HIGHLIGHTS: Seven world champs win at U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials; Chepngetich crushes women’s world Half Marathon mark

Kyle Dake (l) battles with 2012 Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs in the 74 kg finals at the USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials (Photo: Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world /updated/:

Wrestling ● USA Wrestling completed its Olympic selection process with a thrilling set of Olympic Team Trials matches over two days at the Dickies Arena in Ft. Worth, Texas. The result is a potentially outstanding team which includes two reigning Olympic champions and seven current or former World Champions.

The women’s Freestyle team alone will send four current or former World Champions to Tokyo:

53 kg: Jacarra Winchester, the 2019 55 kg World Champion
57 kg: Helen Maroulis, a two-time World Champion
68 kg: Tamyra Mensah-Stock, the 2019 68 kg World Champion
76 kg: Adeline Gray, a five-time World Champion

Maroulis is the reigning Olympic Champion at 53 kg, but has moved up one weight class for Tokyo.

Moreover, Sarah Hildebrandt (50 kg) is the 2018 Worlds silver medalist and Kayla Miracle, at 62 kg, was the 2019 World U-23 Championships silver medalist. Four of the six final bouts were straight-match wins for Hildebrandt, Winchester, Mensah-Stock and Gray by combined scores of 82-13. Maroulis won her first match against Jenna Burkert, 5-3, but lost in the second match by 6-5, forcing a final match in which Maroulis managed a pinfall in just 24 seconds. Miracle and Macey Kilty split their first two matches, but after a Miracle takedown to start the third match, Kilty was hurt and could not continue.

The men’s Freestyle finals also had plenty of drama, especially at 74 kg, where 2012 Olympic champ and 2016 bronze medalist Jordan Burroughs, 32, faced Kyle Dake, 30, the two-time World Champion at 79 kg. These two had been involved in many epic struggles and this was no different. But Dake had enough to win 3-0 and 3-2 and secure his first Olympic berth.

Rio’s 97 kg Olympic champ Kyle Snyder will get to defend his title after a 10-0, 5-1 victory over former Ohio State teammate Kollin Moore. Snyder has won two world titles at this weight and was the Worlds bronze medalist in 2019.

The 2018 World Champion at 86 kg, David Taylor, will also be going to Tokyo after defeating fellow Penn State alumnus Bo Nickal, 4-0 and 6-0.

Tom Gilman, the 2017 Worlds silver medalist at 57 kg, defeated Vitali Arujau to punch his Tokyo ticket and 20-year-old Gable Steveson – the 2017 World Junior Champion – upset two-time Worlds medalist Nick Gwiazdowski at 125 kg.

The U.S. did not qualify yet at 65 kg, but after a convincing win by Jordan Oliver over Joey McKenna, Oliver will get a chance to grab an Olympic berth in the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia (BUL) from 6-9 May.

The U.S. has not won an Olympic medal in Greco-Roman since 2008, but there are high hopes for the four Olympic nominees and two qualifiers from Saturday’s finals. The 2018 Worlds silver medalist at 130 kg, Adam Coon, defeated Cohlton Schultz to win the weight class, but will have to get to Tokyo through the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia next month.

At the lightest weight, 60 kg, Ildar Hafizov completed a remarkable return to the Olympic Games with a 7-0 and 8-0 win over Ryan Mango. Hafizov, now 33, competed for Uzbekistan in the 2008 Games in Beijing, then came to the U.S. and became a citizen and now will compete for the U.S.

Alejandro Sanchez (67 kg), John Stefanowicz (87 kg) and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg) also qualified for Tokyo, while Jessie Porter (77 kg) won his weight class, but will also have to qualify in Sofia for the Games.

Athletics ● Kenya’s reigning World Champion in the marathon, Ruth Chepngetich, smashed the world record in the Half Marathon, winning the women’s division of the Istanbul Half Marathon on Sunday in 1:04:02.

This was her third win in this race, and she was in a three-women race by 15 km with Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw and fellow Kenyan track and cross-country star Hellen Obiri. Chepngetich then broke free and won by 22 seconds over Yehualaw (1:04:23: no. 2 time ever) and by 49 seconds over Obiri (1:04:51: equal-fifth performer, equal-6th performance in history), who ran the fastest women’s debut Half ever! Chepngetich’s fastest Half had been 1:05:06 in November 2020.

Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie won the men’s Half in 59:35, a course record.

At the rainy and windy USATF Sprint Summit in Hollywood, Florida – a World Athletics Continental Tour silver event – 2018 U.S. 400 m hurdles champ Kenny Selmon won impressively in 48.89, his fifth-fastest ever and the world leader in the event for 2021.

