April 10, 2002
SFSU junior Grace Magnussen recently took home the silver medal for female wrestling's Team USA at the Pan American Women's Wrestling Championships in Venezuela.
Magnussen, a 23-year-old dance major, placed second in the 63 kg (138.5 lb) category for all of North and South America and contributed to Team USA's overall first place standing in the competition. Her strong showing means that she'll have the opportunity to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympics team, as her sport will be featured for the first time in the 2004 summer games in Athens.
A native of Concord, Calif., Magnussen joined the Ygnacio Valley High School wrestling the team at 14 and has been wrestling ever since. Her goal after completing her degree in May 2003 is to coach other wrestlers at the Olympic training center in Colorado.
SFSU only has a men's wrestling team, and Magnussen usually works out at other campuses where she may be more likely to spar with women. Training has become even more important to her now since Olympic competition will be stiff.
To include women's freestyle wrestling in the summer Olympic games, already crowded with a growing number of events, participation had to be sharply limited. Instead of the typical 10 wrestling weight classes, the Olympics will only feature five. Wrestlers are moving to other groups, swelling the ranks and heightening competition. Magnussen, for example, had to move up a weight class, going from 129 to 138 pounds, to be considered a viable athlete.
To make the Olympic team, each wrestler must rank first in her weight class nationwide. That allows her to join the World Team Trials, which determines what countries may attend the Olympics.
And Magnussen isn't the only SFSU student and female wrestler with her eyes on the 2004 Olympics. This month, senior Julie Gonzales will compete to regain her ranking among the top three 47 kg (101 lb) female wrestlers in the country, putting her in a position to rejoin Team USA, where she had been for four years until last spring.
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