‘We’re not in control’: U.S. wrestlers finish Olympic qualifier amid uncertainty

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In one of the rare sporting events not canceled this past weekend, U.S. wrestlers competed Friday through Sunday at a Pan American Olympic qualifier in Ottawa, without spectators and with an uncertain future.

Canada’s wrestling federation, after consulting with local health authorities, said Friday that the tournament would go on with essential personnel and limited family members.

“It’s been a hard week for everyone, I think, in the wrestling world and the whole world,” U.S. women’s national team coach Terry Steiner said after all four American women qualified a quota spot for the nation on Saturday. “To be able to just keep your eye on and stay focused on the task at hand was very important. They had to be really mentally resilient.”

The roster included Helen Maroulis, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. Maroulis is coming back this year after a concussion and traumatic brain injuries sidelined her for all of 2019. And David Taylor, a 2018 World champion coming back from a May 5 ACL tear.

Maroulis, Taylor and nine others clinched Olympic quota spots that would under normal circumstances be filled at the U.S. Olympic Trials. On Friday, it was announced that the April 4-5 trials were postponed indefinitely.

“Organizers are working closely with local officials and health experts in hopes of rescheduling the event at [Penn State’s] Bryce Jordan Center,” according to USA Wrestling on Friday.

By Sunday night, after the Ottawa event finished, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended not holding gatherings of 50 or more people in the U.S. over the next eight weeks.

Steiner said after Saturday’s competition that he didn’t know “from minute to minute” whether the Pan Am event would happen.

“Just try to keep their minds on the things they could control instead of getting into everything else was very important, and they did a great job with that,” Steiner said of the American women. “So now we’re waiting and seeing when the next step is.”

U.S. Greco-Roman coach Matt Lindland is waiting, too. His wrestlers competed Friday in Ottawa.

“Even now, we’ve got to take a little time, decompress,” Lindland said Friday. “We need a little bit of time just to let go, step away for a second, live life, keep our bodies healthy, spend some time probably with family, things like that, just get our priorities right. Once we find out more information, we start building a plan. We can speculate all we want, but we’re really not in control of what’s happening right now in the world.”

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Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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