U.S. female wrestlers prep for 2012 Olympics

Jun 12 2011 - 3:44pm

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A new setup at the World Team Trials has America's top female wrestlers weighing their best way to succeed at 2012 London Olympics.

To ensure that the country's top wrestler at each of the Olympics' four weight classes is chosen, only those classes are on the program for this weekend's competition in Oklahoma City.

"We want our best people at the Olympic weights," U.S. women's coach Terry Steiner said. "The only way to do that is to take the trials out at the non-Olympic weights and force them into it. ... We're going to see who our best person is right now to make that team."

The trials that started Friday won't have any direct bearing on who makes the Olympic team, but they're the first step to getting ahead.

"It doesn't make our Olympic team, but you definitely set yourself in a good position because if you win here and you win a medal at the worlds this year, you're in the Olympic trial final. You definitely put yourself in a great position to make that Olympic team," Steiner said.

"As far as I'm concerned, if you win here and you win a medal, it's time to get to work."

The toughest choices come for wrestlers who naturally fall between the Olympic weight classes, such as two-time world champion Kristie Davis. She has won world titles at 149.75 pounds (68 kilograms) and 147.5 pounds (67 kgs) but had to decide to move up or down by about nine pounds to make the most of one of the Olympic weight classes.

The prospect of moving up, she said, isn't as simple as just eating and drinking whatever she wants. It would mean adding the muscle needed to compete with the world's top wrestlers.

Instead, she'll be competing at 138.75 pounds (63 kgs) as she aims toward London.

"I'm stuck in the middle, so waiting 'til next year to drop down I think would have been a disadvantage because a) I don't get to wrestle the girls throughout the season and then b) every time you go down to a weight class, it's hard to get down to," said Davis, who has nine world medals but none in the Olympics.

The bottom line is trying to improve on the Americans' medal count from the lone bronze won by Randi Miller at the 2008 Games. In 2004, Sara McMann won silver and Patricia Miranda bronze in the first time women's wrestling was on the Olympic program.

"I think we've had pretty good performances at both Olympics. Last Olympics, we only had one medal, but we had three people in the medal matches and we lost two medal matches," Steiner said. "We expect success. We have good athletes right now.

"We can win with this team. Whoever they are that come out of these weight classes, we can win with. We expect a lot of success. We're going for four medals and we're capable of it. Whether it happens or not is another thing, but we're capable of that."


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