Dlagnev, Provisor earn Olympic wrestling berths
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Wrestlers Tervel Dlagnev, Ben Provisor and Elena Pirozhkova secured trips to the Rio Olympics with wins Saturday at the U.S. Team Trials.
Dlagnev beat Zach Rey twice in a best-of-three finals series at freestyle heavyweight to earn his second berth in the Olympic Games.
Provisor pinned Jacob Clark in the finals to earn the U.S. spot for Rio at 85 kilograms in the Greco-Roman discipline.
Pirozhkova, who represented the U.S. at the London Games in 2012, pinned Erin Clodgo in the second match of the finals at women's 63 kilograms.
Frank Molinaro (65 kilograms freestyle), Jesse Thielke (Greco-Roman 59 kilograms), RaVaughan Perkins (66 kilograms Greco-Roman), Josef Rau (Greco-Roman 98 kilograms), Kelsey Campbell (women's 58 kilograms) and Tamyra Mensah (women's 69 kilograms) also won U.S. team spots Saturday.
But since the Americans haven't qualified for Olympic spots in those six weight classes, they'll have to place high enough in upcoming last-chance events in either Mongolia or Turkey to earn a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
The trials conclude Sunday, when Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and fellow stars Kyle Snyder and Adeline Gray seek to secure Olympic bids.
Dlagnev's victory capped a painful week that left his international career in doubt.
Dlagnev felt what he said was a ''really weird and scary pain'' in his back and legs during a sauna session Thursday. Dlagnev considered not even competing in the trials - but the pain never came back.
Dlagnev then found himself down 3-1 late in the final period of his second finals match against Zach Rey, before rallying with a pair of takedowns to win yet another domestic title.
Should Dlagnev's back hold up, he'll be considered a medal contender at the Olympics after placing fifth in the London Games.
''I was pretty depleted. So this is pretty cool,'' Dlagnev said.
The normally stoic Provisor ran to the edge of the floor and screamed to the crowd after getting Clark on his back for good.
Provisor had surgeries to his back, elbow and hamstring and to repair a sports hernia since failing to place in the London Olympics in 2012 and only returned to full health about two months ago.
''It's been a long time since I've been able to be 100 percent,'' Provisor said. ''It's been a long road to get back here.''
Pirozhkova won world gold, silver and bronze medals after a disappointing showing four years ago in London and will likely push for a podium finish in Rio.
''The first time around I was shell-shocked from the whole experience,'' Pirozhkova said. ''This time people are like `Oh, it's so awesome.' I'm like `All right, out of the way. Let's prepare for Rio.'''
The qualification round was highlighted by the 65-kilogram freestyle class, which produced a series of upsets ranging from mild to stunning.
Brent Metcalf, the top-ranked freestyle American at 65 kilograms, was toppled by Molinaro 3-3 on criteria in the quarterfinals.
Molinaro was the first American in three years to take out Metcalf.
''The toughest thing for was letting down the crowd, family supporters and really the country. I do believe I'm the best guy,'' said an emotional Metcalf. ''Obviously a lot of things went haywire in that weight class.''
Molinaro rallied to beat Aaron Pico, 19, in the final two rounds of the finals. Molinaro's prize will be a trip to Mongolia in two weeks, where he'll attempt to qualify himself and his country at his weight class.
Two-time Greco-Roman Olympian Spenser Mango (59 kilograms) called it a career after losing in the semifinals.
Mango, ranked second in his class, took off his shoes and placed them on the mat, the universal symbol for retirement in the sport.
Mango had represented the U.S. in every world and Olympic tournament since 2008.