BRISTOL, Tenn. – When the Lady Tornado completed their collegiate season with a runner-up finish at the 2012 WCWA National Championships the proverbial foot was never removed from the gas pedal. Instead, the entire team kept pushing deeper and deeper into the international competitive season. Now, three members of the King women's wrestling team and their head coach find themselves in Pattaya, Thailand competing for the United States Junior Worlds National Team against some of the toughest competition in the world.
As a result of their performances at the Body Bar Wrestling Championships held in Lakeland, Fla. on May 13, Alli Ragan (Carbondale, Ill.), Sarah Hildebrandt (Granger, Ind.), and Julia Salata (Canton, Mich.) all qualified for the U.S. Junior World team by winning gold medals. Ragan is now making her second appearance in World Junior competition after a bronze medal performance at the 2011 tournament held in Bucarest, Romania.
Though the three wrestlers will be doing most of the physical work during the trip to Thailand, they are not the only King representatives impacting the U.S. team. Lady Tornado head coach Jason Moorman has taken on a role on the U.S. women's team coaching staff to help add to the medal collection for both Ragan and the entire team.
"This is big time," said Coach Moorman. "[the] Junior Worlds [tournament] is full of future World Team members and Olympians. This is a very important competition and medaling here is a big deal."
Unlike Ragan, this is Moorman's first time making the trip with the U.S. Junior Worlds team after being selected to join the staff shortly after this year's Body Bar National Championship. He will assist Terry Steiner, National Team head coach for the United States, in the operations for the women's squad. Despite this being his first time as a coach to the team, Moorman has been preparing himself and his team for this tournament.Though each team member's journey began from a different location, Moorman's started with a 13-hour flight from Atlanta, Ga. to Tokyo, Japan followed by a second seven-hour passage inland to Bangkok, Thailand. After arriving and getting situated to a 10-hour time zone difference in comparison to northeast Tennessee, it was time to get to work.
"We did a morning workout outside with sprints and agilities just to get the flight out of our system and to get moving. We got up early and did some short, light workouts. Then we went to the arena for a workout and followed with some cardio and lifting in the evening," said Moorman.
Nine representatives are the process of representing the United States under Moorman's watch. Four divisions have already completed their competition with one medal going to the Red, White, and Blue. Erin Golston (Lake in the Woods, Ill./USOEC) took bronze in the 44 kg/97 lbs. division for the country's first medal of the tournament, but with all three King wrestlers awaiting to take the mat on Friday there may be more being brought back across the pond.
Junior Alli Ragan (63 kg), a returning bronze medalist from a year ago, is set to take on Laura Gavriliuc of last year's host site, Romania. Gavriliuc placed fifth at last year's competition.
Sophomore Julia Salata has a chance to knock off the defending Junior World bronze medalist in the 72 kg division. She will wrestle Elmira Syzdykova of Kazakhstan, the current Asian Junior champion.
King's final representative, Sarah Hildebrandt (55 kg), will take on Elena Turcan of Moldova. Turcan was the European Junior bronze medalist and was 12th at last year's Junior World Championships at 51 kg/112 lbs.
Coverage of the event can best be followed either through TheMat.com and USA Wrestling contributor Jason Bryant or through the official FILA website, www.fila-official.com. Click here for a direct link to all of the Junior World Championship brackets and results. Action will resume, Friday, Sept. 7.
"It has been great to be here this time with Alli and support her, Sarah [Hildebrandt], and Julia [Salata] in their run to medal here. It is incredibly exciting and I have high hopes for all of them."