American hammer star Brooke Andersen won her specialty at 74.86 m (245-7), a seasonal best and maintaining her spot as no. 3 on the world list for 2021.

At the Hayward Premiere meet in Eugene, Oregon soph sensation Cole Hocker – the NCAA Indoor mile and 3,000 m champion – had the top marks in the first meet in the new facility with wins in the 800 m (1:46.60) and 1,500 m (3:38.99).

Iowa State soph Wesley Kiptoo (KEN) won the men’s 10,000 m in 27:58.10 over college and country teammate Edwin Kurgat (27:58.33). BYU frosh Zach McWhorter won the men’s vault at 5.65 m (18-6 1/2).

Curling ● The 2021 men’s World Championships are underway– in a sequestered environment – in Calgary, Canada, with the 14 teams working through round-robin play, which began on Friday (2nd).

The early leaders include Norway (4-0), Canada (3-0), Switzerland (3-0) and Russia (3-0), with the U.S. – skipped by Olympic champion John Shuster – at 2-1. The top six teams will advance to the playoffs, beginning on 9 April. The semifinals and final will be held next weekend.

Cycling ● The spring Classics season continues unimpeded in Europe, with two of the famed races in Belgium highlighting the week.

31 March: At the 75th Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium, it was a runaway for Dutch rider Dylan van Baarle, 28, who scored his first UCI World Tour one-day-race win over the hilly, 184.1 km course from Roeselare to Waregem. He attacked on the eighth of the 13 climbs in the race – the Berg Ten Houte – with 52 km remaining and no one could stay with him. He cruised home 29 seconds ahead of runner-up Christophe Laporte (FRA).

4 April: The 105th running of the Tour of Flanders – Ronde van Vlaanderen – came down to a sprint between Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen, winner of the E3 Classic nine days before, and Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel at the line in Oudenaarde.

It was Asgreen the winner again by a narrow margin, for his third win in a World Tour race. He and van der Poel had freed themselves from 2016 Olympic champ Greg van Avermaet (BEL) with about 16 km to go in the 254.1 race, on the final climb up the Oude Kwaremont before heading to the finish. Asgreen had more power at the finish and had the race in hand in the final 50 m. Van Avermaet won the sprint for third, 32 seconds back.

4 April: Dutch superstar Annemiek van Vleuten is reaching peak form, winning her second consecutive race with a dominant performance in the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen for women, winning in a sensational 26 seconds over a six-rider chase pack led by German Lisa Brennauer and Australia’s Grace Brown.

Van Vleuten, 38, outsprinted Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma at the finish of the Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier in the week, but this time left no doubt, attacking 14 km from the finish of the 152 km route and sailing home with her second victory in this race after winning in 2011!

Coming up this week is the 60th running of the six-stage Itzulia Basque Country in Spain, with three prior winners in the field: Spanish stars Alejandro Valverde (won in 2017) and Ion Izagirre (2019) and Slovenian star Primoz Roglic (2018).

The UCI Women’s World Tour will continue on the 18th with the Amstel Gold Race in The Netherlands.

Golf ● The first major of the LPGA season, the ANA Inspiration, was conducted in 100-degree heat at Mission Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, but the play was just as hot.

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko started the day in seventh place, but shot a sensational, final-round, 10-under 62 to finish at 272 of 16 under par. But emerging Thai star Patty Tavatanakit, 21, continued – and concluded – a steady march to the title that began with a first-round 66 and followed with a 69, 67 and a Sunday round of four under par (68).

She finished at 270 and won by two strokes after entering the final round with a five-shot lead. It’s Tavatanakit’s first LPGA Tour victory, and in a major no less! There was a four-way tie for third for China’s Shanshan Feng, Sei Young Kim (KOR), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DEN) and American Nelly Korda at -11 (277). Kim, Madsen and Korda all moved up eight places on Sunday with 66s, the fourth-best rounds of the day.

Judo ● The Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey drew a crowd of 432 judokas from 91 countries, with wins for 12 countries, including two each for Italy and Japan.

Italy went 1-2 in the women’s 48 kg class with Francesca Milani defeating Francesca Giorda in the final, and Fabio Basile won the men’s 73 kg class. Japan got wins from two-time World Champion Hifumi Abe in the men’s 66 kg class and from two-time Worlds gold medalist Shori Hamada in the women’s 78 kg division.

There was one other single-country final, in the women’s 57 kg class, where Canadians Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait faced off, with 2019 World Champion Deguchi winning.

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