Coleman Scott Makes U.S. Olympic Team in Style

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Photo By Debby Wong, US Presswire

The path to London for Coleman Scott was not as easy as driving on straight and narrow Interstate 79 in Greene County Pennsylvania. No, there were far too many turns, inclines, declines and detours on his journey to London. It is a journey that began in Waynesburg, PA and came to an emotional end in New York’s Times Square as the sun set on Thursday night.

Coleman Scott’s qualification for the 2012 United States Olympic Team was unique and at times confusing. The 26-year-old NCAA Champion at Oklahoma State had to beat the entire field of competitors at 60 kg in order to earn his right to represent the United States in London. For Scott, the qualifying process began in June 2011 in Stillwater, Oklahoma at the 2011 World Team Trials. Wrestling at 60 kg, Scott placed 3rd at the World Team Trials, ironically behind Champion Reese Humphrey and runner-up Shawn Bunch. By placing 3rd at this event Coleman Scott qualified to compete in the 2012 Olympic Team Trials held in Iowa City, IA on April 21, 2012.

During the time between placing 3rd at the World Team Trials in June 2011 and participating in the Olympic Team Trials in April 2012 Scott competed in various International Freestyle events across the World. In November 2011 Scott placed 2nd at the NYAC Holiday International Open where he fell to Reece Humphrey in the finals at 60 kg. In February 2012 Coleman won the Dave Schultz Memorial International at 60 kg and was named the Tournament’s “Outstanding Wrestler.”

Then came the complicated portion of his journey: the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. At the time of the Olympic Team Trials the United States had not yet qualified the Freestyle 60 kg weight-class to compete in the Olympic Games. Therefore it was determined that 2011 World Team member Reese Humphrey and 2011 World Team Trials runner-up Shawn Bunch would skip the Olympic Team Trials and attempt to qualify the weight for Team USA in one of the last two qualifying tournaments. In the meantime, the 2012 Olympic Team Trials would continue for 60 kg, the catch however, the Olympic Team Trials Champion did not automatically earn a spot on the United State’s Olympic Team. In fact, if the United States failed to qualify the 60 kg weight-class then no USA wrestler at that weight would be heading to London. Therefore, the fate of 60 kg rested on Humphrey and/or Bunch.

At the 2012 Olympic Team Trials Coleman, in a field without Humphrey or Bunch, was now the favorite to win the Championship. He did just that. Defeating former NCAA Champion Matt Valenti in the semi-finals before defeating 2012 NCAA Champion and Ohio State redshirt freshman Logan Stieber in the Championship finals in two straight matches. It was a great accomplishment for the former Cowboy but unlike the rest of the Freestyle Division Champions, he wasn’t booking his flight to London just yet.

A week after the Olympic Team Trials Shawn Bunch flew to China where he would attempt to qualify the 60 kg weight for Team USA. Reese Humphrey had to pull out due to an injury. Bunch did his duty for the Country and placed 3rd, effectively qualifying the United States at 60 kg in Freestyle. Now it was time to determine who that representative would be. So we were left with three: 2011 World Team Member Reese Humphrey, 2012 Olympic Team Trials Champion Coleman Scott and US #2 ranked Shawn Bunch who qualified the weight. Due to the fact Bunch qualified the weight, he would receive an automatic spot in the finals of the three wrestler mini-challenge. That meant Scott and Humphrey would wrestle one match to determine who faced Bunch.

The wrestle-off to determine the final Olympic Team spot was held on Thursday June 7th at the Second Annual Beat the Streets “Grapple in the Apple” to be held in an outdoor venue constructed in New York City’s Times Square. The event featured a Freestyle match between Team USA and Team Russia. In a tense three period match Coleman Scott did what he had not done before, won two ball draws and defeated Humphrey by a score of (1-0, 0-1, 1-0). The victory set up a best-of-three-match series between Bunch and Scott. It was an unreal atmosphere for a wrestling match with the sun setting in the middle of Times Square. In the first match Coleman looked fresh and active as he won three period match (1-0, 0-1, 7-0). In the third period Scott exploded for a takedown and exposure points before ending the period by flipping over an aggressive Bunch to end it (7-0).

In the second match Scott won the first period (1-1) after scoring a takedown late but dropped the final two periods as Bunch won the ball draw in the second period and earned a push-out point to take the third period and the match (1-1, 1-0, 1-0). It would come down to one final match to determine who would be heading to London and who would stay back in the United States. In the first period of the final match Scott, wearing his lucky blue singlet, won the ball draw and earned the point for a (1-0) period win.  Scott was now one period away from making his first Olympic Team. In an entertaining flurry Scott got in on Bunch’s leg near the edge of the mat but Bunch defended the takedown and tried for exposure points but Scott elevated Bunch, returning him to the mat on his back. Originally the ref called it a three point move in favor of Scott but Bunch’s corner throws in the challenge brick. After reviewing the video replay the judges determine it was a five point move for Scott effectively ending the period and granting him the  series victory and a spot on the United States Olympic Team. It was a an emotional and intense end to a day that ended with Coleman Scott raising the Red, White, and Blue.

A teary eyed Scott was speechless following his performance in Times Square as he said the victory was for his daughter who birthday he missed a day earlier. The Pennsylvania native joins former WPIAL stand-out Jake Herbert as the Keystone State will be represented by two wrestlers in London.


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