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All Four Women’s Wrestling Medalists From Tokyo Go For Gold At Worlds

By Karen Price | Sept. 30, 2021, 3:42 p.m. (ET)

Adeline Maria Gray competes in the Women's Freestyle 76kg Final during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Tokyo.

 

The U.S. women’s freestyle wrestling team that will take the mat in Oslo, Norway, for the World Wrestling Championships next week will be chock full of world title holders, Olympic champions and multiple medalists from both events. 

With Adeline Gray, Tamyra Mensah Stock, Helen Maroulis and Sarah Hildebrandt all back to try to add world medals to their Olympic medals won this summer, the U.S. is expected to be a formidable opponent. At the 2019 world championships, the U.S. women had their best showing in team history with three individual titles. They’ll be seeking not only more individual titles this year but also their second-ever team gold, the last one coming in 1999. 

Joining the senior world team veterans on the roster are also members of the next generation. Three of the 10 wrestlers will be making their senior world team debuts, and USA Wrestling National Teams High Performance Manager Cody Bickley is excited to see how the combination plays out.

“I think the ceiling for the women’s program is extremely high right now and it’s very exciting,” Bickley said. “For sure there are some talented young ladies in the women’s pipeline. Put them on a team with Gray and Maroulis and Hildebrandt and Mensah Stock and that’s when you can see them make jumps big time in their development.”

The U.S. men’s and women’s freestyle teams won nine medals at the Olympic Games this summer, more than any other nation and more than the program has ever won in a non-boycotted Games. 

Of the nine, it seems only fitting that Gray got the party started. 

 

 


Gray already has more senior world titles than any U.S. wrestler, man or woman, and she won the silver medal at 76 kg. in Tokyo after falling in the final to Germany’s Aline Rotter-Focken, 7-3. She’ll have another chance to add to her impressive world championship medal count in Oslo. In addition to her five gold medals, the last title coming in 2019, she also has two world bronze medals to her name. 

 

“I think the ceiling for the women’s program is extremely high right now and it’s very exciting.”

Cody Bickley, USA Wrestling National Teams High Performance Manager

Mensah Stock made history in Tokyo. Just five years after Maroulis became the first American woman to win Olympic gold in wrestling in Rio, Mensah Stock became the first Black American woman to do it when she beat Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu, 4-1, in the 68 kg. class. She also won the world title in 2019.

 

 


Maroulis is also on the world team, having followed up her gold in 2016 with a hard-fought bronze in Tokyo at 57 kg. to become the country’s first women’s wrestler with two Olympic medals. The 30-year-old battled a number of injuries in the years leading up to Tokyo, including during her last appearance at the world championships in 2018 when she suffered a stunning upset in the first round. She was the world title winner in 2015 and 2017, a silver medalist in 2012 and a bronze medalist in 2014 and will be looking to add to that total in Oslo. 

Hildebrandt is also a 2020 bronze medalist after her 12-1 victory over Ukraine’s Oksana Livach in her first Olympic appearance. She also has a world silver medal from 2018.

The one unknown this year is how those who competed in Tokyo will fare with the quick turnaround. The world championships has never followed so closely after an Olympic Games before, and Bickley admitted he wasn’t sure how many of the medalists would accept their automatic invitations to wrestle in Oslo. Of the nine total, only 125 kg. gold medalist Gable Steveson declined.

Joining the Olympic medalists on the team are past world team members Jenna Burkert, who defeated 2019 gold medalist and 2020 Olympian Jacarra Winchester at 55 kg. at the World Team Trials, Kayla Miracle at 62 kg. and Forrest Molinari at 65 kg. Miracle, who also competed in Tokyo, is making her second world championship appearance while Burkert is on her fourth team and Molinari her third. 

The newcomers are Amy Fearnside (53 kg.), Maya Nelson (59 kg.) and Kylie Welker (72 kg.), all making their senior world team debuts. Nelson and Welker, who’s just 17, have both won junior world titles, including Welker just this year. 

“She had a great summer winning medals at her age level and now she’s stepped up and made her first senior world team,” Bickley said of Welker. “There’s a lot of confidence in that young lady and she wants to get another gold medal. It’s very exciting for the women’s program. I’m really anxious to see how some of these younger athletes perform.”

The World Wrestling Championships opens Oct. 2 with men’s freestyle wrestling through Oct. 5, women’s freestyle Oct. 4-7 and Greco-Roman Oct. 7-10. 

 

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
 

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Adeline Gray

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Sarah Hildebrandt

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Helen Maroulis

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Tamyra Mensah-Stock