Helen Maroulis named 2016 USA Wrestling Women’s Wrestler of the Year

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | May 02, 2017, 3:19 p.m. (ET)
Helen Maroulis receives her 2016 USA Wrestling Women’s Wrestler of the Year award from USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender during the 2017 U.S. World Team Trials in Las Vegas. Photo by Larry Slater.

Helen Maroulis (New York, N.Y./Sunkist Kids) was named 2016 Women's Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the first time that Maroulis has received this prestigious award.

Maroulis made history by becoming the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States, by capturing the 53 kg gold-medal at the Rio Olympic Games. In the championship finals, Maroulis defeated the most decorated wrestler in the history of our sport, three-time Olympic champion and 13-time World champion Saori Yoshida of Japan, 4-1.

She had a dominant performance in Rio, winning five matches against talented opponents. She opened with a 12-1 technical fall over Yulia Blahinya of Ukraine, then rolled up Xuechen Zhong of China in a 10-0 technical fall. She scored a 7-4 quarterfinals win over two-time World bronze medalist Myong Suk-Jong of North Korea. In the semifinals, Maroulis pinned 2009 World champion and six-time World medalist Sofia Mattsson of Sweden in 5:24.

Maroulis won her weight class at the Olympic Trials in Iowa City in April, defeating three-time U.S. World Team member Whitney Conder in the best-of-three Championship Series in two straight matches, both technical falls, winning 10-0 and 11-0. To reach the finals, Maroulis scored three straight technical falls in the Challenge Tournament, putting away Christina Powell, 10-0, Sharon Jacobson, 13-2 and Katherine Fulp-Allen, 11-0.

Two weeks later, Maroulis also won a gold medal at the 1st World Olympic Qualifier in Mongolia, to qualify her weight class for the United States in Rio. She won four straight to win the title, including a 10-0 technical fall in the finals over Maria Prevolaraki of Greece. She opened with an 8-2 win over Alma Jane Valencia of Mexico, then beat Kumari Babita of India in a 10-0 technical fall, and scored a 28 second pin over Lilya Horishna of Ukraine in the semifinals.

At the Beat the Streets “United In The Square” dual meet in Times Square in New York City in May, Maroulis pinned Canadian Samantha Stewart in 2:41.

Maroulis also won a best-of-three series over Conder in a Wrestle-off for a Pan American Olympic Qualifier berth in Iowa City in January, winning with a 10-0 technical fall in bout one, then a forfeit in bout two.

She was undefeated in 2016, and by the end of the year had a 64-match winning streak, which went back more than two years. During the 2016 Olympic year, Maroulis trained in Huntington Beach, Calif., working with coach Valentin Kalika.

In addition to her Olympic gold medal, Maroulis has won three other World medals for the United States, a World gold in 2015, a World silver in 2012 and a World bronze in 2014.

Maroulis won World Cup gold medals in both 2013 and 2015, and was a 2011 Pan American Games champion. She boasts six U.S. Open titles during her career.

Maroulis is one of only three four-time WCWA women’s college national champions, winning three WCWA titles for Simon Fraser University and her first WCWA title while attending Missouri Baptist University.

A native of Rockville, Md., Maroulis was a top age-group star for USA Wrestling, winning three Junior World medals, which included a 2011 silver medals, and bronzes in 2008 and 2010. She made her first Senior World Team in 2008, when she was just 16 years old.

Maroulis currently lives in New York City, where she trains under Valentin Kalika and Kendall Cross at Columbia University’s New York City Regional Training Center.

2016 – Helen Maroulis, New York, N.Y., Sunkist Kids
2015 – Adeline Gray, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2014 – Adeline Gray, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2013 – Alyssa Lampe, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2012 – Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2011 – Ali Bernard, New Ulm, Minn., Gator WC
2010 – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2009 – Deanna Rix, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2008 - Randi Miller, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2007 - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2006 - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2005 - Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Army
2004 - Sara McMann, Lock Haven, Pa., Sunkist Kids
2003 - Patricia Miranda, Colorado Springs, Colo., Dave Schultz WC
2002 - Kristie Marano, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
2001 - Toccara Montgomery, Cleveland, Ohio, Sunkist Kids
2000 - Kristie Marano, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
1999 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1998 - Kristie Stenglein, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
1997 - Sandra Bacher, San Jose, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1996 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Vickie Zummo, Hamburg, N.J., New York AC
1994 - Shannon Williams, Ontario, Calif., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids