USA Wrestling Gray going for gold,...

Gray going for gold, Ragan shooting for bronze at World Championships

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Sept. 11, 2014, 5:19 a.m. (ET)

Adeline Gray stormed into the finals at the World Championships on Thursday. Robbert Wijtman and Bob Mayeri photos.

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – Adeline Gray is back in the finals of the World Championships.

And she did it with one of the most remarkable performances of her amazing career.

Gray stormed through an incredibly tough bottom half of a bracket that included the World’s top five ranked wrestlers to reach the gold-medal match at 75 kg/165 lbs. on Thursday at the Gymnastics Palace.

The medal matches are set for 6 p.m. Thursday (9 a.m. Eastern)

“To be a World champion you’ve got to beat the best girls in the World,” Gray said. “It’s an exciting day. I knew it was a gauntlet of a bracket to go through and I woke up this morning and I just decided I was going to win. My coaches really believed in me. I’m excited to be on the podium again with another medal and I’m really hoping it’s a gold one tonight.”

Gray, a 2012 World champion, capped an amazing four-win first session with a 5-1 victory over World University silver medalist Epp Mae of Estonia in the women’s freestyle semifinals.

“I just got a couple quick takedowns and that was huge for me,” Gray said. “I just played it safe and wrestled smart in the second period.”

Gray advances to meet surprise finalist Aline da Silva of Brazil in Thursday night’s finals. Gray beat da Silva, ranked 10th in the World, 7-0 in the New York AC tournament in November.

“I’m excited to wrestle her,” Gray said. “She’s a dangerous wrestler. I have to control my pace and just wrestle my match.”

Gray will be joined in the medal round by teammate Alli Ragan, who is in the bronze-medal bout at 58 kg/128 lbs. Ragan will meet Anastassia Huchok of Belarus for bronze.

Gray, who also won World bronze medals in 2011 and 2013, becomes just the fourth American woman to win four medals at the World Championships. She joins Trish Saunders, Kristie Marano and Shannon Williams in that exclusive group.

Gray opened by pulling out an improbable 11-10 win over Zhou Qian of China in the first round. Gray trailed 9-2 late in the match before scoring a takedown and a succession of leg laces to tie the match 9-9.

Zhou came back with a pushout to lead 10-9 before Gray countered a shot and exposed Zhou’s back to the mat with six seconds left for two points to earn a dramatic win.

“I just had to keep fighting,” Gray said. “I gave everything I had and put it all into that match. My experience paid off. I was behind 9-2, but I was still just a few laces away. I knew I still had time to come back.”

Gray trailed 6-5 early in the second period before breaking and pinning 2013 World fifth-place finisher Yasemin Adar of Turkey in the second round. Gray took Adar down and drove her weary opponent to her back for a fall at the 4:42 mark.

Gray, ranked fourth in the World, held off World No. 2 Hiroe Suzuki of Japan 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Suzuki beat Gray twice this season.

“The Japanese girl is very tough and stays in good position,” Gray said. “I just had to be patient in that match.”

U.S. coach Terry Steiner credited Gray’s resiliency and composure in her brilliant first-session run.

“Adeline had a gutsy, gutsy performance,” Steiner said. “Down 9-2 against China, she came back and showed why she’s a true champion. She won very tough matches against very strong opponents. Now she needs to be ready for a battle in the finals. Brazil is very strong and athletic, and has a judo background. We need to be ready.”

Ragan rallied from a 4-0 deficit to storm past Aisylyy Tynbekova of Kyrgyzstan 7-6 in the first round.

Ragan then fell by technical fall to three-time Olympian champion and eight-time World champion Kaori Icho of Japan in the quarterfinals

Ragan advanced to the bronze-medal bout with a 10-0 technical fall over Uzbekistan’s Asem Seydametova in the repechage round.

American Whitney Conder opened with a strong 6-0 win over France’s Tatiana Debien at 53 kg/116.5 lbs.

Conder came back to rally for a dramatic win over 2013 World silver medalist Sumiya Erdenechimeg of Mongolia in the second round. Trailing 4-2 late in the bout, Conder scored a takedown to tie it 4-4. She won the match on criteria by virtue of scoring last.

Conder then lost by fall to World champion Sofia Mattson of Sweden in the quarterfinals. Conder was eliminated after falling 8-2 to North Korea’s Myong-Suk Jong in the repechage round.

“It was definitely a challenging day,” Conder said. “I fought as hard as I could. It’s definitely not what I wanted, but I gave it everything I had.”

2014 World Championships
Sept. 8-14
Gymnastics Palace, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Finals matchups

53 kg/116.5 lbs.
Saori Yoshida (Japan) vs. Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)

58 kg/128 lbs.
Kaori Icho (Japan) vs. Valeria Koblova (Russia)

75 kg/165 lbs.
Adeline Gray (USA) vs. Aline da Silva (Brazil)

U.S. women’s freestyle results

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Tatiana Debien (France), 6-0
WIN Sumiya Erdenechimeg (Mongolia), 4-4
LOSS Sofia Mattson (Sweden), fall 1:40
LOSS Myong-Suk Jong (North Korea), 2-8

58 kg/128 lbs. – Alli Ragan, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
WIN Aisylyy Tynbekova (Kyrgyzstan), 7-6
LOSS Kaori Icho (Japan), tech. fall 0-10
WIN Asem Seydametova (Uzbekistan), tech. fall 10-0
vs. Anastassia Huchok (Belarus) in bronze-medal match

75 kg/165 lbs. – Adeline Gray, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
WIN Zhou Qian (China), 11-10
WIN Yasemin Adar (Turkey), fall 4:43
WIN Hiroe Suzuki (Japan), 2-1
WIN Epp Mae (Estonia), 5-1
vs. Aline da Silva (Brazil) in gold-medal match