Numerous star wrestlers with Ohio connection expected at Senior World Team Trials presented by Unit

By Gary Abbott | June 14, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
Many star wrestlers with a connection to the state of Ohio will be in the field at the 2001 Senior World Team Trials, presented by United Airlines, held at the Cintas Center at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 22-24. A strong field of up to 175 of the best freestyle, Greco-Roman and women wrestlers in the nation are expected to compete. Champions from this competition will receive the coveted opportunity to wrestle on U.S. soil at the 2001 World Championships of Wrestling, which will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, September 26-29. Up to 17 athletes who attended high school or college in Ohio, or are current Ohio residents, are among the qualifiers for this outstanding event. Only athletes who have met specific qualification requirements may compete in this tournament. The major qualifying event was the 2001 U.S. National Wrestling Championships, held in Las Vegas, Nev. in April. In the women's freestyle division, two Cleveland-area natives were 2001 U.S. Nationals champions and will enter the tournament as top seeds in their weight class: 123.25-pound National champion Tina George (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist) and 149.75-pound National champion Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland, Ohio/Sunkist Kids). George attended Cleveland Heights High School and is now training full-time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Montgomery just completed her senior year at East Technical High School. At least nine Ohio natives are eligible to partcipate in the men's freestyle competition. The top placing qualifier from the 2001 U.S. Nationals is Tim Dernlan (Huber Heights, Ohio/Ohio International), who was the national runner-up at 119 pounds. Dernlan was a three-time state champion for West Liberty-Salem High School. A pair of Ohio natives placed fourth in their weight class in freestyle at the 2001 U.S. Nationals: Joe Heskett (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 167.5 pounds and Tommy Rowlands (Columbus, Ohio/Dave Schultz WC) at 286 pounds. Heskett was a three-time state champion for Walsh Jesuit High School. Rowlands won two state titles for Bishop Ready High School. Rowlands was also a NCAA Div. I runner-up as a freshman for Ohio State Univ. this past season. Other potential freestyle participants with Ohio roots include No. 6 Yoshi Nakamura (Elyria, Ohio/Dave Schultz WC) at 152 pounds, unranked Dan St. John (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 167.5 pounds, No. 6 Markus Mollica (Watertown, Mass./Dave Schultz WC) at 187.25 pounds No. 5 Zach Thompson (Ames, Iowa/Cyclone WC) at 213.75 pounds, No. 6 Rex Holman (Columbus, Ohio/ Sunkist Kids) at 213.75 pounds and unranked Airron Richardson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Team Excel). Nakamura was a two-time state champion for St. Edward High School. St. John was a state runner-up for St. Joseph High School. Mollica claimed two state titles for Walsh Jesuit High School. Thompson was third in the state championships for St. Edward High School. Holman claimed two state titles for Upper Arlington High School and was also a NCAA Div. I champion for Ohio State Univ. Richardson was a state champion for Roy C. Start High School. The men's Greco-Roman field features up to four individuals with an Ohio background. The top placewinner at the 2001 U.S. Nationals was third-place Brian Keck (Louisville, Ky./NYAC) at 286 pounds. Keck was a state champion for Padua High School, and also won a Junior College national title for Cuyahoga CC during his college career. Other Ohio natives in Greco-Roman are No. 4 Ross Thatcher (State College, Pa./New York AC) at 213.75 pounds and No. 7 Russ Davie (Cleveland, Ohio/Cleveland WC) at 286 pounds. Thatcher won a pair of state titles for Bishop Ready High School. Davie, who competed for Perrysburg High School, is a current member of the Cleveland State team. Another potential participant is 1996 Olympic silver medalist Matt Ghaffari (Avon Lake, Ohio/ Sunkist Kids) at 286 pounds. Ghaffari competed at Cleveland State prior to his international career. Although he has not competed this season, Ghaffari is eligible to enter if he so chooses. Another Ohio native who is eligible to wrestle in the women's division is Jessi Shirley (Galion, Ohio) at 112.25 pounds, who competed this year for Northmor High School. The tournament format features a two-day Challenge Tournament and a championship finals series. The Challenge Tournament in all three styles will be held on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23. This includes all of the competitors except for the 2001 National Champions, who are automatically in the finals. On Sunday, June 24, the Championship finals in each weight class will be held, featuring the national champion facing the Challenge Tournament winner in a best-of-three series. Ticket Prices are reasonable for coaches, athletes, fans and families. An All-Session Pass for all three days is just $50. Each Challenge Tournament session costs just $10. The price for the Championship Finals for an adult is $30 and the Championships Finals for youth (18 and under) is $20. To order tickets, call Ticketmaster at (513)562-4949 or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticketmaster and credit card purchases are subject to additional surcharges. 2001 SENIOR WORLD TEAM TRIALS QUALIFIERS Cincinnati, Ohio, June 22-24 Participants with Ohio connection (ranking is their place at U.S. Nationals, hometown is their current residence) Freestyle 119 lbs. # 2 - Tim Dernlan, Huber Heights, Ohio (Ohio International) 152 lbs. # 6 - Yoshi Nakamura, Elyria, Ohio (Dave Schultz WC) 167.5 lbs. #4 - Joe Heskett, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids) 167.5 lbs. unranked - Dan St. John, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) 187.25 lbs. #6 - Markus Mollica, Watertown, Mass. (Dave Schultz WC) 213.75 lbs. #5 - Zach Thompson, Ames, Iowa (Cyclone WC) 213.75 lbs. #6 - Rex Holman, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids) 286 lbs. #4 - Tommy Rowlands, Columbus, Ohio (Dave Schultz WC) 286 lbs. unranked - Airron Richardson, Shaker Heights, Ohio (Team Excel) Greco-Roman 213.75 lbs. #4 - Ross Thatcher, State College, Pa. (New York AC) 286 lbs. #3 - Brian Keck, Louisville, Ky. (NYAC) 286 lbs. #7. Russ Davie, Cleveland, Ohio (Cleveland WC) 286 lbs. unranked - Matt Ghaffari, Avon Lake, Ohio (Sunkist Kids) Women 112.25 lbs. unranked - Jessi Shirley, Galion, Ohio 123.25 lbs. National Champion - Tina George, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist) 149.75 lbs. National Champion - Toccara Montgomery, Cleveland, Ohio (Sunkist Kids)