USA Wrestling Olympic champ Maroul...

Olympic champ Maroulis reaches World finals, Leathers in bronze bout for USA women at World Championships

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 23, 2017, 9 a.m. (ET)

Helen Maroulis of the USA celebrates after final ankle lace turn to beat Michelle Fazzari of Canada in the semifinals by technical fall and earn a spot in the finals. Photo by Kadir Caliskan.

PARIS, France - Olympic and World champion Helen Maroulis (New York, N.Y./Sunkist Kids) won four matches by technical fall in the morning session to reach the gold-medal finals at 58 kg/127.5 lbs. at the World Championships on Wednesday.

None of her matches during the morning session at the AccorHotels Arena in the first session were even close. She outscored her opponents 42-0. All of this happened two weight classes higher than Maroulis competed in during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

She will face 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri of Tunisia, who became Africa’s first World Championships finalist, after defeating Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan, 8-7 in the other semifinal.

“Things are good. I love wrestling. I had a great team that helped prepare me. I feel really good so far. I think I came in with the same mentality that I always did. I don’t think the weight class changes that. I wrestle for God. If I am at 116 pounds or at 127, I don’t think that changes that,” said Maroulis.

Maroulis came out on fire against Hanbit Kim of Korea, scoring a quick takedown, then executing four straight ankle lace turns for a 11-0 technical fall in just 49 seconds.

Next match was another 10-0 technical fall over Elin Nilsson of Sweden, a 2015 Junior World champion who was fifth in the 2017 European Championships. Maroulis scored a takedown and a turn, another takedown and a turn and then a third takedown to rack up her 10 points.

The next 11-0 technical fall came in the quarterfinals, as Maroulis put away two-time Pan American silver medalist Yessica Ovieda Perez of the Dominican Republic. Maroulis scored four takedowns, a turn and a stepout point on the Pan American rival.

The semifinals was a similar story. Maroulis took her offense to 2016 Olympian and four-time World Team member Michelle Fazzari of Canada for a 10-0 technical fall. It was three takedowns and two ankle lace turns for Maroulis that led to the stoppage in the semifinals.

Maroulis won World gold in 2015, World silver in 2012 and World bronze in 2014. She was a four-time WCWA nationals champion, winning three for Simon Fraser and one for Missouri Baptist.

2015 Junior World bronze medalist Becka Leathers (Choctaw, Okla./Titan Mercury WC) has secured a spot in the bronze-medal round at 55 kg/121 lbs., where she will battle Bilyana Dudova of Bulgaria. Leathers is competing in her first Senior World Championships.

In the first round, Leathers scored a double leg takedown, grabbed the foot and stacked up two-time Junior World medalist Ramona Galambos of Hungary for a quick first-period pin.

She never got her offense untracked in the quarterfinals against 2016 Cadet World champion Haruna Okuno of Japan, losing 8-0. Okuno scored two first-period takedowns to lead 4-0 at the break. Okuno added two stepout points and another takedown in the second period to seal the victory over Leathers.

Okuno's win in the semifinals pulled Becka Leathers back into repechage, where she scored an impressive Carola Rainero of Italy, 13-2. Up 4-2 at the break, Leathers opened it up with a four-point throw and a point on a failed challenge. She closed it out with a takedown and a turn.

Leathers is a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete. She was a 2016 WCWA nationals champion for Oklahoma City University.

Maroulis will be in the gold-medal finals and Leathers in the bronze-medal finals in the evening session, which begin at 7:00 p.m. Paris time, and can be seen live on Trackwrestling.

Two other U.S. wrestlers in their first Senior Worlds were eliminated and did not qualify for repechage: Mallory Velte (Sacramento, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Victoria Francis (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) at 75 kg/163 lbs.

In the opening round, Velte could not stop the takedown attack of two-time Olympian and six-time African champion Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria, losing 10-2. Oborududu scored three first-period takedowns to take a 6-2 lead at the break, then added two more in the second period for the margin of victory. Oborududu failed to reach the finals, which eliminated Velte from the repechage. Velte is a two-time WCWA nationals champion for Simon Fraser.

“I had a good taper. I had a good lead up to this. It was a real hard draw. I was in a real hard quarter(bracket). I wrestled her once in Spain last year. She is really strong and long. I thought I made the adjustments, but I guess not,” said Velte.

Francis, a 2014 Junior World bronze medalist . was beaten in her opener by 2015 World bronze medalist Gulmaral Yerkebayeva of Kazakhstan, 10-3. Using mostly single leg attacks, Yerkebayeva scored five takedowns, with Francis scoring one takedown during the bout. Francis was eliminated and not eligible for repechage after Yerkebayeva lost her next match. Francis won two WCWA national titles for Lindenwood.

“I went out very confident and relaxed and ready to go. I really can’t complain about my performance. There are definitely some areas I need to work on. It was what it was. It is a little more technique that I have been working on it. It’s one of those things where I need more repetitions so I can get to what I need to quicker,” Francis said.

The final four U.S. women weigh in this evening. The USA is in the thick of the team race based upon the first session of action, as no country had more than two finalists, and there were 14 different nations with semifinalists.

At Paris, France, August 23, 2017

U.S. women’s performances

55 kg/121 lbs. - Becka Leathers, Choctaw, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
WIN Ramona Galambos (Hungary), pin
LOSS Haruna Okuno (Japan), 8-0
WIN Carola Rainero (Italy), tech. fall 13-2
Bronze Medal Finals – vs. Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria)

58 kg/127.5 lbs. - Helen Maroulis, New York, N.Y. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Hanbit Kim (Korea), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Elin Nilsson (Sweden), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Yessica Ovieda Perez (Dominican Republic), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Michelle Fazzari (Canada), tech. fall 10-0
Gold Medal Finals – vs. Marwa Amri (Tunisia)

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Mallory Velte, Sacramento, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
LOSS Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria), 10-2

75 kg/165 lbs. - Victoria Francis, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC)
LOSS Gulmaral Yerkebayeva (Kazakhstan), 10-3

Finals pairings
55 kg/121 lbs. - Haruna Okuno (Japan) vs. Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria)
58 kg/128 lbs. - Helen Maroulis (United States) vs. Marwa Amri (Tunisia)
63 kg/138.75 lbs.- Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine) vs. Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia)
75 kg/165 lbs. - Yasemin Adar (Turkey) vs. Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus)

Semifinal results

55 kg/121 lbs.
Haruna Okuno (Japan) tech. fall Bilyana Zhivkova Dudova (Bulgaria), 11-0
Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria) tech. fall Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus), 10-0

58 kg/128 lbs.
Helen Maroulis (United States) tech. fall Michelle Fazzari (Canada), 10-0
Marwa Amri (Tunisia) dec. Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan), 8-7

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine) vs. Hafize Sahin (Turkey), 13-5
Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia) tech. fall Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia), 11-0

75 kg/165 lbs.
Yasemin Adar (Turkey) dec. Epp Mae (Estonia), 6-5
Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus) pin Paliha (China), 2:01