Russell Captures U.S. Open Title, Incoming Wolverines Excel at FILA Juniors
April 22, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Former University of Michigan wrestling standout Kellen Russell used a third-period clinch to rally past Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver, 0-1, 2-2, 1-0, and capture the 66kg/145.5-pound title at the U.S. Open (April 18-20) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was the second freestyle championship for Russell but first in domestic competition. He entered the tournament unseeded.
After dropping the first period in the clinch, Russell claimed the final two periods to defeat Oliver in the championship match. He struck first on a quick pushout in the second frame but trailed by a point late after giving up an appreciation point on an Oliver throw attempt from a single-leg position on the mat and losing the subsequent challenge. He attacked on the restart, however, stealing the period with a pushout in the final 14 seconds. After just running out of time on a go behind at the buzzer, Russell pulled his color and converted in the clinch, returning Oliver hard to the mat to secure the takedown.
With the victory, Russell earned the automatic bid to the best-of-three championship series at the U.S. World Team Trials, scheduled for Friday-Saturday, June 21-22, in Stillwater, Okla.
Russell posted a 7-0 record en route to the title, outscoring his opposition in Thursday's challenge tournament, 36-2, before knocking off three seeded wrestlers in Friday's championship bracket. He opened the day with a second-period fall against No. 2-seeded Chase Pami. He dropped the first period, 2-1, but was leading 5-1 in the second after an early three-point takedown and gut wrench when he reversed Pami to his back for the pin at 1:02.
He cruised past Kyle Borshoff, 3-0, 7-0, in the quarterfinals before defeating third-seeded Adam Hall, 3-0, 5-2, on a combination of takedowns and pushouts in the semifinals. He scored on a go behind and a pair of pushouts in the first and two takedowns, including a counter off an early Hall headlock attempt, and two pushouts in the second.
The FILA Junior division featured three incoming Wolverines.
Ben Whitford captured freestyle outstanding wrestler accolades after posting a 6-0 record en route to the 60kg/132-pound title. He defeated four notable collegiate wrestlers, including Penn State Jimmy Gulibon, 3-1, 0-3, 4-2, in the championship match. He sealed the finals victory with a three-point takedown midway through the third period, defending a single-leg attack by tossing Gulibon to his back and adding an immediate pushout for another point.
Adam Coon reached the 120kg/264-pound championship match in both styles, capturing the Greco-Roman title while taking runner-up honors in the freestyle competition. He posted a 3-0 mark in the latter, earning a pair of pins before claiming a 4-2, 1-0 decision over former Ohio State wrestler Orry Elor in the final. He had a similar start in the freestyle division, opening the tournament with three straight pins, including a 14-second fall in the quarterfinals, before claiming 4-1, 4-1 decision over Oklahoma's Ross Larson in the semifinals. He dropped a 4-1, 4-0 decision in the championship match after giving up a three-point deficit early in each period.
Payne Hayden posted a 2-1 record en route to second place in the 84kg/185-pound Greco-Roman division, rallying to win each of his preliminary matches before falling to Indiana's Luke Sheridan, 3-0, 5-0, in the championship match. Hayden went 1-2 in the freestyle competition.
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