Alli Ragan reigns at Carver-Hawkeye wrestle-offs

World team member earns chance to compete at Pan Am Olympic Qualifier

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IOWA CITY — Alli Ragan had her head wrapped like Dan Gable and wore Tony Ramos’ head gear.

Both of them made a habit of winning at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and she followed suit.

Ragan swept 2015 World bronze medalist Leigh Jaynes-Provisor in a best-of-three-series Friday night, earning the chance to represent the U.S. Women’s wrestling team at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying tournament March 5 in Frisco, Texas. The event capped a weeklong training camp at CHA, which is the host of the 2016 USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials on April 9-10.

Ragan, a World Team member, recorded 3-0 and 4-0 victories. She scored two takedowns in the final bout and one takedown in the opener. She said she knew staying in good position was key against Jaynes-Provisor at 128 pounds.

“It was a great match, both of them,” Ragan said. “She’s very strong. You have to be in good position with her.”

Ragan dealt with an infection in her right ear, hampering her ability to train throughout the week and casting doubt on her ability to participate Friday. Adrenaline powered her through the matches, but Iowa’s training staff helped her through the week.

“I figured antibiotics and fluids would get me through it,” Ragan said. “Tony (Ramos) let me borrow his headgear. I felt like I belonged.

“I would have been hurting out there without it.”

The responsibility to secure the U.S. spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, rests on her shoulders. She welcomes the challenge, even though she missed a previous chance.

“I’m glad that it’s me,” Ragan said. “I’m the one but I should have done that in September. It’s like making up for time I shouldn’t be doing, so we’re backtracking when I should have this job done.”

During the training camp, Ragan stood on the CHA concourse visualizing the Trials competition that is less than three months away. She qualified here in 2012, but was new on the scene and was happy to be here. Now, she has higher expectations that resemble the result she had Friday.

“It’s awesome,” Ragan said. “This is my year. I know it’s my year, so it’s my spot. I can’t wait to get my hand raised more out there in April.”

Defending World champion Helen Maroulis also won a spot for the upcoming Pan Am competition. Maroulis (116.5) scored a technical fall over Whitney Conder, who defaulted the second match.

Tamyra Mensah, of Katy, Texas, swept Randi Miller for the 152 position. Mensah scored a quick takedown and won the final match, 3-1. Randi Beltz, of Team St. Louis, also won an exhibition bout.

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