2019 World Championships preview at 68 kg/149.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 03, 2019, 1:17 p.m. (ET)
Tamyra Mensah-Stock of the USA enters the 2019 World Championships with a No. 2 seed.

Dates of competition: Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20

The 68 kg weight class has a combination of exciting young talent and some proven stars. The reigning World champion is Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine, who put together her best season last year. Cherkasova also boasts a 2010 World bronze medal. She enters the World Championships in Nur-Sultan as the No. 1 seed, adding a 2019 European Championships gold medal and a bronze at a UWW Ranking Tournament, the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. Cherkasova also was third at the 2019 European Games. A 2008 Junior World bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian, she will come into the Worlds with confidence and experience.

The 2018 World silver medalist was Koumba Larroque of France, who lost a wild 15-10 match to Cherkasova in the 2018 World finals in Budapest. Larroque also boasts a 2017 Senior World bronze medal. What Larroque won’t have this year is a seed, as she finished only sixth in the UWW Ranking Series after missing the regular season. Her only tournament in 2019 was the Poland Open, a top Worlds tune-up, where she won a gold medal up at 72 kg. Larroque had a wildly successful age-group career, winning a World gold every year from 2015-2018. (Cadet in 2015, Junior in 2016, U23 in 2017 and Junior in 2018). It will be seen if she shows any rust after being out most of this season.

Perhaps the athlete with the most momentum coming into the Senior Worlds is 2018 World bronze medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock of the United States. She will have the No. 2 seed, after a winning the first three UWW Ranking Tournaments, the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia, the Dan Kolov and the City of Sassari International in Italy. She was up at 72 kg for the Yarygin, and none of those points counted toward her seed. She added a 2019 Pan American Championships gold medal and 2019 Pan American Games gold medal. Mensah-Stock has always had great physical skills and continues to improve in all aspects of her wrestling including her self-confidence and focus. She will be hard to beat at the World level if she continues wrestling like she has done all of 2019.

Perhaps the biggest addition to this weight class this season is 2016 Olympic champion and 2017 World champion Sara Dosho of Japan, who did not wrestle at the Worlds last year. She boasts three other World medals, a 2014 World silver medal and 2013 and 2015 World bronze medals. Her lone international event in 2019 was a gold-medal victory at the Asian Championships. Dosho will not be seeded, which means she could hit any of the other contenders at any time and blow up her side of the bracket.

There is a two-time World Champion in the field, with Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia coming into the Worlds with the No. 4 seed. Soronzonbold won her World gold medals in 2010 and 2015 and also boasts a 2013 World silver medal and a 2012 Olympic bronze medal. She placed seventh at the 2018 World Championships at this weight class. She won a gold at this weight class at the Ivan Yarygin, which helped her pick up enough points for a seed. Although a disappointing fifth at the Asian Championships in April, she heads into the Worlds with a gold-medal effort at the Poland Open.

2012 World champion Jenny Fransson of Sweden is another veteran with an extensive resume. She won a 2016 Olympic bronze medal, along with a fifth-place finishes at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Fransson won a bronze medal at the European Championships and placed fifth at the European Games at 68 kg in 2019, and claimed gold medals at the Klippan Lady Open and City of Sassari International up at 72 kg.

Two-time World medalist Feng Zhou of China is also a serious title contender, placing third at the 2018 World Championships and second at the 2015 World Championships. The highlights of her season so far has been a silver medal in the Asian Championships and a gold medal at the Klippan Lady Open. She will also not have a seed, which could cause an interesting early matchup at Worlds. A past Junior World champion and Junior World bronze medalist, Zhou represented China in the 2012 Olympic Games.

The No. 3 seed at Worlds was secured by 2016 Olympic silver medalist Maryia Mamashuk of Belarus, who was fifth at the 2018 World Championships. Her ranking points this year came from a gold medal at the final UWW Ranking Tournament, the Yasar Dogu in Turkey, plus a fifth place at the City of Sassari International. Mamashuk has been competing on the Senior level since 2012, which gives her an experience edge over many in the field.

Another veteran talent in the field is 2014 and 2017 World bronze medalist Anastasia Grigorjeva of Latvia, who missed the 2018 season and has moved up in weight class to wrestle at 68 kg this year. She comes off a huge performance by winning a gold at the European Games, and also added a bronze medal at the European Championships at her new weight class. A two-time Olympian, Grigorjeva brings a wealth of experience to Nur-Sultan.

Danielle Lappage of Canada, who won a 2018 World silver medal at 65 kg, has moved up to 68 kg this year. She has won a gold or silver medal in every tournament she has entered in 2019, all at her new weight class. Lappage won a gold at the Canada Cup, and silvers at the German Grand Prix, the Yasar Dogu and the Poland Open. A 2010 Junior World champion and a 2016 Olympian, Lappage is adding even more firepower in an already loaded field.

