All-Army Female Wrestlers Shine at U.S. National Championships
All-Army wrestler First Lt. Leigh Jaynes (top) posts a 5-1, 7-2 victory over Erin Tomeo of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in the women's 130-pound freestyle finale of the 2007 U.S. National Wrestling Championships April 6 at Las Vegas Convention Center. First Lt. Jaynes qualified for the U.S. World Team Trials, scheduled for June 9-10 in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (Army News Service, April 1, 2007) - First Lt. Leigh Jaynes won the women's 130-pound freestyle title to lead three female Soldiers competing in the 2007 U.S. National Wrestling Championships April 6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

A four-year National Guard veteran, Jaynes won the national crown with a 5-1, 7-2 decision over Erin Tomeo of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club.

Two other All-Army wrestlers reached the women's finals and finished second in their respective weight classes. Two-time world silver medalist Sgt. Tina George of the Army World Class Athlete Program lost a 6-0, 4-1 decision to Marcie Van Dusen of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in the 121-pound division.

WCAP Sgt. Iris Smith, a 2005 world champion, got pinned 44 seconds into the second period by Kristie Marano of New York Athletic Club in the 158.5-pound division.

All three of the Army's female freestyle wrestlers qualified for the U.S. World Team Trials, scheduled for June 9-10 at Las Vegas.

In her championship match, First Lt. Jaynes almost pinned Ms. Tomeo en route to winning the first period, 5-1.

"I knew from the first two matches I wrestled today that the officials were going to be hard on calling pins," First Lt. Jaynes said. "I had to really work to get her shoulder really, really flat if I was going to pin her, and it wasn't to their standards."

First Lt. Jaynes managed a three-point throw in the second period, which she won 7-2 to secure the victory.

"I knew she was going to come out swinging," First Lt. Jaynes said. "I didn't expect anything less from Erin; she's a tremendous wrestler. I wanted to slow her down a little bit and see if I could look for an opening to score big points and maintain good position."

By winning the national crown, First Lt. Jaynes put herself in a favorable position to become the newest member of the Army's WCAP.

WCAP Commander Capt. Dominic Black told her before the tournament that winning a national championship would help meet the criteria needed to become a WCAP wrestler.

"She's a national champion," Capt. Black said afterward. "She's earned the right to be in WCAP."

First Lt. Jaynes, 26, of Mount Holly, N.J., was a combat medic with the 325th Field Hospital in Independence, Mo., before being commissioned while working on a master's degree. She now serves the 5502nd U.S. Army Hospital in Aurora, Colo., and lives and trains as a wrestler at the Olympic Training Center.

"My unit has been so awesome in supporting me in my wrestling career," she said. "They let me go anytime I need to go and they don't really ask too many questions. When I told them I wanted to put in my All-Army packet, they said 'go for it, we're behind you.' Now we're going to put in a WCAP packet and see if it goes through."

"I would love to have her on the World Class Athlete Program team," said Staff Sgt. Duaine Martin, a former WCAP wrestler who on March 1 began coaching the Army's female wrestlers. "She's been at the All-Army camp since February and she's been improving just in those two months. I know with more time that she'll be even better."

(Mr. Tim Hipps writes for the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)

Page last updated Thu April 19th, 2007 at 09:35