Jake Varner celebrates a win at 96 kg at the 2011 World Championships. Varner will compete in the Yarygin Memorial in Russia this weekend. Larry Slater photo
Four top U.S. freestylers to compete in Ivan Yarygin Memorial in Russia, Jan. 27-29
The United States will enter a small but talented men's freestyle team in the 2012 Ivan Yarygin Memorial Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Jan. 27-29.
The Ivan Yarygin Memorial Grand Prix is considered one of the most challenging international events in the world each year, and will include top athletes from World champion Russia as well as many of the world's best wrestling nations. The event, which features men's and women's freestyle, is named in honor of the late Ivan Yarygin, an Olympic champion athlete, former Soviet Union freestyle coach and past Russian Wrestling Federation president.
The four U.S. wrestlers have extensive international achievements and will be top medal hopefuls at the tournament.
Competing at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. will be 2011 World bronze medalist Jake Varner (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC). Last year, Varner went on a strong run to reach the semifinals at the Yarygin Memorial, where he was injured and unable to finish the tournament.
Also on the U.S. team is 2009 World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Dlagnev was also fifth in the 2011 World Championships. Last year, Dlagnev won a bronze medal at the Yarygin Memorial.
2010 World Team member Brent Metcalf (Iowa City, Iowa/New York AC) is entered at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Metcalf finished a strong fifth at last year's Yarygin Memorial.
The other U.S. athlete is 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Hazewinkel (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs. Hazewinkel competed in the 2010 Yarygin Memorial but did not reach the medal rounds.
Only 10 U.S. athletes have ever won this event in men's freestyle. The last American men's freestyle champion was Steve Mocco in 2009. All 10 of the winners were Olympians during their career, with six winning Olympic medals and four winning Olympic gold medals.
The U.S. delegation has spent eight days training in Vladikavkaz, Russia prior to the competition. This is one of the world's top hotbeds for international freestyle wrestling, with numerous World and Olympic medalists from Russia and other nations training there. This international training camp is a key part of Freestyle Team USA's preparation for success at the World and Olympic levels.
The United States will also enter a delegation in women's freestyle, with 10 athletes participating, including three past World medalists. There have only been five U.S. women to ever win this tournament.
For information on Women's Team USA at the Yarygin Memorial, click the link below.
U.S. women's lineup for Yarygin Memorial
IVAN YARYGIN MEMORIAL GRAND PRIX
At Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Jan. 27-29
U.S. men's freestyle team
55 kg/121 lbs. - Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Brent Metcalf, Iowa City, Iowa (New York AC)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Jake Varner, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids)
Coach - National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Team Leader - Paul Kieblesz, New York, N.Y.
2012 Ivan Yarygin Memorial International schedule
Friday, January 27
Men's freestyle (55 kg, 74 kg), Women's freestyle (51 kg, 59 kg, 67 kg)
Saturday, January 28
Men's freestyle (60 kg, 66 kg), Women's freestyle (48 kg, 55 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg)
Sunday January 29
Men's freestyle (84 kg, 96 kg, 120 kg)
Yarygin Memorial gold medalists from the USA in men's freestyle
(Named Krasnoyarsk Tournament through 1993, then named in honor of late Ivan Yarygin)
1990 - Jim Scherr (198); 1991 - Dave Schultz (163); 1991 - Chris Campbell (198); 1992 - Kendall Cross (125.5); 1993 - Tom Brands (136.5); 1993 - Kurt Angle (220); 1998 - Lincoln McIlravy (152); 2005 - Joe Williams (163); 2005 - Daniel Cormier (211.5); 2009 - Steve Mocco (264.5)