U.S. wrestlers in all three styles to enter FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals in Azerbaijan , Nov. 22-24

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Nov. 19, 2013, 2:41 p.m. (ET)

Photos of World medalist Elena Pirozhkova competing at the 2013 World Championships by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors

BAKU, Azerbaijan – Top U.S. athletes in all three Olympic styles will be on display at the 2013 Heydar Aliev FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals at the Sarkhadchi Sports Complex, November 22-24.

This is the final event of FILA’s Golden Grand Prix series. Athletes who compete there are from nations which have qualified through the preliminary Golden Grand Prix events in 2013.

The competition begins Friday, Nov. 22 with the Greco-Roman tournament. Team USA has two entries, two-time Olympian Spenser Mango (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and two-time World Team member Joe Betterman (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) at 60 kg/132 lbs. Mango had his best World Championships performance in 2013 with a fifth-place finish in Budapest, Hungary.

Next up is women’s freestyle on Saturday, Nov. 23, with four members of the 2013 U.S. World Team in the draw. 2012 World champion and three-time World medalist Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) will compete at 63 kg/138.75 lbs, and 2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./Sunkist Kids) wrestling at 55 kg/121 lbs.

The other two World Team members on the U.S. women’s team will be Victoria Anthony (Huntington Beach, Calif./Sunkist Kids) at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. and Veronica Carlson (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. Anthony was fifth in her weight class at the World Championships.

The final day of action, Sunday, Nov. 24, will feature men’s freestyle. Team USA has a group of seven athletes in the tournament, including 2013 U.S. World Team members Angel Escobedo (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC/Ohio RTC) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Keith Gavin (Columbus, Ohio/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) at 84 kg/185 lbs. Escobedo placed fifth at the 2013 World Championships on his first World Team.

Four national team athletes who placed second in the 2013 World Team Trials will be on the tour: Jimmy Kennedy (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC/Michigan RTC) at 60 kg/132 lbs., Kellen Russell (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC/Michigan RTC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Kyle Dake (Ithaca, N.Y./Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes RTC) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Clayton Foster, Laramie, Wyo. (GRIT Athletics/Wyoming RTC) at 84 kg/185 lbs.

Rounding out the U.S. freestyle squad is Wynn Michalak (Champaign, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., fresh off his victory at the 2013 New York AC International.

Prize money will be awarded to the medalists by the organizers, with $10,000 to gold medalists, $5,000 to silver medalists and $2,000 to bronze medalists.

In addition, U.S. athletes are eligible for bonus payments as part of the USA Wrestling National Team contract, which for this event consists of $3,000 for gold, $2,000 for silver and $1,000 for bronze.

Last year, Veronica Carlson won a silver medal in women’s freestyle at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. for the USA, and Les Sigman (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) added a bronze at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. in men’s freestyle.

At Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 22-24

U.S. Greco-Roman roster
55 kg/121 lbs. – Spenser Mango, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Joe Betterman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP)
Coach – Shon Lewis, Colorado Springs, Colo.

U.S. women’s freestyle roster
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Victoria Anthony, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Helen Maroulis, Rockville, Md. (Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC)
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Veronica Carlson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
Coach – Afsoon Johnston, San Diego, Calif.
Coach – Andrea Carstens Yamamoto, Richland, Wash.

U.S. men’s freestyle roster
55 kg/121 lbs. – Angel Escobedo, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Jimmy Kennedy, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Michigan RTC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Michigan RTC)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake, Ithaca, N.Y. (Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes RTC)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Keith Gavin, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Clayton Foster, Laramie, Wyo. (GRIT Athletics/Wyoming RTC)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC)
Team Leader – Paul Kieblesz, New York, N.Y.
National Freestyle Coach – Zeke Jones, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Referee – Casey Goessl, St. Paul, Minn.
Medical – Nate Hayes, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Event Schedule

Friday, November 22
Greco-Roman (all weight divisions)

Saturday, November 23
Women’s Freestyle (all weight divisions)

Sunday, November 24
Men’s Freestyle (all weight divisions)


Greco-Roman champions
55 kg/121 lbs. – Orhan Ahmadov (Azerbaijan)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Kamran Mammadov (Azerbaijan)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Balint Korpasi (Hungary)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Dmitry Pyshkov (Ukraine)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Viktor Lorincz (Hungary)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Shalva Gababadze (Azerbaijan)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Yusup Nunayev (Hungary)

Women’s Freestyle champions
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Anna Iwamura (Japan)
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Yu Miyahara (Japan)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Kanako Murata (Japan)
59 kg/130 lbs. – Yui Sakano (Japan)
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Anastasija Griorjeva (Latvia)
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Nadeshda Sementsova (Azerbaijan)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Jenny Fransson (Sweden)

Men’s freestyle champions
55 kg/121 lbs. – Nariman Israpilov (Russia)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Haji Aliev (Azerbaijan)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Dauren Zhumagaziev (Kazakhstan)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Magomed Ibragimov (Russia)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Giorgi Sakandelidze (Georgia)