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Northern Michigan University-affiliated wrestlers do well at US Olympic Trials

Northern Michigan University National Training Site wrestler Jesse Porter, top, puts a hold on the U.S. National Team’s Pat Smith during a Greco-Roman bout at the U.S. Olympic Trials held in Fort Worth, Texas, over the weekend. (Larry Slater photo courtesy NMU National Training Site)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Multiple current and former Northern Michigan University-affiliated wrestlers did well at the U.S. Olympic Trials that concluded on Saturday evening.

Some 25 current and former athletes from the National Training Site, Olympic Training Site and U.S. Olympic Education Center qualified to compete, the highest number from any university, according to an NMU National Training Site news release.

In Greco-Roman wrestling, that includes four current wrestlers, seven graduates and 11 former Greco-Roman wrestlers. There were also three former women’s freestyle wrestlers at the trials.

NMU graduate and current Wildcats graduate student Jesse Porter earned the Greco-Roman trials title at 77 kilograms (169.8 pounds), winning him a spot on the U.S. team and also the No. 1 ranking on USA Wrestling’s National Team.

Northern junior Benjamin Peak came all the way from being seeded No. 11 out of 12 wrestlers to finish as runner-up at 67 kg (147.7 lbs.) in Greco-Roman to earn the third and final spot on USA Wrestling’s National Team.

American Helen Maroulis, at left in blue, competes against Japan's Saori Yoshida for the gold medal in the women's 53-kilogram freestyle wrestling competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 18, 2016. (AP file photo)

Other current NMU Greco-Roman wrestlers competing were junior Alston Nutter at 67 kg along with Austin Morrow at 77 kg.

Former USOEC women wrestlers Helen Maroulis at 57 kg (125.7 lbs.) and Adeline Gray at 76 kg (167.6 lbs.) both made the Olympics by winning their freestyle divisions.

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Porter wins 4 matchups

Despite making the U.S. team, Porter is one of just three among the 18 U.S. trials champions that hasn’t clinched a spot in the Olympics yet. That’s because his weight division hadn’t done that clinching, meaning he will have to finish first or second in a May 6-9 world qualifier in Bulgaria.

That can’t dampen his victory in Texas, though. Porter, seeded No. 10 for the trials, started with a 6-0 win over NMU graduate Corey Hope of the New York Athletic Club, then won 10-0 over NYAC’s RaVaughn Perkins before adding a 5-3 victory over No. 3 seed and National Team member Pat Smith of the Minnesota Storm.

That put Porter in the best-of-3 championship match against Peyton Walsh of the U.S. Marines. Porter won the opener 8-1, then another victory on a tiebreaker after a 7-7 score in their second match.

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Peak works his way up

Peak, who also wrestles out of the Sunkist Wrestling Club, opened with 9-0, 8-0 and 9-0 victories to earn a spot in the tournament final. That’s where he lost to former NMU athlete and 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman of the U.S. Army 7-3.

Peak then faced the U.S. Marines’ Xavier Johnson, the third-place finisher, since they hadn’t met in earlier rounds. Peak dominated that bout with a 9-1 win and runner-up finish at the trials.

Nutter, Morrow had mixed success

Nutter of Sunkist WC opened with a 12-9 win over NYAC’s Peyton Omania before losing to Coleman 6-0. In the consolation bracket, he lost to NYAC’s Nolan Baker 8-0.

Morrow opened with a 3-2 win over Brandon Mueller of 505 Wrestling Club before losing to NMU grad Jake Fisher of Curby Wrestling Club 6-5. In the consolation, Morrow defeated Hope 14-3 before losing to Smith by fall.

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Maroulis, Gray to return

Maroulis, the first American woman to win gold in wrestling, made a second straight Olympics with a hard-earned win over Jenna Burkert. They split the first two bouts and Maroulis got a quick pin in the third.

“I made a commitment the day after the 2016 Olympics, prayed about it, and I felt I’m supposed to do another quad,” said Maroulis, who overcame concussion issues and other injuries to win at the trials. “There were times I felt I had to retire. I said I can’t make that decision until Tokyo 2020. I’m so blessed I get to do this.”

Five-time world champion Gray beat 17-year-old Kylie Welker in her final and will be in her second straight Olympics. Welker made a surprising run to the finals as the 14th-seeded wrestler.

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Other trials wrestlers

One of the most closely watched rivalries in Fort Worth was the 74 kg (163.1 lb.) men’s freestyle finals on Saturday night.

Kyle Dake ended Jordan Burroughs’ decade of dominance, making the Olympics for the first time with a sweep in their finals matchup.

Dake posted 3-0 and 3-2 decisions over the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion who became the face of the sport in the U.S.

In another men’s freestyle division, Kyle Snyder will defend his gold medal at 97 kg (213.8 lbs.) after 10-0 and 5-1 wins over Kollin Moore. As a 20-year-old in 2016, Snyder became the youngest American wrestler to win Olympic gold.

Burroughs, 32, had represented the U.S. at the world championships or Olympics every year since 2011.

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and twitter. com/AP_Sports

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