Jacobson vs Ripley is the new Bout of the Week on USA Wrestling Members Only website

By Gary Abbott | May 22, 2006, 9:35 a.m. (ET)
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .

The feature this week is Sharon Jacobson vs. Malinda Ripley match at 55 kg/121 lbs. at the 2006 U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in women's freestyle wrestling.

There are times when the U.S. Nationals is the coming-out party for a young athlete who is making their name on the Senior level. Winning a first U.S. Nationals title is a tremendous achievement, and getting that first gold medal is often a major hurdle in a career.

Coming into this year, the 55 kg/121 lbs. division in women's wrestling featured two prominent wrestlers, two-time World silver medalist Tina George of the U.S. Army and World University champion Marcie Van Dusen of the Sunkist Kids. Van Dusen was having a great winter season, including a win over George, but was injured and unable to compete the rest of the season. George entered the U.S. Nationals as a strong favorite to win.

Getting the No. 2 seed behind George in the championship was Sharon Jacobson of the Gator WC, among the women wrestlers who are part of the USOEC program at the Univ. of Northern Michigan.

Jacobson went to high school in California, and started her college career on the women's team at the Univ. of Minnesota-Morris. She started to place at a number of age-group women's events while at UM-Morris, and making a name on the Senior level. The sport of wrestling was dropped at the college, and Jacobson found her way to the new women's university program at Northern Michigan.

Jacobson had a solid 2005 season, placing third at the U.S. Nationals and fifth at the World Team Trials. She also started doing well at many international events, taking medals at the Sunkist Kids International, the New York AC Holiday International and the Medved International in Belarus.

One of the athletes who did not receive a seed at this division was two-time U.S. Nationals champion Malinda Ripley of the Sunkist Kids. The reason? Ripley had never competed at the 121-pound division at the U.S. Nationals, and was actually seeded at No. 3 at 112.25 pounds prior to the event this year. When Ripley chose to move up in weight, she went into the mix without a seed, even though everybody knew she had both experience and talent.

Ripley first made her mark on the Senior level while still a high school wrestler in California, placing seventh at the U.S. Nationals and fifth in the World Team Trials as a senior. She also won a Junior Nationals title that season, making her a top prospect on the national scene.

Based upon her achievements and potential, Ripley became a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete and quickly moved up in the standings. In both 2003 and 2004, Ripley won U.S. Nationals titles at 51 kg/112.25 pounds. She has not able to make a U.S. World Team, however, placing second in the World Team Trials in 2003 and third in 2005.

In Las Vegas, the weight class became open for grabs quickly, when top seeded George was upset in the opening round of the U.S. Nationals, losing by fall to Leigh Jaynes in the first round.

In the second round, Ripley defeated Jaynes in a close 0-1, 2-0, 1-0 match. Ripley then scored a pin in the quarterfinals over Clarissa Calibuso of Missouri Valley in the second period, and defeated No. 4 seed Amy Borgnini of the USOEC 1-0, 3-0 in the semifinals.

On the other side, Jacobson stormed through the field. Her first win was a 7-0, 7-1 technical fall over Teresa Ayala of Pacific Univ. In the quarterfinals, she pinned Sharlee Solis of Missouri Valley in the first period. Her semifinal victory was another pin, stopping Tina Pihl of Team Dream in the second period.

The Jacobson vs. Ripley matchup was quite intriguing, with an experienced former champion in a new weight class facing a rising young star. Jacobson won the first period 3-0, then turned Ripley and scored a pin in 47 seconds in the second period.

Jacobson became the first USOEC women's wrestler to win a U.S. Senior Nationals title with her triumph. She was also named Outstanding Wrestler in the competition based upon her dominance in the tournament.

The Women's World Team Trials are set for June 30 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Jacobson will enter as the athlete to beat for the first time in her young career. It will be interesting to see if her progress continues with a U.S. World team berth at stake.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history.

Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page is the Jacob Clark vs. Brad Vering match at 84 kg/185 pounds at the 2006 U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in men's Greco-Roman wrestling. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.