Wrestling Coach Bono to Compete in Pan Am Games
Chris Bono
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
Head wrestling coach Chris Bono is no stranger to top-level international competition.

The former NCAA wrestling champion has traveled around the world three times to compete in his chosen sport, and he has many medals and trophies as proof of his many successes.

Bono will wrestle in the Pan Am Games Sunday with a potential U.S. Olympic Team berth on the line.

The 2008 Pan Am Games, held in Colorado Springs, Colo., will serve as a qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Games, held in August in Beijing, China.

Bono will represent the United States in the 145.5 pound freestyle class (66 kg) and is set to face one of Cuba's top wrestlers in his opening match.

A four-time U.S. National champion, Bono competed in the 2002 Pan Am Games, bringing home a bronze medal. He placed third at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and served as a team alternate.

It is truly an honor to represent and compete for your country,” Bono says. “But I will not be satisfied unless I win an Olympic Gold Medal. That is my goal. Making the team would be great, but I am going through this process with the Gold Medal as my goal.”

Bono has already qualified for the Olympic Trails. He will compete again in April at the U.S. Open, and with a title there, he would need two wins at the Trials to become a U.S. Olympian.

Former Mocs head coach Terry Brands was an Olympic Gold Medalist, and is now a coach at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

In just his second year as a head coach, Bono has had nearly as much success, relatively speaking, with the Chattanooga program.

Just last week, his Mocs won the Southern Conference regular-season title for the second time under Bono. His team will be heavily favored to win the SoCon Championships on March 8, held on the UTC campus.

Last year, Bono qualified nine Mocs wrestlers to compete at the NCAA Championships, tying Minnesota with the most of any school in the nation. He coached one All-America, Matt Keller, who also earned the honor in 2006.

The Iowa State graduate is adamant when he says that his competition will never get in the way of his coaching. The Pan Am Games just happened to fall on the weekend between Chattanooga's final regular-season dual and the SoCon Championships.

He also says this his active wrestling training regimen stimulates his recruiting efforts and opens doors for the program to some of the nation's top prep wrestlers.

A lot of these kids want to wrestle for their country and wrestling internationally,” he says. “They see that I can do it, and they see that my assistant (Nate Gallick) is doing it. And we are successful. It is certainly a positive that we take advantage of in our recruiting efforts.”

The wrestling portion of the Pan Am Games began Friday and concludes Sunday. The Games also include Greco-Roman and Women's Freestyle.

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