Final X Preview: Adeline Gray vs. Korinahe Bullock, 76 kg women

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | June 10, 2018, 10:41 a.m. (ET)
Photo of Adeline Gray with her 2015 World gold medal by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors. Photo of Korinahe Bullock with her 2018 Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament trophy courtesy of McKendree Bearcat WC's Twitter.

Who: Adeline Gray vs. Korinahe Bullock
What: Final X
Where: State College, Pa.
When: June 16
Why: Women’s freestyle World Team spot at 76 kg

Adeline Gray

How she got to Final X:
This was a weight class without a World medalist from 2017. Gray earned her spot in Final X by dominating at the U.S. Open in April, scoring a technical fall over Leilani Camargo-Noane in the finals.

Quite simply, Adeline Gray is a future Hall of Famer who achieved about everything you can achieve in wrestling except one big goal, an Olympic gold medal. As a Colorado high school wrestler in the Cadet age-group, Gray started winning at the Senior level very young. Now just 27 years old, she one of the most experienced stars on Team USA in any style. Gray boasts three World gold medals, five total World medals, and a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. She boasts World gold medals on the Junior, University and Senior levels. That resume gets a wrestler a plaque on the wall at the Hall of Fame in Stillwater. Done deal.

Adeline Gray is not done. Far from it. There was the expected disappointment after placing seventh at the Rio Olympics after coming in as the favorite. That is difficult for any great athlete. But there was more to this story. Gray took the 2017 season off to heal her body, having some surgery and going through rehab. She made some life changes, getting married and accepting an assistant coaching job at Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania. This time away from competition allowed Adeline Gray time to decide what was next for her. When she came back to wrestling in the fall of 2017, she knew what she wanted. Adeline Gray is driven to be the best in the world.

It has been a great season for Adeline so far. She came back with a technical fall win in the Beat the Streets dual against Japan in Los Angeles. Gray won the November 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial, beating 2017 World Teamer Tamyra Mensah-Stock who came up in weight. She was unbeaten in three dual meets at the 2017 World Cup in Russia. She dropped her only bout the season in the finals of the Russia Cup to World medalist Epp Mae of Estonia, who caught her for a pin. Gray won the Flatz Open in Austria, where she was also helping coach SEM wrestlers. At the Klippan Open in Sweden, a ranking event, she powered to the gold medal, including a win over 2017 World champion Yasar Adar of Turkey, 9-6 in the final. At the 2018 World Cup in Japan, she won an individual gold medal with wins in all four dual meets. At the U.S. Open, she won every match handily. Jumping right on the plane after the Open, Gray went to Lima, Peru to win a Pan American Championships title. Most Senior wrestlers are lucky to have these kind of wins during an entire career. Gray has done this since October.

Adeline Gray is back. She faces a talented, raw, young opponent in Final X, a qualifier that would place her on an eighth U.S. Senior World or Olympic Team. It would be fair to call her the overwhelming favorite.

Gray’s World Championship experience:
2008 Junior World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey – GOLD
2009 Junior World Championships in Ankara, Turkey - NINTH
2009 Senior World Championships in Herning, Denmark – FIFTH
2011 Junior World Championships in Bucharest, Romania – SILVER
2011 Senior World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey – BRONZE
2012 Senior World Championships in Strathcona County, Canada – GOLD
2012 University World Championships in Kuortane, Finland – GOLD
2013 Senior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary – BRONZE
2014 Senior World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan – GOLD
2015 Senior World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - GOLD
2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - SEVENTH

Korinahe Bullock

How she got to Final X:
Bullock won a gold medal at the Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, Minn. in May, which punched her ticket to Final X in Lincoln. She defeated Mariah Harris of Campbellsville in the finals series.

Quite simply, there is probably no athlete who has come farther in a shorter period of time than Korinahe Bullock this year in all of wrestling. Just months ago, she was just getting her feet wet on the college scene. This weekend, she will be center mat in Final X, with a chance to compete in the Senior World Championships for Team USA.

This is truly a “Rocky” story in wrestling. Her rapid rise is nothing short of inspiring. This 19-year-old from Illinois has only been wrestling for a few short years. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen much anymore.

Just 11 months ago at the Fargo Junior Nationals, Bullock was seventh at 164 pounds. She chose McKendree for college, a school which has a deep room in the upper weight classes. As a freshman, Bullock won her first WCWA college All-American honor, placing eighth. In the seventh-place match, Bullock lost by two points to her McKendree teammate, Janelle Fuamatu, 5-3.

Then came the springtime, and this is when the potential that Bullock showed blossomed in front of the entire nation. A little over a month after WCWAs, Bullock tried out for the U23 World Team (for athletes 18-23 years old). In an intense series in the finals, she defeated teammate Fuamatu in two straight bouts, 2-1 and 3-2. Bullock had qualified for her first U.S. World Team.

Next up was the Senior level. At the U.S. Open in Las Vegas in April, with a deeper field of talent than in any previous event in her past, Bullock finished a very respectable fourth, losing to WCWA runner-up Mariah Harris of Campbellsville in the bronze bout by pin. Her other loss was in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Leilani Camargo-Naone of Midland, another rapid riser. Included in Vegas was another win over Fuamatu in the consis.

At the Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, two athletes showed up, Bullock and Harris, a rematch of that U.S. Open bronze-medal bout. This time, it went to Bullock in two close wins, a 4-4 criteria win in round one and a 2-1 win in match two. From seventh in Fargo to Final X against one of the greatest of all time in just 11 months. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Bullock’s World Championship experience

• Korinahe Bullock was nine years old when Adeline Gray won her first age-group World gold medal, Gray’s 2008 Junior World title.
• Gray is the first to win Junior, University and Senior World titles. She won her University World title just a few weeks after winning her first Senior World title back in 2012.
• Follow Adeline Gray on Twitter and Instagram @AdelineGray

76 kg/167.5 lbs. WOMEN

Adeline Gray, Kingston, Pa. (New York AC)

High School: Lakewood, Colo. (Bear Creek), Marquette, Mich. and Chatfield, Colo.
College: DeVry, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Born: Jan. 15, 1991
• Three-time World Champion (2012, 2014, 2015)
• Two-time World bronze medalist (2011, 2013)
• Seventh in 2016 Olympic Games
• 2015 Pan American Games champion
• 2014, 2015 and 2018 World Cup champion
• 2012 University World champion
• 2008 Junior World champion
• 2016 Olympic Test Event champion (Brazil)
• Four-time U.S. Open champion (2009, 2011, 2015, 2018)
• 2018 Pan American Championships champion
• 2011 Junior World silver medalist
• Second in 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Korinahe Bullock, Cahokia, Ill. (McKendree Bearcat WC)
College: McKendree High School: Cahokia, Ill. Born: May 26, 1999
• 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champion
• Fourth in 2018 U.S. Open
• 2018 U23 World Team Trials champion
• Eighth in 2018 WCWA Nationals for McKendree Univ.
• Seventh in 2017 Junior Nationals
• Seventh in 2017 UWW Junior Nationals
• Seventh in 2016 UWW Cadet Nationals
• Eighth in 2016 UWW Junior Nationals