Coleman earns spot on U.S. Olympic team

Wins Greco-Roman 132-pound class at trials

Ellis Coleman already was YouTube famous.

Now Coleman and his "flying squirrel" move that went viral are headed to the London Olympics.

The 20-year-old from Oak Park High School became the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team Sunday night in Iowa City.

Coleman beat Chicagoan Joe Betterman 2-0 in the finals of the Greco-Roman 132-pound class at the Olympic trials without needing the move ESPN ranked third on its Best of the Best Highlights for 2011.

"It's kind of a monkey on my back," Coleman said. "But I knew if I made the Olympics with all the publicity about the move I will attract some fans."

The "flying squirrel" involves somersaulting over an opponent's back and then immediately grabbing the opponent for a takedown. He did it to win a semifinal match en route to a bronze medal at last year's junior world championships.

"I never wanted it to happen because I only hit the move when I'm losing," Coleman said. "But I always pictured myself, even in (the) Olympic setting and losing in the finals match, third period with 15 seconds left, hitting the flying squirrel and everyonegoing crazy. I still picture it."

His victory Sunday night wiped out the frustration of a high school career in which he said, "I always choked."

"Once you lose so much, you never want it to happen again," said Coleman, who trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. "I lost in a big upset my senior year, and I keep flashing back to that."

Jake Herbert, 26 who won NCAA titles in 2007 and 2009 for Northwestern, came back from losing the first match in the best-of-three finals to win the Olympic team freestyle spot at 185 pounds over Travis Paulson. Herbert is the first Wildcat wrestler to make the Olympics.

As a younger wrestler, Coleman went to clinics at which Betterman, 27, a Lakeview High School product, was one of the instructors.

"I never thought I'd be here, me and him in the finals," Coleman said.

Twitter @olyphil