WRESTLING: Canada's Verbeek edges U.S. wrestler Marcie Van Dusen in finals of Pan American Championships
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-You can't fault Marcie Van Dusen's effort. She was the aggressor from the outset, constantly pushing the pace and being on the attack in her quest to qualify her women's freestyle weight class for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. But in the end, the only shot Olympic silver medalist Tonya Verbeek of Canada took was the difference in the Pan American Championships finals match at 55 kg/121 lbs. Verbeek shot in on a single and dumped Van Dusen to the mat halfway through the third period for a takedown. She then held on as Van Dusen charged in desperately to try and score the winning takedown late Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Verbeek pulled out a 1-1, 0-1, 1-1 victory over Van Dusen (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) in the finals. The U.S. will have two more chances to qualify for the Olympics in women's freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs. Qualifiers remain in May in Canada and Sweden."I think I did fairly well, but I have to learn from my mistakes and go from there,"Van Dusen said."I expected to win this match. I feel I am the better wrestler."The U.S. has already qualified for the Olympics in the other three weight classes for women's freestyle. The American squad edged Canada 67-64 for the team title. Van Dusen, a 2007 World Team member, beat Verbeek in the semifinals of the 2007 Pan American Games. Van Dusen drove in on a leg attack to score the first point of the match, but Verbeek won the period after scoring a point of her own after countering to push Van Dusen out of bounds. Van Dusen came back late in the second period, firing in on a single-leg shot and finishing with one second left for a takedown to even the match. The decisive third period followed and Van Dusen quickly took control, shooting in on a leg attack and finishing for a takedown just 20 seconds into the period. Verbeek responded by shooting for the first, and only, time in the match and finishing on the leg attack with one minute left. Van Dusen nearly spun behind Verbeek after being taken down, but was unable to break free. Van Dusen then tried valiantly to shoot in and score in the final 30 seconds, but Verbeek countered effectively to preserve the win."Today was all about me pushing through it and believing in myself,"Verbeek said."This wasn't my best match by any means, but I got the job done."Van Dusen was asked about the challenges of trying to finish against a strong foe in Verbeek."I will have to watch some video,"Van Dusen said."I feel I am the best wrestler, but she got the better of me today. It won't happen again. I am always a better third-period wrestler. She was waiting for me to take my shots. I needed more setups for my shots."In the other women's freestyle weight classes, Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) won the title at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. with a 3-0, 2-1 win over Ingrid Cuellar of El Salvador. Patricia Miranda (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) won the title at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. with a 6-0, 7-1 win over Canada's Vanessa Brown. The 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time World silver medalist returned to the mat for the first time since suffering a knee injury just before the 2007 World Championships. Tatiana Padilla (LaVerne, Calif./Sunkist Kids) won the gold medal at 59 kg/130 lbs. after prevailing in the round-robin competition. Elena Pirozhkov (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) won the gold medal at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. after downing Canada's Megan Dolan 1-0, 3-1 in the finals. Stephany Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) won the gold medal at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. after winning the round-robin competition in her class. Tori Adams (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) won a bronze medal at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Other wrestlers who qualified their countries for the Olympics were Ingrid Cueller of El Salvador at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Martine Dugrenier of Canada at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Ohenewa Akuffo of Canada at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. Dugrenier won the gold medal while Cuellar and Akuffo each won silver medals. The two silver medalists from the Pan American Championships qualified their countries for the Olympics by virtue of being the highest finishers among the countries that had not already qualified for the Olympics. The three-day competition concludes Sunday with the men's freestyle competition. The U.S. is looking to qualify its final two freestyle weights for the Olympics with Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Gator WC) taking the mat. Cejudo wrestles at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Zadick, a past World silver medalist, competes at 60 kg/132 lbs.