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10 Questions for U.S. Nationals champion Katie Downing



KATIE DOWNING
2002-03 Team USA Ranking: No. 1 at 67g/147.5 lbs.
Years on Team USA: 5 (1998-2000, 2002-04)
Residence: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Club: Sunkist Kids
College: UM-Morris
High School: Pendleton, Ind. (Pendleton Heights HS)
Born: January 6, 1980 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Height: 5-8

1. How thrilled were you to win a national title this year?

Downing: I was really pumped to win this year because I have never won a senior nationals before. Sometimes nationals is played up more than the Trials, and it felt really good to finally win one.

2. You kind of struggled in a couple of tournaments earlier this year. What do you think was the cause of those performances?

Downing: Mainly because I was wrestling at 158.5. All year, when I was trying to bulk up, I was weighing 155, so it was tough to wrestle at the higher weight. Obviously, I do much better at 147.5.

3. In the national finals, you faced Kaci Lyle, who is also training in Colorado Springs. Is she someone you ever work out with and if so, do you think that helped you in your finals match?

Downing: We train all the time. She is one of the reasons I have improved so much. In one way, some people don't think it's good to train with your top competitors. But if she gets better and starts stopping my best stuff, then I have to get better.

4. What has helped you to get to the top spot on USA Wrestling's ladder in your weight class the past year and a half?

Downing: I really can't go without mentioning the OTC program and Terry Steiner. There has never been a better situation in the United States for the girls. We have the best coach, the best facilities, and as far as schedule, there is no better place. We have one full-time coach to concentrate on us.

5. How vital has the new women's resident program been to your success?

Downing: It's been a big part of it. Like I said, I can't talk enough about how much better the state of women's wrestling is today in the United States, and that is all because of the resident program.

6. Last year, you won the World Team Trials, but lost a Special Wrestle-off to Kristie Marano in Fargo. How much have those losses to Marano driven you this year?

Downing: Each loss, you can take something from it immediately, but you kind of have to let it go. I guess the thing I took the most from the wrestle-off last year is that I won't be done after the Trials this year.

7. Do you expect to once again be wrestling off following the Trials?

Downing: If nobody came to challenge me, then that would not be smart on their part. Those girls who are second and third at the other weight classes have nothing to lose.

8. Do you feel the Special Wrestle-off system is fair?

Downing: I don't like it. It's not fair to the people who end up losing the spot that they have earned, because nobody has to re-earn their spot. It's just like when the clinch first came in. Nobody liked it, but you train for it.

9. What will you do to prepare for the year's Trials? Is it going to be anything different than you did for last year's tournament?

Downing: No, because I feel good where I am right now. I have worked on the things I need to work on. I feel confident going in. For the two days of the Challenge Tournament, I am just going to be getting good practices in.

10. What are your thoughts on being able to compete in front of your friends and family at the World Team Trials?

Downing: I am really glad that I get to go home. There are a lot of people who have always supported me, but have not been able to get out to where I wrestle. This is a way for them to get to see me and thank them for supporting me throughout my career.
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