U.S. World Team Trials women’s freestyle preview at 53 kg/116.5 lbs.

May 19, 2014, 1:58 p.m. (ET)
VIDEO: Whitney Conder dec. Katherine Fulp-Allen, 2014 U.S. Open finals

With the expansion of weight classes to eight at the World Championships, and six women’s weights for the Olympic Games, the new 53 kg class takes new importance as an Olympic weight. Athletes who used to compete at 51 kg, and some who were at 55 kg, are collecting together at 53 kg, giving it some additional depth.

The 2014 U.S. Open champion is past World Team member Whitney Conder, who seems to fit perfectly in this division. Conder has made the Women’s national team at both 51 kg and 55 kg, and looked very strong in Las Vegas at her new weight. She has both skill and experience along with additional confidence from the national title, and gets to sit out until the best-of-three championship series.

Another who seemed to benefit from going 53 kg is U.S. Open runner-up Katherine Fulp-Allen, who has had a strong year at the international level. Also a past national team member at 55 kg, Fulp-Allen won medals at the Schultz Memorial and the Grand Prix of Paris. She also owns a win over Conder at the NYAC International.

The 55 kg champion at the Open was 2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis. She won the Schultz Memorial at 53 kg and also wrestled well at the World Cup there. However, Maroulis remained at 55 kg for the Open and has indicated she will be at 55 kg for the World Team Trials. She has the right to change her mind, and if she drops to 53 kg, she becomes an immediate favorite.

Two-time World Team member Jessica Medina placed third at the Open at 53 kg, and is always a dangerous draw. She also has a win over Conder at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. She has not had a strong winter tour season, but is fully capable of beating the best in this class, both domestically and around the world.

2014 WCWA women’s college champion Haley Augello did not compete at the U.S. Open, but has success against many of the athletes here. She was second at the 2013 U.S. Open. Her biggest win this year was over Medina in the Schultz Memorial, but has losses to Fulp-Allen and Conder. A past Cadet World champion, if Augello is ready to go in Madison, she could find her way to the finals.

Another WCWA champion, Sarah Hildebrandt, was second at 55 kg at the Open and is eligible to compete at the Phase I World Team Trials. She is not expected to drop to 53 kg, but if she does, would be a force. Another talent in the field is past Junior World Team member Carlene Sluberski, who was fourth at the Open at 53 kg. Sluberski attends Brock University in Canada, and won the Guelph Open. She also boasts a win over Augello at the NYAC International.

College star Amy Fearnside placed a strong fifth at the Open, and was the University Nationals champion at this weight class. Young newcomers Laura Anderson and Sarah Allen placed in the top seven at the U.S. Open, punching their ticket for Madison.

The University Nationals finalists at 55 kg, Samantha Klingel and Tamara Tillman, also earn a spot in the World Team Trials. Klingel is more likely to make the drop to 53 kg to test herself at this Olympic weight. Taking second at the University Nationals at 53 kg is another tough collegian, Shelby Morrison. Getting the final spot in the field with a gold at the Northern Plains Regionals is Xandria Ford.

This weight could have some volatility, especially if most of those eligible choose to wrestle in Madison. Conder has the advantage of sitting out until the finals series, but better be ready, because whoever reaches the finals round will be talented and motivated.

2014 U.S. Open women’s results at 53 kg/116.5 lbs.
1st - Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army (WCAP) dec. Katherine Fulp-Allen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC), 2-0
3rd - Jessica Medina, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Carlene Sluberski, Fredonia, N.Y. (NYAC), 2-1
5th - Amy Fearnside, Jamestown, N.D. (Titan Mercury WC) pin Laura Anderson, Indio, Calif. (Valdez Wrestling Academy), 3:24
7th - Sarah Allen, Huber Heights, Ohio (Univ. of the Cumberlands) pin Madison Tung, San Marino, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC), 1:33

2014 U.S. World Team Trials qualifiers at 53 kg/116.5 lbs.
Final Wrestle-off Qualifier -
2014 U.S. Open champion - Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army (WCAP)
Trials Tournament Qualifiers
2014 U.S. Open second place – Katherine Fulp-Allen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC)
2014 U.S. Open third place – Jessica Medina, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
2014 U.S. Open fourth place – Carlene Sluberski, Fredonia, N.Y. (NYAC)
2014 U.S. Open fifth place – Amy Fearnside, Morgan Hill, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
2014 U.S. Open sixth place – Laura Anderson, Indio, Calif. (Valdez Wrestling Academy)
2014 U.S. Open seventh place – Sarah Allen, Huber Heights, Ohio (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
2014 University Nationals second place, 53 kg – Shelby Morrison, Amarillo, Texas (OKCU Gator RTC)
2014 University Nationals champion, 55 kg - Samantha Klingel, Kregesville, Pa. (King University)
2014 University Nationals second place, 55 kg - Tamara Tillman, Whittier, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
2014 WCWA Nationals champion – Haley Augello, Lockport, Ill. (NYAC/King Univ.)
2014 U.S. Open champion (55 kg) – Helen Maroulis, Rockville, Md. (Sunkist Kids)
2014 U.S. Open second place (55 kg) – Sarah Hildebrandt, Granger, Ind. (King Univ.)
2014 Northern Plains Senior Regionals champion – Xandria Ford, Waianae, Hawaii (MWC Wrestling Academy)