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2018 World Championships preview at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 27, 2018, 3:43 p.m. (ET)

Dates of competition: Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25


With the expansion to 10 weight classes for women’s wrestling, there are a lot of options for wrestlers to choose from at the World Championships. Only two kg separates four weight classes (53 kg, 55 kg, 57 kg, 59 kg) and there are athletes who could be successful in a number of these divisions. What makes 57 kg an important weight class is that it is one of the six Olympic weight classes.


The biggest question mark at 57 kg at the Worlds in Budapest will be who will compete for the United States. Helen Maroulis is regarded by many as the best female wrestler on the planet, based not only on her results but also in the dominant way she has competed in recent years. Maroulis has won three straight World level gold medals, all at different weight classes. She was 2015 World champion at 55 kg, 2016 Olympic champion at 53 kg and 2017 World champion at 58 kg. She also boasts a World silver medal in 2012 and a World bronze medal in 2014.


Maroulis must win a Special Wrestle-off on October 6 against 2018 Junior World Team member Alex Hedrick to make the U.S. team for Budapest. Maroulis suffered a concussion competing in the India Pro League this winter, and has spent time away from training dealing with it. She has become a spokesperson about concussions and recovery based upon her experiences. As a returning World champion, she had her spot in Final X set, but could not compete in June due to her injury, which allowed her to delay her championship series against Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament winner Hedrick. We will know the results of this in little over a week.


Hedrick had a fantastic season in 2018, placing second in the WCWA Nationals as a Simon Fraser freshman, then winning the U.S. Open and the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. She also captured a spot on the Junior World Team, but did not finish in the medals at the Junior Worlds in Slovakia. If she wins the spot in Budapest, it will be her first Senior-level World Team.


With or without Maroulis, this weight class has some stars who fully believe in their ability to come home with a gold medal. One of the most talented young stars in women’s wrestling is two-time World medalist Odunayo Adekuoroye of Nigeria, who has moved up to this Olympic weight. She delighted the crowd in Las Vegas at the 2015 World Championships with a spirited dance after winning a bronze medal at 53 kg. She missed the medals at the 2016 Olympics at 53 kg, then moved up to 55 kg and won a World silver medal in 2017. This year, she has won both the African Championships and the Commonwealth Games at 57 kg. Fans will remember the battle she had with Helen Maroulis in May at the Beat the Streets event at South Street Seaport, which Maroulis emerged with a win. We can expect Adekuoroye will continue to improve.


Host Hungary has a serious medal contender in Emese Barka, who claimed a pair of World bronze medals, first in 2013 at 55 kg then in 2017 at 60 kg. Hungarian athletes always seem to compete well when the Worlds are held in Budapest. Barka was third at the 2018 European Championships at 57 kg, and won gold medals at this weight at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria and the Grand Prix of Spain. She also boasts a 2014 University World gold medal.


Moving up from 55 kg is 2017 World bronze medalist Iriyna Kurachkina of Belarus, who was the 2018 European champion at 55 kg, but has competed in her last two tournaments up at 57 kg. In addition to her Senior World medal in 2017, she was also a U23 World silver medalist last year.


Another challenger is Iryna Khariv of Ukraine, a 2014 World bronze medalist at 55 kg. A 2010 University World silver medalist, Khariv won the tough Yasar Dogu International at 57 kg this year. She has competed in four previous Senior World Championships.


A popular young star expected at 57 kg is Grace Bullen of Norway, who has a long age-group history of success. Bullen was a 2014 Cadet World champion and 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion. She was also a 2017 Junior World bronze medalist, and has competed at the Senior World Championships twice. American fans will know Bullen from U.S. women’s college wrestling, as she was a 2018 WCWA champion at 130 pounds in her first year competing for the national champion team at Campbellsville University.


Battsetseg Altansetseg of Mongolia is fresh off a victory at the Alexander Medved International, and has been putting together strong performances all season. After last year’s Senior Worlds, where she did not medal, she won a silver medal at the 2017 U23 World Championships. Add in bronze medals at both the Asian Championships and the Asian Games in 2018 to boot. A 2014 Junior World champion and 2011 Cadet World silver medalist, she is now flexing her muscles at the Senior level.


