#WomensWednesday: A confident Tamyra Mensah-Stock is on a tear heading into the 2019 Worlds

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | June 12, 2019, 6:50 p.m. (ET)
Tamyra Mensah-Stock squares off against Alexandria Glaude during Final X: Rutgers last week. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

In 2018, U.S. women’s wrestling star Tamyra Mensah-Stock felt good about her chances at the World Championships in Budapest in her second trip to the World level. She had seen some great progress during the season.

She opened up with two technical falls, then drew another young talent, France’s Koumba Larroque in the semifinals. Mensah-Stock dropped a close 2-1 decision in which she was not able to get her offense going, nor get into the rhythm of her explosive style.

Mensah-Stock rebounded to beat Olivia DiBacco of Canada, 7-4, for the bronze, which was her first World-level medal. But that loss to Larroque may have turned on a new switch on within Mensah-Stock.

“I think it was that loss at the semifinals at the World Championships when I did not wrestle. I stopped myself. That was the game-changer for me, when I didn’t even wrestle. I thought about it for several months. I thought, ‘you know what, the only thing stopping me from getting where I want to go is me.’ I am going to go out there and wrestle my butt off. Why leave the mat with regrets? Please, I don’t want to do that again,” she said.

Since that loss in Budapest, Mensah-Stock has been on a tear, winning every event that she has entered. The streak has been 19 straight, which has included 14 victories by either technical fall or pin. She has been dominant.

Mensah-Stock is a perfect 3-for-3 at the UWW Ranking Tournaments, winning gold medals at them all. She captured the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia in January, competing up a weight class at 72 kg. It was her third straight Yarygin title, the first American to ever do that.

She dropped down to her normal 68 kg to win the second UWW Ranking Tournament, the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria in March, then won again at the Sassari City International in Italy in May.

Add in a gold medal at the Pan American Championships in Argentina in April, which also scored more UWW Ranking Series points. In March, she scored a technical fall over Maria Garcia of Mexico in the Beat the Streets Los Angeles Benefit.

This past Saturday, Mensah-Stock handled 2018 U23 World bronze medalist Alexandria Glaude in two straight bouts in Final X, with a pin in 4:50 and a 10-0 technical fall. She is heading to her third straight World Championships. As always, Mensah-Stock has been humble about her success.

“I don’t take too much pride. I just forget all of those accolades and just go out there and continue wrestling. I don’t worry about what I did, which is how I guess I accomplished what I accomplished. I say ‘Help me Lord. Let’s do it again. I have been working in the wrestling room. I want to go out there and showcase what you have given to me.’ I forget about all that,” she said.

She credits her mental approach to wrestling as giving her an edge against her opponents this year.

“Going back to last year, the mental game I have been working on, I continue working on it. It has made me better this year, compared to last year. I am excited,” she said.

For Mensah-Stock, it all has to do with self-belief and confidence. Earlier in her career, she lacked in that area. Now, she is able to accept that she is skilled, motivated and prepared, and truly deserves to win.

“Believe in myself. Believe in myself and the process. I am working hard every day on the mat. I want that to shine when I get on that podium. I want that to be the reason. I want everybody to see, ‘ahh, yeah, she has been working hard. There is a difference,’” she said.

She also gives a lot of credit to her coaches, teammates, sponsors and everybody who has encouraged her along the way.

“Since I can remember, I have always had a great support system. The fact is that since I have joined wrestling, it has only increased. When they believe in me, I believe I can do what I am capable of, which is winning gold at the World Championships and winning gold at the Olympics. It has taken a while, and it feels so good,” she said.

With her victory over Glaude on the books, Mensah-Stock is expected to compete in the Pan American Games this summer, and may even enter the fourth UWW Ranking Tournament in Turkey. She will work that out with her coaches as part of her preparation for the 2019 World Championships in September in Kazakhstan.

Mensah-Stock will continue doing what is working so well for her so far in 2019.

“I am going to keep training hard and do my best,” she said. “I am going to believe in myself and focus in on what I can do.”

VIDEO: Mensah-Stock interview prior to Final X

VIDEO: Mensah-Stock after her two-match sweep in Final X; Rutgers