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World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 30, 2015, 9:49 a.m. (ET)

VIDEO: Erin Clodgo (USA) dec. Dzhanan Manolova (BUL), 2015 Dave Schultz Memorial

Date of competition: Thursday, September 10

Ukraine’s Yulia Tkach is the returning World champion at this weight and an emerging star in the sport. Tkach defeated 2012 World Champion Elena Pirozhkova of the USA in the finals last year. Coming into last year’s Worlds, Tkach’s top achievements were a 2012 World University Championships title, and a 2012 European title. This year, she won the tough Klippan Lady Open in Sweden and was second in the European Games.

Holding the No. 1 spot in UWW rankings at this time is Valeria Lazinskaya of Russia, a 2014 World bronze medalist who won the European Games this year. Just 22, Lazinskaya does not have a ton of major international events under her belt, but has shown the ability to compete well at the most important times.

The other returning World bronze medalist is Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia, who has wrestled very well the last few seasons. She was a 2013 and 2014 European champion and won a bronze medal at the 2015 European Games. She is consistently in the medal rounds at the international events she enters, and has developed confidence in her abilities.

Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia has been consistently one of the top stars in the world, boasting a 2010 World title, a 2012 Olympic bronze medal and 2013 World silver medal. She was ninth in last year’s World meet. This year, her big wins were at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and the Mongolian Open.

Maria Mamshuk of Belarus has been impressive this season, winning the Poland Open and the European U23 Championships, winning a bronze medal at the European Games and collecting medals in five straight events. She looks to vastly improve on her seventh place finish at the 2014 World Championships.

2010 World bronze medalist Henna Johansson of Sweden placed fifth in the 2014 World Champinships, and won gold medals in the Grand Prix events in Germany and Spain this year. She was fifth at the 2015 European Games. Johansson brings strength and experience to her game, and has the ability to push for the finals in Las Vegas.

A few top 63 kg stars will be at different weights. American Pirozhkova has moved up to 69 kg after winning four World medals at this weight. Two-time Olympic medalist Jackeline Renteria Castillo of Colombia has been at 63 kg the last three seasons, but is listed at 58 kg on the Worlds roster.

Competing for the United States in her first World Championships on the Senior level is Erin Clodgo, who in recent years has been the top challenger to Pirozhkova in the USA. Clodgo has extensive international experience and appears in the UWW rankings. She competed in two Junior World Championships. This season, she won the Dave Schultz Memorial, and added bronzes at the Pan American Games and the Mongolian Open.

Bulgaria’s Yusein Taybe was a World bronze medalist at 60 kg last year, and has jumped to 63 kg this season. She had World silver medals in 2012 and 2013. Her bronze at the 2015 European Games was at 60 kg, but she is listed at 63 kg on Bulgaria’s roster. She most recently was fifth at 63 kg at the Poland Open. She was also a 2011 Junior World champion.

China will be represented either by Xiluo Zhuoma or Xiaoqian Wang. Zhuoma was a 2011 World champion and 2012 World bronze medalist, and won the Asian Championships in both 2013 and 2015. Wang was 10th at the 2014 World meet, and wont the Grand Prix of Paris this year.

Canada is led by young star Braxton Stone-Papadopoulos, a 2015 Pan American Games champion and a two-time Junior World medalist. She wrestled in the 2013 Senior World Championships as well. Since last year’s Junior Worlds, she has won a medal in seven straight Senior international events.

Although she is 35, Monika Michalik of Poland is still going strong. She won World bronze medals in 2006 and 2007 and wrestled in two Olympic Games, placing fifth in the 2012 Olympics. She was fifth in the 2014 World Championships, then won a silver medal at the 2014 World Military Championships. She won a bronze in the Poland Open, a key tuneup event for Worlds.

Cuba has a legitimate talent in Katherine Vidiaux Lopez, a 2011 Pan American Games champion and a silver medalist at the 2015 Pan American Games. Vidiaux was fifth in the 2010 World Championships and eighth in the 2012 Olympics. Although she does not compete as often as some of the others, her skill set makes her a medal hopeful in every event she enters.

Azerbaijan is bringing 2015 Junior World bronze medalist and Junior European silver medalist Elis Manolova to the event. Kazakhstan’s Ekaterina Larionova won an Asian bronze medal this year, and has five international medals in 2015.

Other athletes to watch include Andrea Simon of Romania, Dalma Caneva of Italy, Sandra Roa of Colombia, Nadine Weinauge of Germany and Anita of India.

This weight is loaded with talent, with no dominant athlete who can be considered a heavy favorite. Tkach will try to win a second straight World title, but don’t be surprised if the champion is somebody who has never won a World title before.

UWW WORLD RANKINGS
1. Valeria Lazinskaya (Russia)
2. Yulia Tkach (Ukraine)
3. Maria Mamshuk (Belarus)
4. Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia)
5. Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia)
6. Xiluo Zhuoma (China)
7. Henna Johansson (Sweden)
8. Soronzonbold Battsetseg (MGL)
9. Inna Trazhukova (Russia)
10. Braxton Stone- Papadopoulos (Canada)
11. Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba)
12. Nadeshda Mushka (Azerbaijan)
13. Wang Xiaoqian (China)
14. Ekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan)
15. Monica Michalik (Poland)
16. Buse Tosun (Turkey)
17. Andrea Simon (Romania)
18. Erin Clodgo (USA)
19. Dalma Caneva (Italy)
20. Ragneta Gurbanzade (Azerbaijan)