Three past World Champions qualify for U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

Three past World Champions claimed spots on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in freestyle wrestling with victories at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling in Dallas, Texas, June 24.    1996 Olympian Melvin Douglas, (Mesa, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) made his second straight U.S. Olympic team, with a two match sweep over Dominic Black (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) at 213.75 pounds. Douglas scored an impressive 10-0 technical fall over Black in the first match. Black was injured in the first match, and was unable to compete in the second match, losing by injury default. Douglas was seventh at the 1996 Olympics at 198 pounds and was a 1993 World Champion.    Two other past World Champions won their finals series to qualify for their first U.S. Olympic Team: Sammie Henson (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) at 119 pounds and Terry Brands (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye) at 127.75 pounds.    Henson, a 1998 World Champion, scored a two-match sweep over Eric Akin (Overland Park, Kan./Dave Schultz WC). Henson won the first bout, 4-2 then scored a 3-2, overtime win at 8:53 in the second match. For Akin, it was the second straight time in his career that he placed second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.    Brands, who won World titles in 1993 and 1995, won in two fiercely contested overtime matches against 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Kerry Boumans (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC). Brands won the first match, 3-2 at 8:14, and came back to take the second match, 5-2 at 8:55. Brands had returned to competition this week after a year away from the sport. Brands was second to eventual Olympic champion Kendall Cross at the 1996 Olympic Team Trials. Brands was also the only Challenge Tournament champion to win his series and qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in freestyle.    Two-time World medalists Cary Kolat (Morgantown, W.Va./Dave Schultz WC) at 138.75 pounds and Lincoln McIlravy (Iowa City, Iowa/Gateway WC) at 152 pounds also won two-match sweeps to qualify for their first U.S. Olympic Team.    Kolat defeated Bill Zadick (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye), 4-1 and 3-0 to claim his Olympic team berth. Kolat was second in the 1997 World Championships and third at the 1998 World Championships.    McIlravy defeated long-time rival Chris Bono (Gilbert, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) with a pair of shutout victories 3-0 and 4-0. McIlravy claimed a silver medal at the 1999 World Championships and a bronze medal at the 1998 World Championships.    A reigning World Champion was defeated at 286 pounds, when 2000 U.S. Nationals champion Kerry McCoy (State College, Pa./New York AC) beat 1999 World Champion Stephen Neal (Bakersfield, Calif./Dave Schultz WC) in two straight matches. McCoy won the first match, 4-1, then came back with a 6-4 victory in match two. McCoy, who was fourth in the 1998 World Championships, defeated Neal in the finals at the 2000 U.S. Nationals.    Seven spots on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team were determined in Dallas, and all were two-match sweeps. At 167.5 pounds, Brandon Slay (Colorado Springs, Colo./Dave Schultz WC) stopped Brian Dolph, Ridley Park, Pa./Dave Schultz WC), 5-2 and 3-1. Slay, who grew up in Amarillo, Texas and has family in Dallas, is believed to be the first Texas native to make a U.S. Olympic Team in wrestling. Dolph was an assistant coach and workout partner for Slay for four years when Slay attended the Univ. of Pennsylvania.    No Olympian was determined at 187.25 pounds, because, due to injury, 2000 National champion Les Gutches (Corvallis, Ore./Sunkist Kids) has received an extension on his Championship series until a time and date to be determined against the winner of  Saturday's series.    Charles Burton (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) won the series for the right to face Gutches later this summer. He beat Lee Fullhart (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) in three matches. Fullhart won the first match 3-2 in overtime in 8:31, but Burton won the next matches 3-2 and 3-0. The Special Wrestle-off between Burton and Gutches is expected to be held in late July, with final information to come.