Adeline Gray is storming back into competition for a run at a fourth world title.
After taking a year off from competition in 2017, the 2016 Olympian locked down a spot on the 2018 U.S. world team by sweeping rising star Korinahe Bullock at Saturday night’s Final X in State College, Pennsylvania.
Gray was one of six freestyle wrestlers to win best-of-three matches and capture spots on the world team. The UWW World Wrestling Championships will be held in October in Budapest, Hungary.
Saturday’s competition was the second of three Final X Series meets, each consisting of six or seven weight classes.
Since returning to competition in October, Gray has had success at the Dave Schultz Memorial in the U.S., Flatz Open in Austria, Klippan Open in Sweden and 2018 World Cup in Japan. She has regained her number one world ranking, and is on a world team for the seventh time. She won Saturday by a technical fall and a pin in the women’s 76-kilogram weight class.
Gray is a five-time world medalist, winning titles in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and bronzes in 2011 and 2013. She was fifth at her first worlds in 2009.
Joining Gray on the women’s world team after victories in State College are Mallory Velte, a 2017 world team member who went three matches to defeat Kayla Miracle at 62 kg., and Erin Clodgo, a 2017 world team member who outlasted Rachel Watters in the best-of-three 72 kg.
Also clinching a world team spot Saturday was Kyle Dake, a three-time runner-up finisher at world team trials and a runner-up finisher behind 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Dake a two-time U.S. Open champion, defeated Zahid Valencia in two matches, 4-0 and 4-3, in the 79 kg. class, a new weight division approved by United World Wrestling this year.
Logan Stieber, a 2016 world champion, made his third world team, defeating U.S. Open champion Joseph McKenna in straight matches at 65 kg.
David Taylor made his first world team with 13-2 and 10-0 wins over Nick Reenan at 86 kg.
The third, and last, Final X event is scheduled for June 23 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The weight classes to be determined at Lehigh are: men’s freestyle, 61 kg., 92 kg., 125 kg.; women’s freestyle, 50 kg., 53 kg., 57 kg., 65 kg.
The event includes 2016 Olympic champion and two-time world champion Helen Maroulis, and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 world bronze medalist J’den Cox.
Thirteen of the 20 world team spots have been locked in. Qualifying last week were Burroughs (74 kg.), Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder (97 kg.), world silver medalist Thomas Gilman (57 kg.) and two-time world medalist James Green (70 kg.) in men’s freestyle, and two-time world medalist Alli Ragan (59 kg.), Jacarra Winchester (55 kg.) and Tamyra Stock (68 kg.) in women’s freestyle.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.