Pendleton named Outstanding Wrestler at Sunkist Kids International in men’s freestyle
PHOENIX, Ariz. - For the fans in the arena, the finals match at 84 kg/185 lbs. was featured bout of the day at the Sunkist Kids International Open in men's freestyle. For Chris Pendleton, it was just another step forward in the revival of his wrestling career.
Pendleton (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) faced an old college rival when he defeated 2008 Olympian Ben Askren (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) for the gold medal, 2-1, 1-1.
In the first period, Pendleton was able to turn Askren after scoring a takedown. In the second period, Pendleton scored the winning point in the second period on a pushout. Pendleton was named Outstanding Wrestler in the tournament.
"He's a hard competitor," said Pendleton. "We know each other so well. It was a boring match. To beat this guy, you have to pick your battles. I was thinking, I'm not going to lose this match. I have to find a way."
Pendleton, who wrestled for Oklahoma State, defeated Askren, from the Univ. of Missouri, in the NCAA finals two times (2005, 2006). They have not competed in freestyle because they were in different weight classes.
"Last year, I basically took the whole year off. I felt I was done. Getting to wrestle the young kids on our team (at Oklahoma State) got me motivated again," said Pendleton.
It was Askren's second competition of the weekend, after claiming the No-Gi gold medal at the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials on Friday.
In his return to freestyle wrestling, Sam Hazewinkel (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) defeated battle 2009 U.S. Nationals runner-up Obe Blanc (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) in the championship finals, 0-1, 1-1, 1-0.
Hazewinkel concentrated on Greco-Roman for the last two Olympic cycles, and was runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He has won two U.S. National Greco-Roman titles. Hazewinkel has returned to Norman, Okla., where he went to college at Oklahoma, and is training under World champion and Olympic medalist Sammie Henson there.
Coming back to competition after missing last year's key events from injury was the champion at 60 kg/132 lbs., Nate Gallick (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids). He defeated 2008 U.S. Nationals runner-up Coleman Scott (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) in the finals, 4-1, 1-0. Gallick was a 2007 U.S. Nationals champion and a 2005 University World champion.
In a battle of former stars at the Univ. of Oklahoma, Jared Frayer (Madison, Wis./Gator WC) defeated Teyon Ware (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) in the finals at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., 1-0, 2-1. Both are training in new locations, with Frayer at the Univ. of Wisconsin and Ware at Penn State. Frayer was second at the 2009 U.S. World Team Trials at this weight class.
Aaron Anspach (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), a 2007 NCAA runner-up for Penn State, made his return to freestyle with a victory at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., defeating former Div. III national champion Blake Gillis (unattached) in the finals, 1-1, 2-1, 1-1.
Other individual champions were Michael Poeta (Naperville, Ill./Lehigh Valley Athletic Club) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Arturo Basulto (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Meathead WC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Poeta, who graduated from the Univ. of Illinois last year, defeated Iowa State wrestler Jon Reader (Davison, Mich./Sunkist Kids), 1-0, 2-1 in the finals.
Basulto, a former wrestler for Cal Poly, won a five-athlete roundrobin with a perfect 4-0 record.
The Outstanding Foreign wrestler for the three-day tournament was Gen Haley of Canada, the 51 kg/112.25 lbs. champion in women's freestyle. Haley beat 2008 Olympic champion Carol Huyhn of Canada in the finals on Saturday.