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USA Wrestling

1979 U.S. Freestyle World Team to be honored at World Team Trials in Madison, Wis., May 31-June 1

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | May 21, 2014, 1:41 p.m. (ET)
As part of the festivities alongside the U.S. World Team Trials for men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling, USA Wrestling will honor the successful 1979 U.S. Freestyle World Team.

The competition will be held at the Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., May 31-June Madison, Wis., May 31-June 1.

The celebration will mark the 35th anniversary of the team’s outstanding performance at the 1979 World Championships in San Diego, California.

The USA team placed second at the 1979 World Championships in freestyle with seven medalists and an individual champion. Many of the members of this World Team were among the top freestyle wrestlers in American history.

Claiming a gold medal for the United States was Lee Kemp, who competed at 74 kg/163 lbs. It was his second consecutive career World title, after winning the 1978 World gold medal. Kemp went on to add a third World title to his resume in 1982 and make the 1980 Olympic team.

Four U.S. athletes won silver medals at the 1979 World meet, Bobby Weaver at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Jim Haines at 52 kg/114.5 lbs., John Peterson at 82 kg/180.5 lbs. and Russ Hellickson at 100 kg/220 lbs.

The team also had two bronze medalists, Joe Corso at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. and Andre Metzger at 62 kg/136.5 lbs.

Rounding out the team were Chuck Yagla at 68 kg/149.5 lbs. Laurent Soucie at 90 kg/198 lbs. and Dave Klemm at heavyweight.

In total, this World Team featured seven Olympians who earned 10 Olympic berths. Hellickson, Weaver and Peterson made two Olympic teams, while Haines, Corso, Yagla and Kemp were also Olympians.

John Peterson won an Olympic gold medal in 1972 and an Olympic bronze medal in 1976. Bobby Weaver won a 1984 Olympic gold medal. Russ Hellickson won a 1976 Olympic silver medal.

Coaching the team was the legendary Dan Gable, who was an Olympic and World champion as an athlete, and went on to coach numerous U.S. World and Olympic Teams. Gable is also considered the most successful college coach in history while leading the University of Iowa to 15 NCAA Div. I team championships.

This team holds special interest to wrestling fans in Wisconsin. Haines, Kemp, Soucie and Hellickson were all star athletes for the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Peterson attended the Univ. of Wisconsin – Stout.

At least seven team members are expected to attend in person (Haines, Yagla, Kemp, Peterson, Soucie, Hellickson and Klemm), as well as coach Dan Gable.

On Saturday evening, May 31st, between the first and second matches in the championship series, USA Wrestling will bring all of the past World and Olympic Team Members to the mat. A special moment will take place as the 1979 World Team is highlighted.

Fans will be able to get up close and personal with the members of the 1979 World Team as an autograph session will be staged at the conclusion of the final matches Saturday night.

Team videographer Donn Ernst will provide footage from this outstanding World Team which will be shown during the competition.

The U.S. World Team Trials will feature the top men’s and women’s freestyle wrestlers in the nation. The event will determine men’s and women’s freestyle athletes who will compete at the 2014 World Wrestling Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, September 8-14, as well as the U.S. national teams for the 2014-15 campaign in men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle.

Tickets are still available for this event through Ticketmaster at You can go directly to the U.S. World Team Trials ticket location on Ticketmaster by clicking here.

In addition, on Friday, May 30, the FILA Junior World Team Trials for men in both freestyle and Greco-Roman will also be held in Madison, Wis. at the Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center.

1979 U.S. Freestyle World Team
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Bobby Weaver, 2nd place
52 kg/114.5 lbs. - James Haines 2nd place
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Joe Corso 3rd place
62 kg/136.5 lbs. – Andre Metzger, 3rd place
68 kg/149.5 lbs. – Chuck Yagla, dnp
74 kg/163 lbs. – Lee Kemp, 1st place
82 kg/180.5 lbs. – John Peterson, 2nd place
90 kg/198 lbs. – Laurent Soucie, 6th place
100 kg/220 lbs. – Russ Hellickson, 2nd place
Heavyweight – David Klemm, dnp
Head Coach: Dan Gable
Videographer: Donn Ernst

at Madison, Wis., May 31 - June 1

Men’s Freestyle: 57 KG, 97 KG, and 125 KG
Women’s Freestyle: 48 KG, 58 KG and 69 KG

10:00 am – Session I - Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Challenge Finals/Consolations and Third Place, Challenge Tournament finals
6:00 pm – Session II – Final World Team Trials and True Second Place Matches

Men’s Freestyle: 65 KG, 74 KG and 86 KG
Women’s Freestyle: 53 KG, 63 KG and 75 KG

10:00 am - Session I - Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Challenge Finals/Consolations and Third Place, Challenge Tournament finals
6:00 p.n. - Session II – Final World Team Trials and True Second Place Matches