning gold medals for the United States were Sammie Henson (Flintstone, Ga./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Mo Lawal (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 84 kg/185 lbs. Both defeated the reigning World champions in their weight classes in the gold-medal finals.

"Lawal beat three past medalists. Henson beat a two-time World champion. We won five medals. I am looking forward to the next day," said National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson.

Henson opened the tournament by beating a fierce rival, 2000 Olympic champion Namik Abduallaev of Uzbekistan, 1-2, 2-1, 5-1. Abduallaev beat Henson in the gold-medal match at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Henson won his next two matches to qualify for the finals, stopping Alymbaev Altynbek of Kazakhstan, then beating 1999 World silver medalist Adham Achilov of Uzbekistan, 6-0, 1-0. In the gold-medal finals, Henson beat 2003 and 2005 World champion Dilshod Mansurov of Uzbekistan, 0-1, 1-0, 6-0.

Henson was a 1998 World champion and 2000 Olympic silver medalist. He was a member of the 2005 U.S. World team.

Lawal won three matches, all against high-quality opponents. In the first match, Lawal beat 2003 World silver medalist Mourad Gaidarov of Belarus, 1-0, 2-0. His semifinal victory was against 2005 World bronze medalist Taras Danko of Ukraine, 1-1, 1-0, 1-0. In the gold-medal finals, he defeated 2005 World champion Revas Mindorishvili of Georgia, 1-0, 1-0.

Winning a silver medal for the United States was three-time U.S. World team member Chris Bono (Ringgold, Ga./Sunkist Kids). Bono won his first three matches of the day, stopping Kohei Fujimoto of Japan, 1-0, 2-0, Muradollo Ablokulov of Uzbekistan, 2-4, 1-0, 2-0 and Jirair Oganesyan of Russia, 1-1, 5-4.

In the championship finals, Bono lost to 2005 Junior European champion Andrey Sementsov of Russia, 0-1, 2-1, 1-1. Sementsov took down Bono with 14 seconds left in the final period, to win the match.

Claiming bronze medals were Jared Lawrence (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and 2005 World bronze medalist Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Lawrence opened up with a loss to eventual champion Andrey Sementsov of Russia, 1-1, 0-1. When Sementsov made the finals, Lawrence was drawn back into the wrestlebacks, where he won three straight matches to capture the bronze. He opened with a victory over Elman Asgarov of Azerbaijan, 6-0, 2-0 then beat Ruslan Kuliev of Kazakhstan, 2-0, 6-0. In the bronze medal match, Lawrence stopped Arslan Khutaliev of Uzbekistan, 0-1, 1-0, 2-0.

Thompson also lost his first match, falling to Alex Modebadze of Georgia, 6-0, 1-1, 0-1. When Modebadze made the finals, Thompson was brought back into the wrestlebacks. He pinned Magomed Bugunov of Kyrgyzstan in 3:05 to reach the bronze-medal bout, where he beat Marid Mutalimov of Kazakhstan, 3-0, 2-1. Mutalimov was fourth in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Three U.S. wrestlers will see action on Sunday: 2005 U.S. World team member Michael Lightner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Mike Zadick, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye TC) both at 60 kg/132 lbs., plus two-time World bronze medalist Joe Williams (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 74 kg/163 lbs

One U.S. wrestler missed weight and will not compete on Sunday, 2004 Olympian Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

At Tashkent, Uzbekistan, March 11

U.S. performances

55 kg/121 lbs. - Sammie Henson, Flintstone, Ga. (Sunkist Kids), 1st
WIN Namik Abdullaev (Azerbaijan), 1-2, 2-1, 5-1
WIN Alymbaev Altynbek (Kazakhstan)
WIN Adham Achilov (Uzbekistan), 6-0, 1-0
WIN Dilshod Mansurov (Uzbekistan), 0-1, 1-0, 6-0

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Chris Bono, Ringgold, Ga. (Sunkist Kids), 2nd
WIN Kohei Fujimoto (Japan), 1-0, 2-0
WIN Muradollo Ablokulov (Uzbekistan), 2-4, 1-0, 2-0
WIN Jirair Oganesyan (Russia), 1-1, 5-4
LOSS Andrey Sementsov (Russia), 0-1, 2-1, 1-1

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Jared Lawrence, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 3rd
LOSS Andrey Sementsov (Russia), 1-1, 0-1
WIN Elman Asgarov (Azerbaijan), 6-0, 2-0
WIN Ruslan Kuliev (Kazakhstan), 2-0, 6-0
WIN Arslan Khutaliev (Uzbekistan), 0-1, 1-0, 2-0

84 kg/185 lbs. - Mo Lawal, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC), 1st
WIN Mourad Gaidarov (Belarus), 1-0, 2-0
WIN Taras Danko (Ukraine), 1-1, 1-0, 1-0
WIN Revas Mindorishvili (Georgia), 1-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs. - Andy Hrovat, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC), dnp
LOSS Zarek Sokhiev (Uzbekistan), 0-3, 1-2

120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Sunkist Kids), 3rd
LOSS Alex Modebadze (Georgia), 6-0, 1-1, 0-1
WIN Magomed Bugunov (Kyrgyzstan), pin 3:05
WIN Marid Mutalimov (Kazakhstan), 3-0, 2-1

120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Tommy Rowlands, Colunbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids), dnp
LOSS Eldar Kurtanidze (Georgia), 1-0, 1-0

U.S. athletes on Sunday, March 12

60 kg/132 lbs. - Michael Lightner, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
vs. opponent from Georgia

60 kg/132 lbs. - Mike Zadick, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye TC
vs. opponent from Kyrgyzstan

74 kg/163 lbs. - Joe Williams, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
vs. opponent from Azerbaijan

96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Daniel Cormier, Stillwater, Okla. (Gator WC)
did not make weight