The United States will send a young but talented team to compete at the Freestyle World Cup in Moscow, Russia, March 6-7. The World Cup is the annual international dual meet championship of the world.
The World Cup has just recently been moved to Moscow, after originally being set for the city of Khasavjurt. According to the Russian Wrestling Federation website, the move was made because more time was needed for the completion of construction of the arena in Khasavjurt where the event was scheduled to be held.
The World Cup features the top eight teams from the 2009 World Wrestling Championships in Herning, Denmark. Competing at this year's World Cup are 1. Russia, 2. Azerbaijan, 3. Iran; 4. Turkey; 5. Ukraine; 6. Belarus; 7. United States; 8. Uzbekistan.
"We marked the World Cup on the calendar as a place where we are positioned to perform at the highest level," said National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones. "It is great that we are back in the World Cup and can compete against the world's best."
The United States team will be led by a pair of 2009 World medalists, silver medalist Jake Herbert (Evanston, Ill./New York AC) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
The rest of the U.S. team was determined at a World Cup Wrestle-off, held in Colorado Springs, Colo., on January 22.
Capturing spots on the team at the wrestle-off were Sam Hazewinkel (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Shawn Bunch (Columbus, Ohio/Gator WC) at 60 kg/132 lbs., Teyon Ware (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Mike Poeta (Champaign, Ill./Lehigh Valley AC) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and J.D. Bergman (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Bunch was a member of the 2009 U.S. World Team. Hazewinkel is in his first year competing internationally in freestyle, after switching over from Greco-Roman where he was a two-time U.S. National champion and a runner-up at the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Three other wrestlers have been added to the team as alternates: Danny Felix (Morgantown, W.Va./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Corey Jantzen (Shoreham, N.Y./Lehigh Valley AC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Trent Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 74 kg/163 lbs.
Felix and Paulson were members of the 2009 U.S. World Team. Paulson is up one weight class from last year, when he competed on the World Team at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
"As a team, we are getting better. That is regardless of our medal performances in Russia, Cuba, Ukraine and Turkey this winter. As a coach, I am measuring improvement. After these recent competitions, I believe we are on track for the World Cup. We will put our foot on the line, get after it, and pour our heart out on the mat," said Jones.
The teams at the World Cup will be split into two pools, with four teams in each pool. The pool competition will be held on Saturday, March 6. The medal matches for first, third and fifth place will be held on Sunday, March 7.
The United States did not qualify for the 2009 World Cup, which was held in Tehran, Iran. The top three teams from the 2009 World Cup were champion Azerbaijan, second place Iran and third place Russia.
The U.S. team had been scheduled to compete in a pair of dual meets against top Russian teams. The dual meets were scheduled for Vladkikavkaz on March 8 and Nalchik on March 9. USA Wrestling believes that these duals will still take place, and additional details will be forthcoming.
"This is a place to perform well," said Jones. "The guys are excited to compete against the world's top eight teams. With the dual meets, we also get to compete against Russia's best athletes."
U.S. FREESTYLE WORLD CUP TEAM
55 kg/121 lbs. - Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
55 kg/121 lbs. - Danny Felix, Morgantown, W.Va. (Sunkist Kids)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Shawn Bunch, Columbus, Ohio (Gator WC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Teyon Ware, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Corey Jantzen, Shoreham, N.Y. (Lehigh Valley AC)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Mike Poeta, Champaign, Ill. (Lehigh Valley AC)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Trent Paulson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
84 kg/185 lbs. - Jake Herbert, Evanston, Ill. (New York AC)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids) Coaches:
National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Assistant National Freestyle Coach Brandon Slay, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Assistant National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Sean Bormet, Naperville, Ill. Medical: Darryl Miller, Englewood, Colo.
Official: Toby Walker, Neptune Beach, Fla.
FREESTYLE WORLD CUP SCHEDULE
at Moscow, Russia, March 6-7 Saturday, March 6
3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Pool competition, Bouts 1, 2 and 3 Sunday, March 7
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.- Fifth-place match
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m - Third-place match
2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Championship match