USA Wrestling Women’s Feature – Kr...

Women’s Feature – Kristie Davis, Most World medals by U.S. athlete

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | March 03, 2015, 5:53 a.m. (ET)

Most World medals by a U.S. women’s wrestler with nine

Like some of the top stars in American women’s wrestling history, Kristie Stenglein had a background in judo. She also came from a wrestling family from Albany, N.Y., and Kristie became involved in wrestling, competing on the boys wrestling team at Colonie High School.

Also, while a teenager, Stenglein entered the major women’s wrestling competitions in the United States. In her first year competing on the Senior level in 1996, Stenglein not only made the U.S. Women’s Senior World Team, but she came back with a Senior World silver medal.

From that point on, winning a World medal became a habit for her. After getting married and competing as Kristie Marano, she continued to win a medal every time she made a World Team. In her first nine World Championship appearances, Kristie won nine World straight medals. Two of them were World gold medals (2000 and 2003). There were five World silver medals (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007). Also on her list are two World bronze medals (2002 and 2006).

Her nine medals tied her with Bruce Baumgartner for the most World medals won by an American wrestler, regardless of gender. Although very skilled technically, it was her amazing toughness and competitive nature that made Kristie one of the all-time greats in the sport. When it came down to winning a tough match with a medal at stake, Kristie was one of the best.

Many wrestling fans remember her second World title vividly, because they saw it in person. As a native New Yorker, Kristie was excited that she made the 2003 U.S. World Team at 67 kg/147.5 lbs., when the Freestyle World Championships were hosted in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Kristie was dominant the entire tournament, winning her first four bouts by pin or technical fall. She pinned Jodeen Macgregor of New Zealand in 2:18, beat Martina Zyklova of the Czech Republic in a 10-0 technical fall, then pinned Japan’s Nori Saito in 2:13. In the semis, she pinned Canadian rival Shannon Samler in 2:15. With family and friends in the stands, she won the gold medal, handling Ewelina Pruszko of Poland, 7-1.

She was the only American to win a gold at the 2003 World Championships, and it was Kristie Marano who was on the top of the podium as American wrestling fans were able to hear the U.S. national anthem on their home soil. The U.S. women’s team won seven medals in seven weight class, and finished in a tie for first place with Japan, losing the tie-breaker. The U.S. men’s team was led by silver medalists Cael Sanderson and Kerry McCoy, also placing second.

She was also able to share this emotional victory with her young daughter Kayla.

"For myself, (winning this year) is different because I am only an hour and 45 minutes from my home. Team-wise, we have done tremendous. This team is great. We have worked really hard and we deserve every medal we get. My daughter enjoys it. She loves it. She's my number one fan,” said Marano after her win.

Kristie later went on to complete college at Oklahoma City University, where she wrestled on the women’s varsity team, won two WCWA national titles and was married to assistant coach Link Davis. She made a 10th World Team competing as Kristie Davis in 2010, but did not win a medal that time. Kristie did not reach her goal of competing in the Olympic Games, falling just short at the Olympic Trials in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Yet, no other American athlete has as many World medals in her trophy case as she does, nor has shown her level of consistent excellence throughout a long and amazing career.

Photo shows Kristie Davis on the top of the awards podium at the 2003 Freestyle World Championships in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

This week, will feature a top women’s wrestler who has reached a major milestone for USA Wrestling.