U.S. World Team Trials women’s freestyle preview at 69 kg/152 lbs.

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | May 25, 2014, 3:16 p.m. (ET)
VIDEO: Randi Miller vs. Veronica Carlson, 2014 U.S. Open finals at 69 kg

2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller took five years off from the mat before making her competition comeback at the start of this season. Miller has been impressive, showing little rust from her time away. Among her big wins is a victory over World champion Elena Pirozhkova of the USA in the Dave Schultz finals, and a win over reigning World champion Alina Makhinya of Ukraine at the Beat the Streets dual. She also reclaimed the national title with a solid victory over 2013 World Team member Veronica Carlson in Las Vegas. Miller is very difficult to score on, and if she gets her offense going, she can win against anybody.

Carlson had her best season last year, moving up to 68 kg after a number of years on the national team at 63 kg. She has a hard-nosed, aggressive approach to her wrestling, and is both physically and mentally tough. A former Junior World silver medalist, Carlson has won a number of international medals and brings maturity and focus to the mat. She would like another shot at Miller in Madison, but needs to beat the rest of the field to get that chance.

Placing third at the Open was WCWA College national champion Tamyra Mensah, a talented wrestler with a tremendous upside on the international level. Mensah was second behind Erin Clodgo at the University Nationals at 69 kg. She has the ability to get down to 63 kg, but if she stays up at this weight, she is still expected to do very well.

Another college star in the field is Brittany David, who was fourth at the U.S. Open the last few years. David was third at the WCWA Women’s College nationals this year, and has a wealth of experience in USA Wrestling’s age-group levels. Another college star to watch is Kayla Aggio, who was second at the WCWA Nationals and won the title at the FILA Junior Nationals last weekend. Aggio did not compete in Vegas, but she is capable of winning matches at the World Team Trials and becoming a challenger.

The rest of the athletes who qualified for the Trials by placing in the top seven at the U.S. Open also come from the college ranks, Demi Strub at fifth, Amy Spafford at sixth and Deangela Castex at seventh. Forrest Molinari, who was third at the WCWA College Nationals, also gets a berth in the field in Madison. Rounding out the weight class qualifiers is Crissta Hartinger, the Northern Plains Regional champion.

Some wrestlers who competed at 75 kg in Las Vegas have been down to 69 kg in the past, including U.S. Open champion Jackie Cataline and third-place finisher Julia Salata. Both of these wrestlers might have a better chance of making the team at the higher weight. Cataline is already in the best-of-three series there. It’s possible Salata may drop down if she thinks that increases her chances at success.

Randi Miller has talked about going back to 63 kg during this Olympic cycle, which is where she won her Olympic bronze medal. However, she is not expected to be there this year, and has wrestled very well at 69 kg so far. Veronica Carlson has proven the ability to beat the other opponents in the weight class, and is hoping to get a chance at Miller in a two-of-three series. It would be a considered an upset if somebody else emerged to face Miller for the title.

2014 U.S. Open women’s results at 69 kg /152 lbs.
1st - Randi Miller, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP) dec. Veronica Carlson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC/USOEC), 3-1
3rd - Tamyra Mensah, Katy, Texas (Wayland Baptist) tech. fall Brittany David, Brentwood, Calif. (Lindenwood Women`s WC), 12-1
5th - Demi Strub, Oklahoma City, Okla (OKCU Gator Women`s RTC) dec. Amy Spafford, St. Charles, Mo. (Lindenwood Women`s WC), 14-9
7th - DeAngela Castex, Elk Grove, Calif. (Univ. of the Cumberlands) won by forfeit over Angelica Hernandez, El Paso, Texas (Univ. of the Cumberlands)

2014 U.S. World Team Trials qualifiers at 69 kg/152 lbs.
Final Wrestle-off Qualifier

2014 U.S. Open champion - Randi Miller, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP)
Trials Tournament Qualifiers
2014 U.S. Open second place – Veronica Carlson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC)
2014 U.S. Open third place – Tamyra Mensah, Katy, Texas (Wayland Baptist)
2014 U.S. Open fourth place – Brittany David, Brentwood, Calif. (Lindenwood Women`s WC)
2014 U.S. Open fifth place – Demi Strub, Oklahoma City, Okla (OKCU Gator Women`s RTC)
2014 U.S. Open sixth place – Amy Spafford, Camarillo, Calif. (Lindenwood Women`s WC)
2014 U.S. Open seventh place – DeAngela Castex, Elk Grove, Calif. (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
2014 WCWA Nationals third place, 143 – Forrest Molinari, Benicia, Calif. (Missouri Baptist Univ)
2014 WCWA Nationals second place, 155 – Kayla Aggio, Rohnert Park, Calif. (Oklahoma City Univ)
2014 Northern Plains Senior Regionals champion – Cristta Hartinger, Buffalo, N.Y. (MWC Wrestling Academy)