Women's Freestyle Wrestling Team Records Sweep

Aug. 6, 2003

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - The U.S. women'sfreestyle wrestlingteam entered the Pan American Games competition with hopes ofsweeping thefour gold medals.

When the dust had settled, that mission had been accomplishedin possiblythe most dominating performance by a U.S. women's wrestlingteam since itwon the 1999 World team title.

Gold medals were won by Stanford's Patricia Miranda (ColoradoSprings, Colo./DaveSchultz WC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Tina George (Colorado Springs,Colo./U.S.Army) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Sara McMann (Colorado Springs,Colo./Sunkist Kids)at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland,Ohio/CumberlandCollege) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

Miranda, George and Montgomery are all World silver medalists.

'Our girls are really honed,' stated Tricia Saunders, a gold medalwinnerfor that 1999 World Championship team and head coach of thePan AmericanGames team. 'I am not surprised we did this, but it was achallenge as well.Three of these women lost to their opponents at the Pan AmChampionships,but they came back and really dominated.'

'They have always had the talent, but its about putting it togetheron thesame day, and that's what they did here,' Saunders added.

Miranda got the ball rolling for the U.S. squad - literally. Shedominatedthe action, using a front headlock throughout the entire first periodtogain position against Canada's Lyndsay Belisle.

Leading 4-0 in the second period, Miranda used that frontheadlock to fake ashot and lock a cradle, earning a pin at the 4:08 mark.

'Terry told me at the halfway point that when she grabs at myhands and armsto give her a yank and go to the leg. When I did that, I had anopening forthe cradle and took it,' Miranda said.

The win was also monumental as Miranda became the first-evergold medalistfor women's wrestling at the Pan American Games.

'I feel like the luckiest person alive,' she said in Disney World-likefashion.

Following Miranda's win was George, who had a 4-1 semifinal winover MarciaAndrades of Venezuela at the beginning of the session.

In the finals, George held on for a 4-3 victory over Tonya Verbeek ofCanada, an opponent George had defeated in pool competition aswell.

Verbeek opened the scoring in the match with a takedown and aone-pointankle lace for a 2-0 advantage. George tied the score in thesecond periodwith her second takedown, and a two-point gut wrench put her up4-2 on theCanadian. Verbeek later forced a fleeing the mat call againstGeorge, butwas unable to muster any more offense.

'I realized at the halfway point that I didn't want to give that matchaway.I didn't come out with the intensity that I usually like to show.Sometimesyour best isn't good enough, but I felt like mine was,' an emotionGeorgesaid after the win.

'So many people in my Army unit have supported me and I wantedto giveeverything I had for them,' she added.

McMann wasted no time in taking control of her match againstViola Yanik ofCanada, scoring six points in the first period and earning a pin atthe 3:24mark.

McMann felt that her success in the gold-medal match, along withthe successof the other U.S. champions, is a direct result of the Women'sFreestyleResident Program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in ColoradoSprings,Colo.

'(USA Wrestling National Women's Coach) Terry Steiner hashelped me on mydefense so much. Everybody has improved since Terry has comein. We all takeadvantage of what he knows,' she said.

Montgomery finished the sweep with a first-period pin of OhenewaAkuffo ofCanada at the 1:19 mark. Akuffo had gained a 2-0 lead with twotakedowns,but Montgomery refused to back down to the woman who haddefeated her inJuly.

'I was confident. We had wrestled five times this year before thismatch,and in two of them she had at least a two or three-point lead,'Montgomerysaid. 'When I'm down, I don't get nervous.'

The U.S. placed first in the team race, followed by Canada andVenezuela.

The U.S. Women's Freestyle Team will now prepare for the WorldChampionshipswhich will be held at New York City's Madison Square Garden,Sept. 12-14.

For complete coverage, bio information and results of the PanAmerican Gameswrestling competitions, log in towww.themat.com/specialevents/2003/PanAm/default.asp .

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