VIDEO: Elena Pirozhkova vs. Erin Clodgo, 2014 U.S. Open finals at 63 kg
U.S. World Team Trials women’s freestyle preview at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
2012 World champion and three-time World medalist Elena Pirozhkova has been the top star in this weight class for many years. She won her sixth straight U.S. Open title in Las Vegas, and was dominant in her bouts. A 2008 Olympian, Pirozkhova has also competed at 67 kg this season, but may have her best chance to win another World title at this weight class. She has confidence, experience, talent and considerable success, and is still driven by a desire to return to the Olympics and bring home a medal.
The U.S. Open runner-up was longtime rival Erin Clodgo, who has emerged ahead of the other contenders in this class. Clodgo, a former U.S. Open champion, won the 2014 University Nationals title and has extensive international experience. What she hasn’t solved is how to beat Pirozkhova, and will need to beat the other contenders once again if she wants another chance to face Pirozkhkova in Madison.
Leigh Jaynes, a two-time World Team member, missed last year for the birth of her first child with her husband, Olympian Ben Provisor. Jaynes is back on the mat and took third at the U.S. Open at 63 kg. Although Jaynes often wrestled at a lower weight in previous years, she seems focused on competing here this year. She had past success in this division, placing third in the 2012 Olympic Trials at 63 kg.
Amanda Hendey, who was second at the U.S. Open while still in high school, was sixth in the Open this year, dropping her wrestlebacks by forfeit after losing in the semifinals to Clodgo. Hendey was the 2014 University Nationals champion at this weight, beating Shai Mason in the finals, and was second at the 2014 WCWA Women’s College Nationals, losing to talented Tamyra Mensah in the finals. Mensah, who qualified for the World Team Trials at 69 kg by taking third and was also second at the University Nationals at that weight, is capable of getting down to this division and becomes an immediate factor if she enters here.
Young stars Olivia Seppinni and Shai Mason placed fourth and fifth respectively at the U.S. Open. Mason was second at the 2014 University Nationals, and also second at the 2014 WCWA Women’s College Nationals, strong efforts which indicate continued improvement. Seppinni recently placed second in the FILA Junior Nationals, losing to high school star Alexis Porter in the finals. Porter is not a qualifier for World Team Trials, however.
The U.S. Open finalists at 60 kg, champion Jennifer Page and runner-up Jenna Burkert, could enter at this weight, or they could drop to 58 kg, or they could skip the World Team Trials entirely to focus on making the team at the non-Olympic Trials in July. Of the two, Page has had the most success up at 63 kg if she chooses to wrestle here, as a past national team member there.
Two-time World Team member Deanna Betterman was seventh at the U.S. Open, qualifying her for the World Team Trials. Veteran Lauren Louive earned her spot in the Trials with a Northern Plains Regional title. Qualifying with a third place finish at the WCWA Women’s college nationals is Wayland Baptist’s Samantha Villegas. OTC resident athlete Kennon Henderson made the field with a bronze medal at the Grand Prix of Paris.
Elena Pirozhkova has made every U.S. World Team since 2008, as well as her 2012 Olympic team berth. She has proven to be very consistent at this weight class, and will be the heavy favorite to win until somebody steps up and knocks her off the podium.
2014 U.S. Open women’s results at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
1st - Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Erin Clodgo, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 3-0
3rd - Leigh Jaynes, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army (WCAP) tech. fall Olivia Seppinni, Sacramento, Calif. (Bearcat WC), 12-1
5th - Shai Mason, Gardena, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC) won by forfeit over Amanda Hendey, San Gabriel, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC/King Univ)
7th - Deanna Betterman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids WC) tech. fall Michele Muscato, Henderson, Nevada (Henderson),14-1
2014 U.S. World Team Trials qualifiers at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Final Wrestle-off Qualifier
2014 U.S. Open champion - Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC)
Trials Tournament Qualifiers
2014 U.S. Open second place – Erin Clodgo, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
2014 U.S. Open third place – Leigh Jaynes, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army (WCAP)
2014 U.S. Open fourth place – Olivia Seppinni, Sacramento, Calif. (Bearcat WC)
2014 U.S. Open fifth place – Shai Mason, Gardena, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
2014 U.S. Open sixth place – Amanda Hendey, San Gabriel, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC/King Univ)
2014 U.S. Open seventh place – Deanna Betterman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids WC)
2014 WCWA Nationals third place, 136– Samantha Villegas, Hereford, Texas (Wayland Baptist Univ)
2014 Northern Plains Senior Regionals champion – Lauren Louivie, Williamsburg, Ky. (Univ of the Cumberlands)
2014 Grand Prix of Paris, third place - Kennon Henderson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (OTC)