USA Wrestling has announced the U.S. lineups for the 2000 Pan American Championships, set for Cali, Colombia, May 21-27.
Held three of every four years during the non-Pan American Games years, the Pan American Championships features the best wrestlers in North, Central and South America. The Greco-Roman tournament will be held on May 22-24, the women's tournament on May 23-24 and the freestyle tournament on May 25-27.
The event has special significance in the men's freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions as the final qualifying tournament for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. A separate "Olympic qualification tournament," with only non-qualified nations entered, will be held at each weight class prior to the event, with only the champion earning his nation a spot at the Sydney Games. This is the format which has been held at all continental championships this year.
The United States must still qualify in four weight classes in Greco-Roman (119 lbs., 127.75 lbs., 152 lbs. and 167.5 lbs.). The United States will enter its 2000 U.S. Nationals champion at each of these weight classes at the Pan American Championships in the final qualifying opportunity.
The national champion wrestlers who must win the "Olympic Qualification Tournament" to qualify the U.S. for the Olympics include Brandon Paulson (Golden Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 119 pounds, Dennis Hall (Plover, Wis./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds, Heath Sims (Huntington Beach, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) at 152 pounds and Matt Lindland (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) at 167.5 pounds.
Hall and Paulson won silver medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. Hall was also a 1995 World Champion and 1994 World bronze medalist. Lindland's top international performance was sixth in the 1998 World Championships. Sims was a member of the 1995 U.S. World team.
Cuba, the other top Greco-Roman power among Pan American nations, must also still qualify at 127.75 pounds and 167.5 pounds. Therefore, Hall and Lindland may have to beat Cuban opponents in order to qualify the U.S. at their weight classes. Both Hall and Lindland won gold medals at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada and defeated Cuban opponents during the tournament.
The U.S. is also sending talented athletes for the Pan American Championships at the four qualified weight divisions, including 2000 U.S. Nationals champions Quincey Clark (New Brighton, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 187.25 pounds and Rulon Gardner (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 286 pounds. Also competing are 1999 Junior World Champion and 2000 U.S. Nationals runner-up Garrett Lowney (Appleton, Wis./Minnesota Storm) at 213.75 pounds, along with 1999 U.S. Nationals champion Glenn Nieradka (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 138.75 pounds.
The United States has qualified for the 2000 Olympic Games in all eight weight classes in freestyle. The U.S. will not participate in the "Olympic Qualification Tournament" portion of the event, which determines the remaining Olympic berth at each weight. However, the eight U.S. wrestlers will participate in the Pan American Championships portion of the tournament.
The U.S. team will be led by 2000 U.S. Nationals champions Cary Kolat (Morgantown, W.Va./Dave Schultz WC) at 138.75 pounds and Kerry McCoy (State College, Pa./New York AC) at 286 pounds. Kolat is a two-time World medalist. McCoy, fourth in the 1998 World Championships, defeated 1999 World champion Stephen Neal in the U.S. Nationals finals.
Three 2000 U.S. Nationals runners-up will also compete: Chris Bono (Gilbert, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 152 pounds, Charles Burton (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) at 187.25 pounds and Dominic Black (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 213.75 pounds.
Rounding out the U.S. lineup will be 1996 Olympian Lou Rosselli (Edinboro, Pa./New York AC) at 119 pounds, 1999 World team member Eric Guerrero (Stillwater, Okla./Sunkist Kids) at 127.75 pounds and 1998 World team member Steve Marianetti (Urbana, Ill./New York AC) at 167.5 pounds.
Women's wrestling is not yet an Olympic sport, so the tournament will have no Olympic bearing. However, the top women's wrestlers in the hemisphere will compete for coveted Pan American titles. The United States is the reigning World Team champion in women's wrestling. Canada and Venezuela also have strong teams.
The U.S. team is led by 2000 U.S. Nationals champions Sara McMann (Lock Haven, Pa./Sunkist Kids) at 136.5 pounds and Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 165.25 pounds. McMann was the Outstanding Wrestler at the 2000 U.S. Women's Nationals.
Also competing are 2000 U.S. Nationals runners-up Clarrisa Chun (Kapolei, Hawaii/Viking WC) at 101.25 pounds and Malissa Sherwood (Rocklin, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) at 123.25 pounds. Rounding out the U.S. team are Jenny Wong (Minneapolis, Minn./Sunkist Kids) at 112.25 pounds and Melanie Macari (Fremont, Calif./Viking WC) at 149.75 pounds.
PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS at Cali, Colombia, May 21-27
U.S. Greco-Roman team
54 kg/119 lbs. - Brandon Paulson, Golden Valley, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Dennis Hall, Plover, Wis. (Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Glenn Nieradka, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
69 kg/152 lbs. - Heath Sims, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Dave Schultz WC)
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Matt Lindland, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids)
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Quincey Clark, New Brighton, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. - Garrett Lowney, Appleton, Wis. (Minnesota Storm)
130 kg/286 lbs. - Rulon Gardner, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
Coaches - Dan Chandler, Minneapolis, Minn.; Rob Hermann, Pensacola, Fla.; Steve Fraser, Colorado Springs, Colo.
U.S. freestyle team
54 kg/119 lbs. - Lou Rosselli, Edinboro, Pa. (New York AC)
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Eric Guerrero, Stillwater, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Cary Kolat, Morgantown, W.Va. (Dave Schultz WC)
69 kg/152 lbs. - Chris Bono, Gilbert, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Steve Marianetti, Urbana, Ill. (New York AC)
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Charles Burton, Bloomington, Ind. (New York AC)
97 kg/213.75 lbs. - Dominic Black, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
130 kg/286 lbs. - Kerry McCoy, State College, Pa. (New York AC)
Coaches -Mark Manning, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Zeke Jones, Morgantown, W.Va.
U.S. women's team
46 kg/101.25 lbs. - Clarissa Chun, Kapolei, Hawaii (Viking WC)
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Jenny Wong, Minneapolis, Minn. (Sunkist Kids)
56 kg/123.75 lbs. - Malissa Sherwood, Rocklin, Calif. (Dave Schultz WC)
62 kg/136.5 lbs. - Sara McMann, Lock Haven, Pa. (Sunkist Kids)
68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Melanie Macari, Fremont, Calif. (Viking WC)
75 kg/165.25 lbs. - Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
Coaches - Jack Griffin, Evanston, Ill.