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Ekaterina Larionova of Kazakshtan has wrestled only a few times since winning her Olympic medal at 63 kg in Rio. After missing the medal rounds at the weight class at the 2018 Worlds, she has competed in only one event in 2019, a DNP at the Poland Open. She also has a 2013 Senior World bronze medal and a number of age-group World medals in her background.

2008 Olympic bronze medalist Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus of Poland, who is 36, has worked her way back down to 68 kg after competing at 72 kg last year. A skilled veteran, her best efforts at 68 kg this year were a silver at the Grand Prix of Spain and a bronze at the Dan Kolov. Nobody in the field has more experience under her belt, including two Olympic Games appearances.

Buse Tosun of Turkey won a 2018 World bronze medal up at 72 kg, and added a 2018 U23 World title. She won two UWW Ranking Tournaments this year up at 72 kg, the Dan Kolov and the Yasar Dogu. Her one event down at 68 kg was at the 2019 European Games, where she did not reach the medal rounds. A 2016 Olympian, Tosun also won a 2016 World University title.

Anastasia Bratchikova of Russia was a 2019 European Games silver medalist and third at the City of Sassari International. A 2008 Junior World champion, Bratchikova has not won a medal in her four previous Senior World appearances.

2018 U23 World champion and 2017 Junior World silver medalist Yudaris Sanchez Rodriguez of Cuba is among the young talents to watch. She won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Championships and a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Another tough draw would be Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria, who was fifth at the 2017 World Championships.
A 2012 and 2016 Olympian, she boasts nine Senior African Championships titles, plus a 2015 All-African Games gold medal. In 2018, she has added a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

A 2018 World bronze medalist at 65 kg, Irina Netreba of Azerbaijan placed fifth at the 2019 European Championships. Also moving up in weight this year is Adela Hanzlickova of Czechia, who won a 2019 European silver medal at 68 kg. She also boasts a 2017 U23 World bronze medal.

Another veteran to watch is 2014 Junior World silver medalist and a 2013 Junior World bronze medalist Dalma Caneva of Italy. Also competing is Anna Schell of Germany, who won a 2019 European silver medal up at 72 kg, and also claimed a bronze medal at 68 kg at the 2019 Yasar Dogu in Turkey. Three-time African champion and 2016 Olympian Samar Amer Ibrahim Hamza of Egypt is also in the field. Ilana Kratysh of Israel, a 2016 Olympian and 2015 European Games silver medalist, is in the draw.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2018 World Championships
68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Gold - Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine); Silver - Koumba Larroque (France); Bronze - Feng Zhou (China); Bronze - Tamyra Mensah-Stock (USA); 5th - Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 5th - Olivia Di Bacco (Canada); 7th - Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); 8th - Kaur Navjot (India); 9th - Dalma Caneva (Italy); 10th - Viktoria Bobeva (Bulgaria)

2017 World Championships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold - Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver - Aline Focken (Germany); Bronze – Koumba Larroque (France) ; Bronze – Yue Han (China) ; 5th - Martina Kuenz (Austria); 5th - Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 7th - Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 8th - Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus); 9th - Tamyra Mensah (USA); 10th - Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia)

2016 Olympic Games
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Enas Ahmed (Egypt); 5th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 7th – Buse Tosun (Turkey); 8th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 9th – Aline Focken (Germany); 10th – Gilda Maria De Oliveira (Brazil)

2015 World Championships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Silver – Feng Zhou (China); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan)
Bronze – Aline Focken (Germany); 5th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 7th – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 8th – Enas Moustafa (Egypt); 9th – Martina Kuenz (Austria); 10th – Elena Pirozkhova (USA)

2014 World Championships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Aline Focken (Germany); Silver – Sara Dosho (Japan); Bronze – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Diana Gonzalez (Mexico); 7th – Alina Makhunia (Ukraine); 8th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 9th – Leidy Izquierdo (Colombia); 10th – Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland)

2013 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); Silver – Stacie Anaka (Canada); Bronze – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan); 5th – Zhanting Zhou (China); 5th – Aline Focken (Germany); 7th – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 8th – Leidy Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia); 9th – Gozal Zutova (Azerbaijan); 10th – Veronica Carlson (USA)

2012 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Adeline Gray (USA); Silver – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); Bronze – Yan Hong (China); Bronze – Yoshiko Inoue (Japan); 5th - Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); 5th - Kaur Navjot (India); 7th - Darya Khamdiyeva (Kazakhstan); 8th - Nadya Sementsova (Azerbaijan); 9th - Irina Bogdanova (Russia); 10th - Ilana Kratysh (Israel)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeds)
1 - Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine), 92
2 - Tamyra Mensah-Stock (United States), 73
3 - Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus), 44
4 - Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia), 44
5 - Feng Zhou (China), 41
6 - Koumba Selene Fanta Larroque (France), 40
7 - Olivia Grace Di Bacco (Canada)
8 - Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria), 30
9 - Adela Hanzlickova (Czechia), 30
10 - Danielle Suzanne Lappage (Canada), 26