CBC graduate Mango finishes second Olympic competition in ninth place
By: Warren Mayes
The 2012 London Olympics ended in disappointment for Christian Brothers College High School graduate Spenser Mango.
Team USA Greco-Roman grappler Mango a failed to earn a medal Sunday at the games.
Mango, who just celebrated his 26th birthday July 6, was one of two members of the seven-man U.S. Olympic Greco squad who has prior Olympic experience (the other being heavyweight Dremeil Byers). Mango competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he placed eighth at 121 pounds.
In three World Championships since then, his best finish has been ninth.
That’s where he finished in London.
Mango placed ninth at 121 pounds in competition at ExCel Centre in London. Iran’s Hamid Soryan won the gold medal in the weight class.
Mango got off to a good start. He defeated his first opponent, Mohamed Abouhalima of Egypt, 6-1, 1-0.
However, in the second round, the St. Louis native lost to eventual silver medalist Rovshan Bayramov of Azerbaijan, 0-4, 0-4. When Bayramov advanced to the finals, Mango found himself in the wrestlebacks, where he lost to Russia’s Mingiyan Semenov, 0-2, 0-1.
That was the end of Mango’s hope of possibly earning a bronze medal.
“I wrestled tough, that’s all I can do,” said Mango in a news conference after the match. “I wrestled tough and did my best. That’s all I can do.”
In the first period of the match, Mango held off Semenov for more than 20 seconds before the Russian changed his grip and was able to flip Mango for two points with seven seconds left in the period.
“He got a spot under my ribs and was able to turn me,” Mango said.
“I think Spenser did a nice job of defending him but he got turned in those final seconds,” U.S. coach Steve Fraser said in a news conference.
In the second period it was Semenov who held off Mango’s attempt at turning over his opponent to win points that would have extended the match. Mango tried everything he could but Semenov held his ground until the final buzzer to win the match.
“He’s a great wrestler,” Mango said.
Mango had plenty of family support at the games. His mother, Deborah, his wife, Leann, and brother Ryan, a Whitfield graduate who wrestles for Stanford, attended.
Mango has been the top U.S. wrestler at his weight for more than four years but has been unable to duplicate that success in the Olympics.
Mango was a two-time Missouri high school state champ at CBC, went to college at Northern Michigan University, where he participated in the U.S. Olympic Education Center program. He is a member of the Army squad, and has been a member of Team USA since 2007.
Mango made the U.S. Olympic team by beating Max Nowry in two straight matches — first by pin, second by 1-0, 3-0. That enabled him- to earn his place on the 2012 Olympic squad.
Mango said he does not plan to retire.
“Unfortunately our losses and setbacks are the things that push us the hardest to get better,” Fraser said. “I don’t think you’ll see the last of Spenser. He still has a lot of great potential and can keep improving.”