USA Wrestling U S lineups set in ...

U S lineups set in all three styles for Pan American Championships

By Craig Sesker | Feb. 23, 2008, 4:03 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Pan American Championships are held every year, but this year's wrestling event takes on much more significance as it serves as a qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

This year's Pan American Championships are set for Feb. 29-March 2 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The Pan American Championships is sponsored by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

The U.S. qualified 12 of 18 overall weight classes for the Olympics at the 2007 World Championships by virtue of finishing in the top eight in 12 weight classes in Baku, Azerbaijan. Only Russia, with 13 qualifiers, has more weight classes qualified for the Olympics at this time.

In all three styles at the Pan American Championships, the top athlete in each weight class from a nation which has not already qualified for the Olympics will qualify that nation to compete in the Beijing Games. Only nations that competed at the 2007 World Championships in each weight class are eligible to qualify through the Pan American Championships.

The U.S. still needs to qualify three weights in Greco-Roman (60 kg/132 lbs., 74 kg/163 lbs. and 96 kg/211.5 lbs.), two in freestyle (55 kg/121 lbs. and 60 kg/132 lbs.) and one in women's freestyle (55 kg/121 lbs.).

The Greco-Roman competition is set for Feb. 29, followed by women's freestyle on March 1 and freestyle on March 2. The Pan American Championships include athletes from North, South and Central America.

The U.S. will enter 2007 World Team members Joe Betterman (60 kg/132 lbs.), T.C. Dantzler (74 kg/163 lbs.) and Justin Ruiz (96 kg/211.5 lbs.) in the Greco-Roman weights it needs to qualify. Dantzler placed fifth in the World in 2006 and Ruiz won a World bronze medal in 2005.

"The Pan American Championships play a huge role in our quest for Olympic excellence," U.S. National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser said. "Our 60 kg, 74 kg and 96 kg weight classes obviously will be our main focus in this tournament, with the goal to win the championship and qualify our entire Greco squad for Beijing. We are very confident that we can accomplish this goal and feel very good about our chances in shocking the world again by winning a record number of medals in Beijing this August."

In freestyle, the U.S. will enter 2007 World Team member Henry Cejudo (55 kg/121 lbs.) and 2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick (60 kg/132 lbs.) in hopes of qualifying the final two weights in freestyle for the Olympics. Cejudo won the Pan American Championships and Pan American Games in 2007. Zadick placed second in the 2007 Pan American Games.

"This is our most important event of the new year so far for 55 kg and 60 kg," U.S. National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson said. "This is the best scenario to get those weights qualified for the Olympics. With berths to the Olympics at stake, the matches will be intense. We must win at 55 kg and 60 kg.

"All of our athletes will compete for gold medals. Cuba will challenge us in all the weight classes and Canada will field one of their best teams."

2007 World Team member Marcie Van Dusen will try to qualify the fourth and final Olympic weight class for the women at 55 kg/121 lbs. Van Dusen is coming off a win over five-time World champion and Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida of Japan at the World Cup.

The Pan American Championships are the first of three remaining qualifiers in each style for the U.S. to qualify its remaining weight classes for the Olympics.

Click here for Olympic qualified weight classes among Pan American nations.

Nations expected to compete in the Pan American Championships include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

U.S. ROSTERS FOR PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS,
FEB. 29-MARCH 2, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.


GRECO-ROMAN

55 kg/121 lbs. - Josh Habeck, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Joe Betterman, Chicago, Ill. (New York AC/USOEC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Jake Curby, LaGrange, Ill. (Gator WC/USOEC)
74 kg/163 lbs. - T.C. Dantzler, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
84 kg/185 lbs. - Chas Betts, St. Michael, Minn. (Minnesota Storm/USOEC)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Justin Ruiz, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Russ Davie, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)

Coaches - Steve Fraser (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Momir Petkovic (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Ike Anderson (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Dan Chandler (Minneapolis, Minn.); Rob Hermann (Pensacola, Fla.), Jay Antonelli (Chesapeake, Va.), Rich Estrella (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

WOMEN'S FREESTYLE

48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Mary Kelly, Gaffney, S.C. (New York AC)
51 kg/112 lbs. - Patricia Miranda, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
55 kg/121 lbs. - Marcie Van Dusen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
59 kg/130 lbs. - Tatiana Padilla, LaVerne, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Tori Adams, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Elena Pirozhkov, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Stephany Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)

Coaches - Terry Steiner (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Vladislav Izboinikov (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

FREESTYLE

55 kg/121 lbs. - Henry Cejudo, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Gator WC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Chris Bono, Ringgold, Ga. (Sunkist Kids)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Casey Cunningham, Mt. Pleasant, Mich. (Sunkist Kids)
84 kg/185 lbs. - Joe Williams, Belvidere, Ill. (Sunkist Kids)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Damion Hahn, Ithaca, N.Y. (New York AC)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Tommy Rowlands, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids)

Coaches - Kevin Jackson (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Terry Brands (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Lee Kemp (Alpharetta, Ga.)