2018 World Championships preview at 72 kg/158.5 lbs in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 12, 2018, 10:02 a.m. (ET)
Erin Clodgo, competing at the 2016 Pan American Olympic Qualifier, is entering her second World Championships but at a new weight class. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Dates of competition: Tuesday, October 23 and Wednesday, October 24

At one time, 72 kg was the highest weight class in women’s wrestling and was one of the four original Olympic weights. But starting in 2014, UWW raised the highest weight class to 75 kg, which is where most of the top stars gravitated towards. With the expansion to 10 weight classes this year, UWW revived the 72 kg weight class as a non-Olympic weight, placing it between two Olympic divisions at 68 kg and 76 kg.

With that in mind, the field at 72 kg in Budapest is not expected to be super large. There will be a variety of athletes who have had past success who have found their way to Budapest seeking a run at the podium, as well as some younger athletes who enter their first Senior Worlds with high expectations.

One of the most experienced in this group is 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus of Poland, who is 35, and started competing at the Senior level back in 2003. While her Olympic bronze is her only Senior-level medal, she has competed in two Olympic Games and five previous Senior Worlds, with a number of medals at the Military World Championships and the University Worlds. This year, at the new 72 kg weight class, Wieszczek-Kordus has won five international medals and claimed a No. 4 seed at the World Championships. She won gold medals at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, the Poland Open and the Ion Corneanu in Romania, and a silver at the Grand Prix of Spain.

Winning a 2017 World bronze medal at 75 kg was Justina Di Stasio of Canada, who will compete at 72 kg in Budapest. This year, she won a silver at the Canada Cup and a bronze at the Grand Prix of Spain, up at 76 kg. Canada will be represented at 76 kg by 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe, giving them a powerful 1-2 punch at the highest weights in the women’s tournament. Di Stasio has impressive achievements including a 2016 University World gold medal and three straight Pan American Championships gold medals (2015-17). She also won a 2015 Pan American Games silver medal, and wrestled in the 2015 Senior World Championships.

Three-time World bronze medalist Nasanburmaa Ochirbat of Mongolia is another long-time star who seeks a place on the podium. She won her World bronze medals in 2008, 2011 and 2012. She reached the medal rounds at the 2015 World Championships, placing fifth at 69 kg. Moving up in weight this year, Ochirbat has won three medals at major events, with silver medals at the 2018 Asian Championships and the Mongolian Open, plus a bronze medal at the Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia. Ochirbat was eighth in the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2008 Olympic champion and 2007 World champion from China, Wang Jiao, finished her career at the 2012 Olympic Games, when she finished fifth. Starting in 2016, another Chinese athlete named Wang Jiao began competing at a high level at 69 kg. During the 2018 season, Wang won gold medals at the Medved International in Poland and the Canada Cup champion, while placing third in the Poland Open. She is also a 2016 Asian Senior champion.

Earning the No. 1 seed at this weight class through the UWW Ranking Series is Alexandra Anghel of Romania, who is entering her first Senior World meet. Anghel secured bronze medals in 2018 at the European Championships, the Poland Open and the European U23 Championships. A 2017 Junior World bronze medalist, Anghel has a great opportunity to establish herself as a force in Budapest.

The United States will bring one of its most experienced talents, 2015 World Team member Erin Clodgo, who has been active on the Senior level since 2010. Clodgo made two Junior World Teams early in her career, then became a staple on the U.S. Senior scene for two full Olympic cycles. She made her Senior World team at 63 kg, and had some legendary battles with 2012 World champion Elena Pirozhkova in the U.S. Trials process at that weight class. After placing second to Pirozhkova at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Clodgo moved up in weight to 75 kg in 2017. This new 72 kg weight class has worked out well for her, and she secured a second World Team berth with an exciting win in Final X over young talent Rachel Watters.

Japan is bringing a rising young wrestler, Naruha Matsuyuki, who is in her first Senior World event. Her three previous age-group World finishes were a silver medal at the 2017 U23 Worlds, a bronze medal at the 2018 Junior Worlds and a fifth place finish at the 2017 Junior Worlds. With limited experience at the Senior level, she will be looking for a breakthrough in Budapest against more experienced opponents.

Also new to the Senior Worlds is 2018 Russian National champion Tatyana Kolesnikova Morozova, who was a Junior World silver medalist back in 2013. Morozova has been one of the most active athletes at 72 kg this year, giving her a No. 3 seed at the weight. She won the Mongolia Open, added silver medals at the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden, the Medved International in Bulgaria and the Canada Cup, and was fifth at the Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia.

2016 Olympian Maria Selmaier of Germany has competed in five previous Senior World Championships, with a top placement of eighth in both 2010 and 2012. She won a silver medal this year at 72 kg at the Ion Corneanu Memorial in Romania.

Winning the 2018 European Championships silver medal was Anastasia Zimiankova of Belarus, who later in the season placed second in the European U23 Championships and third in the Junior World Championships. She is competing in her first Senior World meet.

Settling in at 72 kg for Ukraine is Alla Belinskaya, a 2015 Junior World bronze medalist who competed in the 2017 Senior World Championships at 69 kg. Her big win at 72 kg this year was gold at the Ukrainian Memorial International, and she added another gold medal at the Yasar Dogu International in Turkey down at 68 kg. She also boasts a 2017 World Military gold medal.

2014 Junior World bronze medalist Zhamila Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan won a bronze medal at the 2018 Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix at 72 kg, and also a silver medal at the Mongolia Open at 68 kg. Beste Altug of Turkey, who was fifth in the 2018 European Championships, won the tough Yasar Dogu International in preparation for the Worlds. Others to watch are Rajni of India and Nikoletta Szmolka of Hungary.

Note: TheMat.com will be posting daily weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

Note: From 2014-2017, there was no matching weight class, with 69 kg below this and 75 kg above this.

2013 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Fengliu Zhang (China); Silver – Natalia Vorobeva (Russia); Bronze – Adeline Gray (USA); Bronze – Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 5th – Yasemin Adar (Turkey); 5th – Svetlana Saenko (Moldova); 7th – Erica Wiebe (Canada); 8th – Cynthia Vescan (France); 9th – Hiroe Suzuki (Japan); 10th – Epp Mae (Estonia)

2012 Olympic Games
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Silver – Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Bronze – Gouzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Madier Unda Gonzales (Spain); 5th – Jiao Wang (China); 5th – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); 7th – Laure Ali Annabel (Cameroon); 8th – Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 9th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 10th – Svetlana Saenco (Moldova)

2012 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); Silver – Guzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); Bronze – Qing Xu (China); 5th - Nataliya Palamarchuk (Azerbaijan); 5th - Yasemin Adar (Turkey); 7th - Ekatina Bukina (Russia); 8th - Maria Selmaier (Germany); 9th - Oksana Vashchuk (Ukraine); 10th - Aline Da Silva (Brazil)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)

1 Alexandra Anghel (Romania)
2 Anna Jenny Fransson (Sweden)
3 Tatiana Kolesnikova Morozova (Russia)
4 Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland)
5 Masako Furuichi (Japan)
6 Kunming Wang (China)
7 Yue Han (China)
8 Anastasiya Zimiankova (Belarus)
9 Veronica Keefe (Canada)
10 Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia)