By Robert Dozier , U.S. Army Installation Management CommandDecember 28, 2015
FORT SAM HOUSTON (Dec. 21, 2015) -- U.S. Army athletes won the team trophy for the 12th consecutive year during the U.S. Senior Nationals/Trials Qualifier in Las Vegas, showing the world they will be strong contenders at the upcoming U.S. Wrestling Olympic team trials.
Soldier-athletes from the Army's World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, part of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, competed as individuals and together won the title with 67 points, beating runner-up New York Athletic Club by one point.
The Las Vegas competition serves as the U.S. National Championships and is the largest Olympic trials qualifying event for Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, where up to seven athletes in various weight classes can advance to the Olympic trials.
On the way to the team title, several WCAP Greco-Roman wrestlers won their individual weight classes, qualifying them to compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, April 9-10, 2016.
In the 59 kg/130 lbs. weight class, Spc. Ildar Hafizov won by medical default over teammate Sgt. Spenser Mango, securing his first-place trophy and advancing him to the Olympic trials. Mango still earned a berth at the Iowa trials with his second-place finish. His younger brother, third place Sgt. Ryan Mango, will be joining them in Iowa, along with fifth place Sgt. Max Nowry and sixth place Sgt. Jermaine Hodge.
In the Greco-Roman 66 kg/145.5 lbs. weight class, Spc. Ellis Coleman defeated Patrick Smith of Minneapolis, with a score of 4-2 to earn his first-place trophy.
Other results in Greco-Roman include a third-place finish at 75 kg/165 lbs. for Sgt. Justin Lester; a fourth-place finish at 85 kg/187 lbs. for Sgt. Lucas Sheridan; and a second-place finish at 98 kg/215 lbs. for Sgt. Caylor Williams - all part of the Colorado Springs, Colo., WCAP team.
Army Soldiers competed in all three Olympic styles including Greco-Roman; and Women's and Men's Freestyle.
In Women's Freestyle, WCAP athlete finisher Sgt. Sharon Jacobson scored for fifth place at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. and will advance to the Olympic trials. 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Sgt. Randi Miller finished second at 69 kg/152 lbs; and 2015 World bronze medalist Capt. Leigh Jaynes-Provisor finished seventh at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
At the time of the tournament, there were several Army athletes who had already met qualifying standards for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. These athletes were not required to compete in Las Vegas.
In Women's Freestyle, 2005 World champion Staff Sgt. Iris Smith at 75 kg/165 lbs. and in Greco-Roman, Capt. John Anderson at 85 kg/187 lbs. are among the pre-trials qualifiers scheduled to go to Iowa.
WCAP Soldiers provide a positive impact on the Army's mission. Along with other Olympic-caliber athletes such as boxers and taekwondo athletes, these Soldiers assist with instructing in the Modern Army Combative program. They have also provided thousands of potential leads to Army recruiters by sharing their Olympic stories and promoting the Army in high schools and colleges during Total Army Involvement-in-Recruiting missions. WCAP Soldiers have gone on to become recruiters, drill sergeants, and members of the Rangers and special forces.