LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team Trials proved to be a learning experience for Brad Pataky of Clearfield.
The New York Athletic Club lightweight, one of the youngest competitors in the trials, dominated the takedown battles in both of his Challenge Tournament matches at 55 kilograms/121 pounds in the Thomas and Mack Center Saturday.
However, he couldn\’t match the mat savvy of ex-Penn State matman Adam Smith (NYAC) of State College and Grant Nakamura (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club) of Branson, Mo.
Pataky, who qualified by winning the Northeast Regional and University Nationals championships and was seeded ninth, outpointed Smith 5-1 in the first period and was ahead 2-1 in the second period when the eighth seed countered his offensive move for a pin at 1:38.
\”I just made a mistake,\” Pataky explained. \”I went to hit a gut-wrench and should have stopped. Instead, I kept going for it, and he stepped over and pinned me.\”
Pataky had two takedowns, turned Smith with a gut-wrench for two points and pushed him out of bounds for another point before giving up a late reversal in the first period.
All of the points prior to the fall in the second period came on takedowns.
In freestyle wrestling, takedowns and reversals are worth one point apiece. A pin is signaled as soon as a wrestler\’s shoulder blades touch the mat as opposed to a longer count in folkstyle.
Both wrestlers were PIAA champions, Pataky for Clearfield Area High School in Class AAA and Smith for Newport High School in Class AA. Smith went on to be a four-year regular with a career record of 88-61 at Penn State. He was a three-time NCAA qualifier by placing seventh, eighth and fourth in Big Ten tourneys.
Pataky also led in both periods of his second-round consolation bout with the seventh-seeded Nakamura, but the 2001 Hawaii state champ who was a three-time NCAA qualifier at 125 for Iowa State came back to win 4-2, 5-1.
Following Pataky\’s second takedown of the first period, Nakamura reversed and turned him twice.
In the second period, Pataky engineered another takedown, but Nakamura came off the bottom with a reversal and again turned him two times.
\”It was an honor to be here and was a great experience, but I didn\’t accomplish what I wanted to do,\” Pataky said. \”I wish I would have wrestled a little smarter.\”
Before returning to the Penn State mat team as a red-shirt sophomore in the fall, Pataky will compete in the Canada Cup Saturday at Guelph, Ontario, and for the U.S. freestyle team in the 8th World University Championships July 9-13 at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.
He said competing against opponents on the senior division level of international wrestling his Olympic red-shirt year has made him a more aggressive, and at the same time, more patient wrestler.
After beating Pataky, Smith lost 3-0, 3-0 to top seed Matt Azevedo (Sunkist Kids WC) of Arroyo Grande, Calif., and 2-0, 2-1 to 10th seed Angel Escobedo (Indiana WC) of Griffith, Ind.
Nakamura had beaten 2008 NCAA champion Escobedo 0-1, 2-2, 3-2 and lost to No. 2 seed Henry Cejudo (Sunkist Kids WC) of Colorado Springs, Colo., 5-0, 6-1 before meeting Pataky. In the consolation quarterfinals, Nakamura was defeated by sixth-seeded Vic Moreno (Gator WC) of Stanford, Calif., 6-0, 2-1.
Cejudo, a 21-year-old with two U.S. Nationals (2006, 2007) crowns, earned the berth on the U.S. Olympic Team with a three-match victory over 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas (Sunkist Kids) of Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cejudo took the first bout 3-2, 4-0, lost the second 2-0, 6-3, and came back to win the third 0-1, 3-0, 3-0.
Other member of the U.S. freestyle team will be Doug Schwab (Gator WC) of Iowa City, Iowa, at 66 kg/145 pounds, Ben Asken (Sunkist Kids) of Columbia, Mo., at 74 kg/163 pounds, Andy Hrovat (New York AC) of Ann Arbor, Mich., at 84 kg/185 pounds, Daniel Cormier (Gator WC) of Stillwater, Okla., at 96 kg/211.5 pounds and Steve Mocco (New York AC) of Colorado Springs at 120 kg/264 pounds.
Mike Zadick (Gator WC) of Solon, Iowa, was the champ at 60 kg/132 pounds, but the United States did not qualify for the Olympics at that weight. He will get a shot at Olympic gold only if a rare wildcard is granted to the U.S. for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China in August.