Brands Named Men's Olympic Freestyle Finalist

Nov. 4, 2003

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – USA Wrestling has announced 16 finalists for positions on the coaching staff for wrestling for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

The coach finalist candidates were selected by the appropriate coach selection committee for that discipline. Each of the candidates will be interviewed by the coach selection committee in depth. The selection of the Olympic coaching staff are expected to be made by mid-December, after the committee’s selections are presented to the USA Wrestling Executive Committee. This selection will be final pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The Freestyle Coach Selection Committee selected the following coach candidates for men’s freestyle wrestling: Tom Brands of Iowa City, Iowa; Bruce Burnett of Annapolis, Md.; Bobby Douglas of Ames, Iowa; Zeke Jones of Morgantown, W.Va.; and Mark Manning of Lincoln, Neb.

The Greco-Roman Coach Selection Committee selected the following coach candidates for men’s Greco-Roman wrestling: Jay Antonelli of Quantico, Va.; Joe DeMeo of Niskayuna, N.Y.; Rich Estrella of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Shon Lewis of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Andy Seras of Sandy Hook, Conn.

The Women’s Coach Selection Committee selected the following coach candidates for women’s freestyle wrestling: Joe Corso of Des Moines, Iowa; Tadaaki Hatta of Elyria, Ohio; Chris Horpel of Stanford, Calif.; Townsend Saunders of Phoenix, Ariz.; Tricia Saunders of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Troy Steiner of Madison, Wis.


Brands, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, is in his 12th season as a Hawkeye assistant coach.

Tom Brands of Iowa City, Iowa
“I think it is about the athletes, getting them what they need. We have to do a great job of getting them to feel good about themselves and about their preparation.”

Bruce Burnett of Annapolis, Md.
“I am certainly humbled by it. I’ve been in this position before as National Coach. I know how important it is to wrestling, the organization and to the country. It is humbling, exciting and important. I want to do everything I can to help these men win gold medals. Because of my past experience, I believe I can contribute. To be named as a finalist is an honor.”

Bobby Douglas of Ames, Iowa
“I have always considered it an honor to represent America, as an athlete and a coach. The years have given me the discipline of experience. I consider this a chance of a lifetime, and if selected, I will give the same effort that the team is giving.”

Zeke Jones of Morgantown, W.Va.
“It is an honor to be nominated. I would like to thank the Committee members for having faith in me. It’s an important job to help prepare our athletes to compete in Athens. I look forward to interviewing for the position.”

Mark Manning of Lincoln, Neb.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to be part of USA Wrestling and the Olympic coaching staff. I am always honored when I am asked to help coach a U.S. team. I’m a very patriotic guy, and love to represent the best country in the world. I look forward to helping our athletes to perform to be their best.”

Jay Antonelli of Quantico, Va.
“It is an honor to serve and coach a U.S. Olympic Team. It is an honor to be mentioned with the other coaches nominated. Any way that I can help to win medals for the United States, that is my goal.”

Joe DeMeo of Niskayuna, N.Y.
“It’s an honor to be selected as a finalist. I’m certainly flattered and pleased. I feel it is a wonderful thing to be in the company of the other applicants.”

Rich Estrella of Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I’m very pleased to be considered for the position. I have to thank my family, Home Depot, Air Force Sports and the athletes that belong to my club. We have high goals in mind. (National Coach) Steve Fraser has put together a good plan. We expect to do well in 2004 at the Olympic Games.”

Shon Lewis of Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I consider it a great honor to be recognized as a possible coach for the Olympic Team. I appreciate those who nominated me. If selected, I will do everything I can to prepare the team for the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.”

Andy Seras of Sandy Hook, Conn.
“I have been working hard towards that goal. I believe that I can help and am one of the best guys for the job.”

Joe Corso of Des Moines, Iowa
“I am honored to be considered a finalist. I’ve worked well with the women, and have coached them for a long time. This is very prestigious. It’s an opportunity to help the women achieve their goals of being Olympic champions.”

Tadaaki Hatta of Elyria, Ohio
“I am excited. I’m glad I was picked as one of the six finalists. If I get the position, I want to see four Olympic gold medals for the United States. That is what I will work for.”

Chris Horpel of Stanford, Calif.
“All six coaches nominated all do a great job. I’m honored to be one of them. Our prospects to do very well at the Olympics is exceptionally high. The program keeps getting better and better. I’m glad to be a part of that program.”

Townsend Saunders of Phoenix, Ariz.
“I think it is a tremendous opportunity. We have a chance to make history. It is phenomenal that I was selected for a chance to be part of it. I’m hoping Trish and I both get on the staff and we can make it a family affair.”

Tricia Saunders of Phoenix, Ariz.
“Townsend and I are both interested in the same thing. We’d like to see this team do well at the Olympics. Townsend and I both want to be part of getting the team to the top of the podium at the Olympics. I owe a lot to those who helped me at the World Championships all those years. It’s time for me to give back. It as exciting to be in the coaching capacity as it was being an athlete. I did not know that until now.”

Troy Steiner of Madison, Wis.
“I am excited. Being around the program for the last year, I’ve gained a new perspective on the sport and working with the women. The women are into the sport as much as I was. You respect it, and it is fun helping them achieve their goals.”