Special Wrestle-Offs set for women’s freestyle Pan Am Olympic Qualifier spots on Feb. 8

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Jan. 13, 2020, 3:59 p.m. (ET)
Jenna Burkert of the USA competing at the 2019 Pan American Games. Photo courtesy of United World Wrestling.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Wrestling has announced Special Wrestle-offs for the women’s freestyle Pan American Olympic Qualifier spots, which will take place Feb. 8 in Atlanta, Ga., alongside the 2020 WCWA Championships at the Cobb County Civic Center.

Hosting an Olympic-level event alongside the WCWA Championships is a fitting illustration of the past, present, and future of women’s collegiate wrestling in the United States,” Life head coach Ashley Sword said. “Out of the eight athletes competing at the Pan-Am wrestle off, six of them competed in the WCWA National Championships. For myself and some of the other women who coach at the collegiate level, this event brings us full circle as we support our athletes to chase the dreams we once had ourselves. For our athletes it is a chance to compete alongside their idols and to see what their futures may hold.”

The Pan American Olympic Qualifier is set from March 13-15 in Ottawa, Canada. The top-two countries in each weight class will earn a bid to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. So far in women’s freestyle, the USA has two of the six women’s freestyle Olympic weights qualified. To be qualified is 50 kg, 53 kg, 57 kg and 62 kg.

Because Tamyra Mensah-Stock and Adeline Gray won World titles at the 2019 World Championships in Kazakhstan, the 68 kg and 76 kg weight classes for the USA have already been qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Per the 2020 Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier procedures for women’s freestyle, the 2019 Senior World Team Member (Olympic weights) will be the U.S. representative; however, a Senior World medalist, at any weight, within this quad (2017-2019) will be given the opportunity to challenge the 2019 Senior World Team Member for the spot.

Four past Senior World medalists from this quad have confirmed their intentions to wrestle off for one of the four eligible weights, including 2018 Senior World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt, 2019 World champion Jacarra Winchester, 2017 World silver medalist Alli Ragan and 2017 World champion Helen Maroulis.

Hildebrandt will challenge five-time World Team member Whitney Conder for the 50 kg spot in a best-of-three series.

At 53 kg, there will be a three-woman wrestle-off for the spot. Because Hildebrandt vacated her spot at 53 kg, Winchester, who is moving down from 55 kg, will advanced to the finals of the bracket as a returning World champ. Winchester will face the winner of a prelim bout between 2019 National Team members No. 2 Katherine Shai and No. 3 Haley Augello.

Another three-woman wrestle off will play out at 57 kg. As the 2019 World Team member, Jenna Burkert will sit in the finals. Burkert will face the winner of a prelim match between 2016 Olympic champion and 2017 World champion Helen Maroulis and two-time World silver medalist Alli Ragan.

2019 World Team member Kayla Miracle will be the 62 kg U.S. representative at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier as her spot was not challenged.

The preliminary rounds will feature one match at the respective weights and all finals will be a best-of-three series.

“I would like to thank National Coach Terry Steiner and USA Wrestling for giving Life University the opportunity to host this event and play a role in the 2020 Olympic journey,” Sword said.

Below is a schedule of how the wrestle-offs will play out.

2020 PAN AMERICAN OLMYPIC QUALIFIER WRESTLE-OFFS
at Life University (WCWA Championships), Feb. 8, 2020


50kg
4 p.m. - Whitney Conder vs. Sarah Hildebrandt (Best of 3 series)

53kg
9 a.m. - Katherine Shai vs. Haley Augello (prelim match)
4 p.m. - Shai/Augello winner vs. Jacarra Winchester (Best of 3 series)

57kg
9 a.m. - Helen Maroulis vs. Alli Ragan (prelim match)
4 p.m. - Maroulis/Ragan winner vs. Jenna Burkert (Best of 3 series)