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Utah's Ruiz loses Olympic wrestling qualifier

Published April 29, 2012 3:08 pm

London 2012 • He has one last chance to make Team USA.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wrestler Justin Ruiz of Orem lost his only match Sunday at a qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics, leaving him with just one more chance to keep his dream alive.

The former state champion at Taylorsville High School lost to Chan-Gun An of Korea — the bronze medalist at the Asian Championships last year — 1-0, 0-1 and 0-1 in the first round of the tournament in Taiyuan, China.

"Justin did not wrestle with much spark," national team coach Steve Fraser said. "He was a bit slow on his feet. He had trouble getting his hands locked. But finally, Justin turned him both times, but one second late."

Twice the runner-up in the U.S. Olympic Trials for Greco-Roman wrestling, Ruiz needed to finish in the top three of the tournament to both earn the Americans a place in his 211.5-pound weight division in London and earn himself a special "wrestle-off" against recently crowned U.S. trials champion RC Johnson for the right to compete in London.

Still, Ruiz has one last chance. He must finish in the top two of one last qualifying tournament next weekend in Helsinki. If he does, he will compete against Johnson in a single winner-goes-to-London match at a date and time that will be determined later, if necessary.