Dan Dennis, an assistant wrestling coach at Windsor High School, is now a member of Team USA.
Dennis, 29, defeated Tony Ramos on Sunday, sweeping the best-of-three championship bout at 57 kilograms in U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling trials at Iowa City, Iowa.
Competing in his college gymnasium against a fellow Iowa grad, Dennis capped a personal comeback from the disappointment of failing to qualify for the Olympic trials in 2012. A former two-time state champion in high school at Ingleside, Ill, and a two-time All-American at the University of Iowa, Dennis saw his career drift after 2012.
He ended up in Windsor two years ago because of a former Iowa teammate, Joe DuCharme, who happened to have a younger brother Dominic who was on coach Rich Carnation’s Jaguars wrestling team and DuCharme’s father, Nate, who helped coach the team.
It led to an invitation from Carnation for Dennis to join the Windsor program, all the while finding time and opportunity for his body to heal and his hunger to compete get renewed.
He put himself in the championship picture with a first-place finish at the U.S. Senior Nationals at Las Vegas in December, which set him up for the trip to Iowa City.
Against Ramos in Sunday’s championship match, Dennis completed his comeback by dominating a two-time World team member. Dennis swept Ramos, winning the second match 10-0 after spinning Ramos around the mat in a gut-wrench that ended the match in just 64 seconds.
“Our entire California wrestling community and especially his Windsor wrestling family couldn’t be more proud of Dan and the courage he displayed, to overcome all his previous setbacks, disappointments and challenges to one last time put it all on the line and come out victorious, the best 57kg wrestler in the nation and a United States Olympian,” Carnation said Sunday night.”
Dennis earned his way to the final by winning two earlier matches Sunday. He defeated Alan Waters 9-2 in the quarterfinal round and Tyler Graff 6-3 in the semifinal round.