(Las Vegas, NV) Going into the 2008 Olympic year, the wrestling community is gearing up for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, to be hosted at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., June 13-15, 2008.
Hundreds of talented and motivated wrestlers around the nation have begun their training for a chance to represent the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. There will be as many as 18 positions on the U.S. Olympic Team in wrestling.
Numerous World and Olympic medalists in the three international wrestling styles are expected to qualify to compete in Las Vegas at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
There are four past World Champions who are currently in training:
* 2006 World champion Bill Zadick (freestyle)
* 2002 World champion Dremiel Byers (Greco-Roman)
* 2000 and 2003 World champion Kristie Marano (women’s freestyle)
* 2005 World champion Iris Smith (women’s freestyle)
Both of the women’s freestyle wrestlers who won a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games are preparing to compete this season, Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann and Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda. Both of these athletes have also won three career World medals to go along with their Olympic honors.
Another 2004 Olympic medalist who is seriously training for a chance for another medal is Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas in men’s freestyle.
Other members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team who will be looking to return to the Olympic Games are Joe Williams and Daniel Cormier in men’s freestyle, as well as Jim Gruenwald, Oscar Wood and Brad Vering in men’s Greco-Roman. Of this group, Williams, Cormier and Vering have also won World Championships medals.
Cary Kolat, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team which competed in Sydney, Australia, is in training for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in men’s freestyle. Kolat won two World medals during his career, and made a comeback from retirement about a year ago.
Numerous past World medalists are seeking to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and bring home their first Olympic medal.
In men’s freestyle, past World medalists who are in training include Bill Zadick, Williams, and Cormier plus Mike Zadick, Donny Pritzlaff and Tolly Thompson.
In men’s Greco-Roman, past World medalists who have Olympic aspirations include Byers and Vering, plus Harry Lester, Lindsey Durlacher and Justin Ruiz.
In women’s freestyle, past World medalists seeking to make the U.S. Olympic Team include McMann, Marano and Miranda, plus Stephanie Murata, Katie Downing, Jenny Wong, Sally Roberts and Tina George.
Two athletes who have been gold medalists for the United States in men’s freestyle competed on the freestyle circuit last year, 1998 World champion Sammie Henson and 1996 Olympic champion Kendall Cross. At this point, it is uncertain if either will enter the Olympic Trials process this season.
Past World and Olympic Team members automatically qualify to compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, so all of these medalists, plus their U.S. World and Olympic teammates, will be entered in the Trials if they choose to participate.
There will also be dozens of past NCAA wrestling champions expected in the field, all looking for success at the highest level of wrestling competition, the Olympic Games.
Often, during the Olympic year, past wrestling stars make comebacks, seeking one more chance for glory. In addition, many of the nation’s best young talents from the college levels will test the waters in the Olympic year.
The qualification process for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials begins in March. Events which are included in the qualifying process are the U.S. National Championships, four Olympic Regional Qualifiers for men and one for women, the University National Championships, the Women’s College Nationals and the Armed Forces Greco-Roman Championships.
No wonder the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling is one of the most popular wrestling competitions for fans. It is truly an all-star meet, displaying the greatest wrestlers in the nation.