MESA, Ariz. – Henry Cejudo knows he is still a long way from where he needs to be to repeat as Olympic wrestling champion.

But Sunday was a positive step in the right direction for the 2008 Olympic gold medalist.

Cejudo’s long-awaited returned to competition finally happened when he captured a championship at the Sunkist Kids International Open on Sunday night at Skyline High School.

Competing in a tournament for the first time since winning the Olympics in August 2008 in Beijing, China, Cejudo downed 2009 World Team member and fellow Phoenix native Danny Felix to win the men’s freestyle title at 55 kg/121 lbs.

"I give myself a C or D," he said. "That's not me out there. I had a hard weight cut. I had to be extremely conservative with my energy and really be smart with what I did. Every time I did focus in on something I got it. It feels good obviously to win, but my ultimate goal is the 2012 Olympics. You will be seeing a lot more of me, I promise you."

The 24-year-old Cejudo downed the 37-year-old Felix 1-0, 1-0 in the finals. Cejudo fired in on a beautifully executed inside trip to score the winning takedown with five seconds left in the second period.

The first period was scoreless after two minutes before Cejudo won a ball draw and finished in the leg clinch to win the period.

"Danny is dangerous," Cejudo said. "People don't understand how strong he is. He holds good position out there. He's hard to move and he's hard to score on. His body is just like a rock."

Cejudo won a pair of Arizona state high school titles before moving to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs prior to his junior year in high school.

Cejudo won four matches en route to the title on Sunday. He swept all four opponents in two periods.

Cejudo appeared to wrestle better as the day went on. He opened with a 1-0, 1-0 win over past NCAA All-American Ben Kjar. Both periods were scoreless after two minutes before Cejudo won ball draws and finished in the leg clinch both times to win the match. Kjar finished fourth.

Cejudo said he plans to wrestle at the Hargobind International next weekend in Canada before competing in an event in France after that.

Cejudo became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion after winning in Beijing at age 21. He wrestled for only the second time since winning the Olympics. He earned a win in May during the U.S. dual meet against Russia in New York City.

Dustin Kilgore was named Outstanding Wrestler after winning the title in a strong class at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Kilgore outlasted Wynn Michalak in a three-period finals battle matching Olympic Training Center resident-athletes.

"Wynn, we train together every day," Kilgore said. "He's one heck of a tough wrestler. He's one of the toughest guys in the country. We push each other and make each other better. It was great to see two Olympic Training Center guys in the finals."

The U.S. also crowned champions in Jared Frayer (66 kg/145.5 lbs.), Trent Paulson (74 kg/163 lbs.), Raymond Jordan (84 kg/185 lbs.), Dustin Kilgore (96 kg/211.5 lbs.) and Dom Bradley (120 kg/264.5 lbs.). Kilgore and Bradley are taking Olympic redshirts during this college season.

Paulson, a 2009 World Team member, fell behind in his finals bout with Lloyd Rogers before countering a shot attempt and launching Rogers to his back to record a first-period fall.

"It's real important to win here. It's the Olympic year," Paulson said. "I just need to stay healthy. I had three injuries going into the World Team Trials. I just wasn't 100 percent and that kind of cost me. I feel good now."

The Sunkist Kids captured the team title.

The Sunkist Kids event is an Olympic Trials qualifier. The top U.S. finisher in freestyle, placing in the top four, punched their ticket to the Trials in each weight.

The Olympic Trials are scheduled for April 21-22 in Iowa City



55 kg/121 lbs.
Henry Cejudo (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) dec. Danny Felix (Morgantown, W.Va./Unattached), 1-0, 1-0

60 kg/132 lbs.
John Pineda (Canada) dec. Derek Moore (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), 3-2, 0-1, 3-0

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Jared Frayer (Norman, Okla./Gator WC) dec. Joe Johnston (Columbia, Mo./Gator WC), 4-0, 1-3, 3-1

74 kg/163 lbs.
Trent Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) pinned Lloyd Rogers (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC), 1:43

84 kg/185 lbs.
Raymond Jordan (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) dec. Jon Reader (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Dustin Kilgore (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) dec. Wynn Michalak (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC), 6-0, 3-3, 3-2

120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Dom Bradley (Columbia, Mo./Sunkist Kids) went 2-0 in the round robin to win the title.
Charles Fish (U.S. Marines) went 1-1 to place second.