China has a serious medal contender in Ningning Rong, who was fifth at the 2017 World Championships. Since then, she has been on a roll, winning the Asian Championships, the IvanYarygin Grand Prix in Russia, the China Open and the Poland Open. She was third at the recent Medved International in Belarus.


Both athletes who lost World bronze medal bouts at 55 kg last year to finish fifth have moved up to compete at 57 kg in Budapest, Bilyana Dudova of Belarus and Mathilde Riviere of France. Dudova was the 2018 European champion at 57 kg and also won the 2018 U23 Europeans at 59 kg. Riviere has not been active this year, but did come home with a bronze medal at 57 kg at the 2018 Dan Kolov in Bulgaria.


Russia should be represented by Olga Khoroshavtseva, a 2016 and 2018 Russian National champion. She was a silver medalist at the recent Medved International in Belarus. A 2013 Junior World bronze medalist and 2015 Ivan Yarygin champion, she will be in her first Senior Worlds. A different Russian, Irina Ologonova, is No. 1 in the UWW Ranking Series Standings at 57 kg, but she is not expected to be in Budapest.


Japan does not have a past World medalist at this weight class, with 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Katsuki Sakagami scheduled to compete. Sakagami competed in both the 2014 and 2017 World Championships and fell short of a medal. She was a 2017 Yarygin Grand Prix champion in Russia.


2018 Pan American champion Alejandra Romero Bonilla of Mexico won a silver at this year’s Grand Prix of Spain. 2017 and 2018 European Championships bronze medalist Alyona Kolesnik of Azerbaijan is also capable of winning at this level. Pooja Dhanda of India, who won Commonwealth titles in both 2013 and 2017, will be competitive. Other athletes to watch in the field are Iulia Leorda of Moldova, Giullia Rodrigues of Brazil and In Sun Jong of North Korea.


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




2017 World Championships


58 kg/128 lbs.

Gold - Helen Maroulis (United States); Silver - Marwa Amri (Tunisia); Bronze – Michelle Fazzari (Canada) ; Bronze –Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan); 5th - Ningning Rong (China); 5th - Elin Nilsson (Sweden); 7th - Yessica Oviedo Perez (Dominican Republic); 8th - Iryna Khariv (Ukraine); 9th - Aminat Adeniyi (Nigeria); 10th - Giedre Blekaityte (Lithuania)


2016 Olympic Games

58 kg/128 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Valeria Koblova (Russia); Bronze – Marwa Amri (Tunisia); Bronze – Sakshi Malik (India); 5th – Yuliya Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 5th – Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan); 7th – Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia); 8th – Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia); 9th – Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey); 10th – Petra Olli (Finland)


2015 World Championships

58 kg/128 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Petra Olli (Finland); Bronze – Elif Yesilirmak (Turkey); Bronze – Yuliya Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 5th – Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia); 5th – Johanna Mattsson (Sweden); 7th – Aiym Abdildina (Kazakhstan); 8th – Marianna Sastin (Hungary); 9th – Michelle Fazzari (Canada); 10th – Roksana Zasina (Poland)


2014 World Championships

58 kg/128 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Valeria Kolblova (Russia); Bronze – Anastasiya Huchok (Belarus); Bronze – Elif Jale Ysilirmak (Turkey); 5th – Alli Ragan (USA); 5th – Lisset Antes (Ecuador); 7th – Mimi Hristova (Bulgaria); 8th – Munkhtuya Tungalag (Mongolia); 9th – Zhou Zhangting (China); 10th – Irina Netreba (Azerbaijan)


Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)

1 Irina Ologonova (Russia)

2 Bilyana Zhivkova Dudova (Bulgaria)

3 Ningning Rong (China)

4 Grace Jacob Bullen (Norway)

5 Laura Mertens (Germany)

6 Xingru Pei (China)

7 Battsetseg Altansetseg (Mongolia)

8 Tetyana Kit (Ukraine)

9 Alejandra Romero Bonilla (Mexico)

10 Sara Natami (Japan)