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U.S. freestyle wrestlers to compete in the Takhti Cup in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 19-20

By John Fuller, USA Wrestling &

A team of U.S. men's freestyle wrestlers will compete at the 2004 Takhti Cup in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 19-20.

Leading the U.S. squad to the tournament will be 2000 Olympic silver medalist and 1998 World champion Sammie Henson (West Point, N.Y./Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Henson is a popular athlete in Iran, having won his World gold medal when the 1998 World Championships were held in Tehran, Iran.

The Takhti Cup will serve as Henson's first competition since he won the Dave Schultz Memorial International in 2003. He is currently an assistant coach at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Also on the U.S. roster are U.S. National Team members Mike Mena (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Joe Heskett (Grover Beach, Calif./Gator WC) at 74 kg/163 lbs.

Mena placed second at the 2003 U.S. World Team Trials and has placed fourth at the U.S. Nationals three times. He is currently an assistant coach at Indiana Univ.

Heskett placed second in the 2003 U.S. Nationals and 2003 U.S. World Team Trials. He is a three-time champion of the Sunkist Kids International Open and was recently named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Dave Schultz Memorial International. Heskett is an assistant coach at Cal Poly.

Rounding out the U.S. team are Yero Washington (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 60 kg/132 lbs. and Ramico Blackmon (Colorado Springs, Colo./Team Excel) at 74 kg/163 lbs.

Washington placed fifth in the 2003 U.S. World Team Trials and has placed fourth at the U.S. Nationals twice (2000 and 2003). He placed second in the 2003 NYAC Christmas International and 2003 Sunkist Kids International Open.

Blackmon won a U.S. Nationals title in 2001 and placed third at the U.S. World Team Trials that same year. He recently won the 2003 Sunkist Kids International Open and placed second at the 2004 Dave Schultz Memorial International.

Both Washington and Blackmon are resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

John Peterson (Comstock, Wis.) will coach the U.S. team. Peterson was the assistant coach of the 1994 U.S. World Team, and has coached a number of U.S. Senior teams on international tours. He was an Olympic gold medalist in 1976, an Olympic silver medalist in 1972 and a two-time World medalist.

Serving as the U.S. team leader will be Amir Bashiri (Atlanta, Ga.), who served as a team leader for Iran at the 2003 Freestyle World Championships. Bashiri is an Iranian-American who is an active volunteer within USA Wrestling

This will be the fifth time that USA Wrestling has participated in the Takhti Cup, with U.S. teams participating in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003. The United States wrestling team was the first U.S. sports team to compete in Iran after the Iranian revolution when the team competed in the 1998 Takhti Cup. The U.S. also competed in the 1998 World Freestyle Championships held in Iran.

Teams from Iran have also competed in the United States on numerous occasions during the last decade. These sports competitions have been held even though there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The tournament was added to the 2004 Winter Tour schedule following the cancellation of the Dan Kolov International in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In 2003, Brian Keck (Cleveland, Ohio/New York AC) captured a bronze medal at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. for the United States at the Takhti Cup.

Takhti Cup at Tehran, Iran, Feb. 19-20

U.S. Roster
55 kg/121 lbs. - Sammie Henson, West Point, N.Y. (Sunkist Kids)
55 kg/121 lbs. - Mike Mena, Bloomington, Ind. (New York AC)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Yero Washington, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Ramico Blackmon, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Team Excel)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Joe Heskett, Grover Beach, Calif. (Gator WC)
Coach: John Peterson (Comstock, Wis.)
Team Leader: Amir Bashiri (Atlanta, Ga.)

... Payvand News - 2/11/04 ... --

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