More than a month after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, Coleman Scott qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Thursday night.
Scott, a Waynesburg native, needed to defeat the top-two ranked wrestlers in the 60 kg freestyle class in order to secure his ticket to London. The top two, Reece Humphrey and Shawn Bunch, missed the Trials in April to focus on qualifying for the U.S. for the Olympics. Based on Olympic Trials Procedures, the three needed a wrestle-off to determine who would compete in August.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Scott said after defeating Bunch to clinch his Olympic berth.
"It's surreal right now and I just can't wait to go to London in August."
Scott beat Bunch, 2-1, in a best-of-three matches competition outdoors in Times Square in New York City. The four-time WPIAL and three-time PIAA champion won the first match handily, 1-0, 0-1, 7-0 before faltering in the second match, 0-1, 1-1, 1-2.
"Going into the second match, I let it slip through my fingers," Scott said.
"I was two minutes away from making the Olympic team and I just stood around. I knew I wouldn't let that happen in the third match."
Scott ended the third match quickly. After winning the first period, 1-0, he brought an early end to the second period with a five-point, Olympic-bid clinching throw.
"I don't know why I thought I would end it with a throw," Scott said.
"I've never actually beaten Bunch until the first match today. I knew I had to go get him like the past didn't matter."
In one regard, the past did matter to Scott. He distinctly remembers the first time he thought about going to the Olympics: when he watched Kendall Cross win the gold medal in the 57 kg class for the United States in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
"I remember it to this day," Scott said. "I actually thought about it earlier today."
Cross won the 1989 NCAA championship at Oklahoma State, the same school Scott represented when he earned his 2008 NCAA title. Scott intends to follow Cross's path in one more regard as well.
"We're going to win a medal," he said. "Gold."
Earlier in the afternoon, Scott beat Humphrey 1-0, 0-1, 1-0, with all three points coming after ball drops, wrestling's equivalent of a coin flip before overtime. Scott won four of five ball drops throughout the day, drastically improving his odds in those extra time situations. With all four matches coming in a lively atmosphere within Times Square, the drama only added to the festivities.
"It was awesome," Scott said of the unique setup. "I couldn't ask for a better crowd or a better environment."
Scott finished third in the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Douglas Farmer: email@example.com and Twitter @D_Farmer.