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Old 04-23-2012
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Ellis Coleman Headed to London

Illinois Matmen

In Olympic wrestling, there’s often a changing of the guard. As a beginning teen, Ellis Coleman attended clinics at Oak Park-River Forest High School run by Joe Betterman.

With his 1-0, 2-0 and 0-2, 5-0, 1-0 wins over Betterman Sunday night in Iowa City at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the United States Greco-Roman Olympic Trials at 132 pounds, the 20-year old Coleman now becomes the face of the sport.

It turns out, Oak Park coach Mike Powell was prophetic about Coleman’s future.

“After Ellis won Fargo [at age 15], I told our staff if Ellis goes to London I am buying,” he said. “I think that win cost me $10,000.”


It wasn’t an easy decision choosing between college folkstyle or Greco-Roman.

“We had a long talk and I really pushed for Greco and I am glad I did,” said Powell.

Former Oak Park coach Niall Collins and assistant, son Paul Collins, club coaches Ryan Casey, Lou Bragaw, Bryan Medlin and Mike Tamillow made the trip to Iowa City.

“We’re bringing more to London!” he stated.

“This is the biggest thing I’ve experienced,” said Powell, who has mentored Coleman since the seventh grade. “It’s a dream realized. There are a lot of wrestlers here who worked very hard to get here, but nobody deserves it more. This is the culmination of a lot of work; Ellis sacrificed a lot, he earned it. He’s a great role model for the kids in our program and all the wrestlers in the Chicago area.”

Working under coach Momir Petkovic at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado the past year, Coleman’s offensive tools were sharpened to where he’s become virtually unstoppable.

“I feel I am versatile on my feet,” said Coleman. “I come from different angles. Instead of just slicking people, I’ve been able to mix my athleticism with technique. Coach Petkovic knows my body type and has shown me moves that work for my style.

Leaving no doubt who was the top of the class, Coleman handled Sunkist Kids Jesse Thielke 5-0, 4-1 and Army’s Jeremiah Davis 2-0, 2-0 to advance to the final.

Against Betterman, he got a push out in the first period and used a gut wrench to take the first match.

In the second match, he didn’t get a turn and was down 0-2. Coleman stepped up his offense, taking Betterman down and gutting him three times and added two more gut wrenches in the third period.

“I felt confident going into the trials and things went pretty much how I thought they would,” said Coleman, who lost to Betterman twice in 2009. “I set a good pace and stayed offensive. I think my conditioning is what sets me apart.”

A 2009 Oak Park graduate, Coleman’s progressed at an alarming rate.

“When I finished third at the World Trials [last year], that’s when I knew I could be here,” he said. “It started to hit me the last 30 seconds of the match and then when I walked off that I am going to London.”

Oak Park’s most accomplished wrestler John Giura [a 1981 state champion and three-time All-American at Wisconsin] competed in consecutive Olympic Trials from 1984-2000 with his best finish as runner up in freestyle (149.5) in 1992, serving as an alternate to Towsend Saunders.
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Old 04-23-2012
Rick Robertson Rick Robertson is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Illinois Matmen

It turns out, Oak Park coach Mike Powell was prophetic about Coleman’s future.

“After Ellis won Fargo [at age 15], I told our staff if Ellis goes to London I am buying,” he said. “I think that win cost me $10,000.”

Put something together. I'm sure the Illinois wrestling community will help out. Congrats Ellis.

Rick Robertson
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Old 04-25-2012
IHSAWrestleFan IHSAWrestleFan is offline
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I sure hope the Chicago area news media provides some good coverage/stories about Coleman's experience and doesn't ignore wrestling like they have in the past. A local kid as good as Ellis headed to the Olympics is big news!
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Old 04-25-2012
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Triton College Wrestling Triton College Wrestling is offline
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Location: River Grove, Illinois
Posts: 371
Congratulations to Ellis from the staff at Triton. It has been our pleasure to watch you grow as a competitor for many years. Best of luck in London!
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