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2019 World Championships preview at 65 kg/143 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 31, 2019, 7:37 a.m. (ET)

Forrest Molinari of the USA celebrates a win by pin at the 2018 World Championships.

Dates of competition: Wednesday, September 18 and Thursday, September 19

With 65 kg being a non-Olympic weight, many of the top competitors in the 2018 World Championships at this weight are either moving up or moving down into an Olympic weight class. In fact, all four 2018 World medalists at 65 kg will not be at this weight class at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan.

Forrest Molinari of the United States, who placed fifth at the 2018 Worlds at 65 kg, will return seeking her first World title. Molinari was second in the UWW Ranking Series at this weight, and slides into the top seed at 65 kg because No. 1 Petra Olli of Finland is switching weights. Molinari has put together a very solid 2019 season, winning medals in two UWW Ranking events, with a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu in Turkey and a bronze medal at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. She also reached a medal match by taking fifth at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia. Molinari has age-group World experience at the Junior and U23 levels. She is tough as nails, competes with great emotion and is motivated to the extreme. She will be fun to watch, as always.

The athlete expected to have the No. 2 seed is Aina Temirtassova of Kazakhstan, who was fifth in the UWW Ranking Series and moved up. The events which helped her earn the seed included medals in three Ranking events, a silver at the City of Sassari International in Italy and a bronze at the Yasar Dogu, plus a bronze medal at the Asian Championships. She has competed in five age-group World events, and taken fifth in four of them (2017 Junior Worlds, plus the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Cadet Worlds). This will be her first Senior World Championships.

You have to dip down to No. 11 in the Ranking Series standings to get the expected No. 3 seed, Elis Manolova of Azerbaijan. Her ranking points came from an impressive gold medal at the European Championships at this weight class. Manolova won a silver medal at 65 kg at the 2018 U23 World Championships. Her other top age-group achievements were bronze medals at the 2015 and 2016 Junior World Championships. She is entered in her third Senior Worlds, and seeks her first medal.

Gaining the No. 4 seed should be Bolortuya Khurelkhuu of Mongolia, who finished 17th in the UWW Ranking Series at 65 kg. Khurelkhuu was eighth in the 2018 World Championships at this weight class. She has won medals in the last four international events she entered this year, none which were in the Ranking Series. Included was a silver at the Poland Open, a top Worlds tune-up event, plus silvers at the President’s Cup of Buryatia in Russia, the Mongolia Open and the U23 Asian Championships.

It would not be smart for athletes to believe that because many athletes switched weight classes since last year that this weight will not be competitive. In fact, there will be some strong talents who are looking to break through in a big way with this opportunity to compete at the Senior Worlds.

Moving up from 62 kg is Malin Johanna Mattsson of Sweden, who boasts a pair of World bronze medals. She was third at the 2010 Worlds at 59 kg and third at the 2017 Worlds at 60 kg. She wrestled all year at 62 kg, quite successfully, but Sweden is entering another past World medalist, Henna Johansson, down at 65 kg. Mattsson has a knack for reaching medal matches at the Senior Worlds, also adding fifth place finishes at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. It will be interesting to see how she handles moving up in weight.

Getting an opportunity to represent Japan at her first Senior Worlds is Naomi Ruike, who was second at the 2019 Asian Championships at this weight class and also added a bronze at the respected Klippan Lady Open this season. Her top age-group achievements was a 2017 Cadet World silver medal and a 2018 Asian Junior Championships gold medal.

China will be represented by 2018 U23 World bronze medalist Xiaoquian Wang. Her first major international appearance came in the 2014 Senior Worlds, when she placed 10th, and this will be her second Senior Worlds opportunity. In 2017, Wang was third at the Asian Senior Championships. With a small resume at the Senior level, many of her opponents may not have faced Wang in the past.

Yuliana Yaneva of Bulgaria will get her first appearance at the Senior World Championships. She boasts a pair of age-group World medals, a silver medal at the 2017 Junior Worlds and a bronze medal at the 2014 Cadet Worlds. Yaneva competed at 65 kg in all three of her international events in 2019.

2019 Pan American silver medalist Jessica Brouillette of Canada has previous Senior World experience, competing down at 62 kg at the 2018 Worlds. She was a bronze medalist at the 2016 University Worlds. Brouillette won the Canada Cup this year, placed second at the Klippan Lady Open and won the Dave Schultz Memorial, all down at 62 kg.

An athlete dropping down in weight this year is Navjot Kaur of India, who was eighth at 68 kg at the 2018 World Championships. She has been wrestling at 65 kg this season, and won a bronze medal at the Medved International at Belarus and a fifth place at the Asian Championships. This will be her eighth appearance at the Senior Worlds, with her best previous finish being fifth at the 2012 World Championships. She did win a Junior World bronze medal in 2009.

Ukraine will enter Irina Koliadenko, who won bronze medals at both the 2018 U23 World Championships and the 2018 Junior World Championships. She won a silver medal at the 2019 Poland Open at 65 kg, which is a top tune-up event for the World meet. Like others in the field, this is her first Senior World appearance.

Other potential challengers include two-time Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix bronze medalist Natalya Fedoseeva of Russia., two-time World University medalist Gabriella Sleisz of Hungary and 2019 European Junior silver medalist Kadriye Aksoy of Turkey.

With a lot of athletes on the scene at 65 kg, you can be sure that there will be some new World medalists who emerge her at 65 kg. Somebody will have to have a very strong tournament to stand on the top of the podium, and it will most probably be the person who comes in best prepared and confident.

RECENT WORLD RESULTS

2018 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold - Petra Olli (Finland); Silver - Danielle Lappage (Canada); Bronze - Ayana Gempei (Japan) ; Bronze - Irina Netreba (Azerbaijan); 5th - Ritu (Japan); 5th - Forrest Molinari (USA); 7th - Chuying Tang (China); 8th - Bolortuya Khurelkhuu (Mongolia); 9th - Adela Hanzlickova (Czechia); 10th - Mariia Kuznetsova (Russia)

This was a new weight class starting in 2018

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)

1 - Petra Maarit Olli (Finland), 88
2 - Forrest Molinari (United States), 54
3 - Mariia Kuznetsova (Russia), 42
4 - Danielle Suzanne Lappage (Canada), 40
5 - Aina Temirtassova (Kazakhstan), 36
6 - Henna Katarina Johansson (Sweden), 30
7 - Iryna Petrovna Netreba (Azerbaijan), 25
8 - Ayana Gempei (Japan), 25
9 - Bolortungalag Zorigt (Mongolia), 24
10 - Ritu Malik (India), 20