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Grappling for gold

Triplett 2nd at freestyle nationals; Smith finishes 13th

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Grappling for gold

Trevor Smith breaks down Lathrop’s Wilmer Alvarez in a non-league dual for Ripon High on Dec. 7, 2010.


POSTED July 26, 2011 12:55 a.m.

Trevor Smith and Juliana Triplett of the Ripon Tribe Wrestling Club fell short of their goals at the ASICA/Vaughan Junior & Cadet National Championships this past week.

But neither came away too disappointed.

Triplett — a standout in the high school girls circuit for Ripon High — earned a second-place finish in the 172-pound junior women’s freestyle division and helped an all-California contingent capture the team duals championship at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D.

Smith, meanwhile, missed the cut for All-America honors in the 171-pound cadet freestyle division, but barely. He finished tied for 13th place out of a 48-man pool. The top eight placers are All-Americans.

For Triplett, the experience was rewarding overall. On top of improving on her sixth-place finish from a year ago, she was chosen to be a part California’s ‘A’ team and coached by former Team USA member Marci Van Dusen.

“It was a really fun experience,” Triplett said. “I got to be coached by an Olympian and national champion and learned a lot.”

In individual competition on July 19, Triplett pinned Ashley Miles of Texas in 42 seconds before losing to eventual champion Kim Speigel, 3-4, 0-2.

“(Speigel) was tough,” Triplett said. “I was told that she was going to be a defensive wrestler who just stands there and counters, and that’s exactly what she did. I took a few good shots but didn’t finish them correctly. It was just a few mental errors that I made.”

Triplett attributes her one loss in dual competition to an emotional error.

On Thursday against the Texas ‘A’ squad, Miles got her rematch against Triplett, who dominated the first round, 7-0. But emotions got the best of her in the second, as she took a stunning loss via a 56-second pinfall.

“She cross-faced me really hard a few times, and I felt that was unnecessary,” Triplett said. “I just lost it. I could have beaten her again easily, I just let my emotions take over.”

The loss didn’t cost her team, though, as California ‘A’ prevailed 29-26 for the team title. Against Washington, Team California won, 29-26. In that dual, Triplett pinned Alanna Alegria in 42 seconds.

Triplett plans on taking the rest of the summer off from the mat and will join Ripon High’s cross country team to help her drop weight for her senior campaign. Last year, she made history when she among the first 14 to garner a California Interscholastic Federation Girls State Championships title, doing so at 165-pounds.

Smith competed later in the week and returned home Monday after an all-night trip.

The reigning Trans Valley League champ at 171 pounds for Ripon High called his first appearance in the freestyle nationals “one of the most draining (events) I’ve ever been a part of.”

Smith went 3-2, winning his first three matches before dropping his next two. He notched decision victories over Maryland’s Michael Wilkerson (1-0, 3-0), Ohio’s Taylor Workman (2-1, 1-5, 5-0) and Idaho’s Logan Blackwood (4-0, 7-0).

Smith suffered his first loss to Will Balow of Minnesota — 3-0, 0-1, 1-2 — after taking the first round in commanding fashion. He was ultimately knocked out of top-eight contention by Raymond O’Donnell of Pennsylvania, who stopped the incoming Ripon High junior in 36 seconds en route to placing fifth in the tournament.

“I’m happy that I actually got to be there and compete — it was a great opportunity,” Smith said. “I’m kind of in the middle about how I did. I don’t think I should have lost my fourth match.”

Smith qualified to nationals by taking second in the state tournament in Fresno back in May. There, he lost to Immanuel Barber of Canyon Springs in a three-round decision (1-4, 1-1, 1-2), and Barber ended up seventh in nationals.

Barber bested Smith again at the West Cadet Regional in Pocatello, Idaho in the championship round.

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