Ex-Tiger Bradley wins US Open Wrestling Championship

By defeating an Olympian foe, Bradley qualified for national team trials.
Senior heavyweight Dom Bradley laughs while talking with reporters during the wrestling team's first media event of the season at Hearnes Center in November 2012. Bradley captured the 120-kilogram U.S. Open Wrestling Championship, defeating former Olympian Tervel Dlagnev on Saturday. Maneater File Photo

Missouri two-time All-American Dom Bradley topped a 2012 Olympic wrestler Friday to win his first U.S. Open Wrestling Championship at 120 kilograms at the freestyle tournament in Las Vegas.

"It is the biggest win of my career," Bradley said. "I'm excited about it."

Bradley fell behind early in the match after dropping the first period, but he rallied in the last two periods to beat Tervel Dlagnev, a fifth-place finisher at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

After dropping the first period, Bradley said he had to clear his head and remember to take it one step at a time.

He then forced Dlagnev out twice in the second period, equating two points. Then, Bradley scored a point off a push out in the closing seconds of the third period to secure the victory.

With this win, Bradley earned a spot in the final round of the U.S. World Team Trials on June 23 in Stillwater, Okla. These trials determine who will represent the U.S. in Budapest, Hungary, at the 2013 World Wrestling Championship.

Bradley wrestled Dlagnev in 2010 and lost. He had never beaten him even in practice bouts until this past weekend.

Bradley said confidence made the difference between a loss and a victory. Missouri assistant head coach Sammie Henson coached Bradley at the tournament and gave him confidence.

"Coach Henson really helped me out and made more confident," Bradley said. "He was in my corner."

Henson and Bradley were not representing Missouri at this tournament, but the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, an elite club that helps wrestlers make it to the Olympics. Bradley has been with the club for five years.

He took an Olympic redshirt last season to train for the 2012 Olympics. While he did not make the team, Bradley has Olympic dreams and is training for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. This U.S. Open Championship puts Bradley one step closer to his dream.

On his way to the final match against Dlagnev, Bradley faced former Lehigh University wrestler Zachary Rey. Bradley had yet to win a match against Rey in their last four meetings, including the NCAA semifinals. This time was different.

"I have been itching at the bones to get him back, and I got to get him back," Bradley told themat.com.

Henson has been training Bradley, junior Alan Waters and assistant coach Nicholas Marable for this tournament. Marable and Waters placed third and fifth, respectively, and both qualified for the world team trials.

This was Bradley's first match since the NCAA championship where he placed fourth and earned All-American honors. He finished his career as a Tiger with 105 wins.

Until the team trials, Bradley said he will be, "relaxing, lifting and running."

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