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Freestyle World Cup preview: Women’s Group A matches between Japan, Mongolia and Ukraine

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Dec. 05, 2022, 10:57 a.m. (ET)

Moe Kiyooka (Japan) gets ankle pick on Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine) at the 2022 U23 Worlds.
Moe Kiyooka (Japan) gets ankle pick on Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine) at the 2022 U23 Worlds. Photo by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling

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TheMat.com will preview each of the Group match-ups for the Men’s and Women’s World Cup in Coralville, Iowa, Dec. 10-11. Group pairings are based upon team placements at the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in September.

We start continue with Women’s Freestyle Group A, which features No. 1 Japan, No. 4 Mongolia and No. 5 Ukraine. Japan brings a very young team to the World Cup, a glimpse of the future of this loaded nation with considerable depth. Both Mongolia and Ukraine are bringing many of their best current Senior athletes. It will be interesting to see if this Japan team is ready for prime time, or if experience will rule the roost in Group A.

Saturday, December 10, 10:00 a.m. – Japan vs. Mongolia

There is a reason that Japan is a perennial power in women’s wrestling. Although this team is untested at the Senior level, there are six athletes who have won age-group World titles, including three who have won multiple age-group World titles. In comparison, Mongolia has nine past Senior World medalists on its two-deep roster.

Japan opens with two-time U17 World champion Hanano Sakurai, who will have an extreme test with two-time Senior World medalist Otgonjargal Dolgorjav. At 53 kg, Mongolia brings with past World medalists, either Bolortuya Bat-Ochir or Khulan Batkhuyag to face 2020 Klippan Open champion Rino Kataoka. The 55 kg match should by dynamite, with three-time age-group World champion Moe Kiyooka of Japan against 2013 World silver medalist Sumiya Erdenechimeg. Mongolia will need a good showing in the light weights to keep pace in this dual.

Two-time age-group World champion Ruka Natami of Japan and 2021 World silver medalist Davaachimeg Erkhembayar of Mongolia could have a close battle at 55 kg. Khongorzul Boldsaikhan of Mongolia, who was fifth in the 2020 Olympics, will be pushed hard by 2022 U23 World champion Himeka Tokuhara of Japan at 59 kg. Mongolia will be favored at 62 kg, with 2014 World champion and three-time World medalist Tserenchimed Sukhee facing another past U23 World champion Yui Sakano.

This dual meet could be determined in the final four weight classes. Mongolia looks good at 65 kg with fhree-time Senior World bronze medalist Shoovdor Baatarjav, who faces 2018 U20 World champion Miyu Imai. Mongolia has one more Senior World medalist in the lineup at 68 kg, 2021 World bronze medalist Delgermaa Enkhsaikhan, who draws Kumi Kobayishi, who has no World medals. The 72 kg match is a toss-up between two unproven athletes, Yuka Fujikara of Japan and Davaanasan Enk Amar of Mongolia. 2019 U17 World bronze medalist Nodoka Yamamoto finishes up at 76 kg against either Ariunjargal Ganbat or Zagardulam Naigalsuren.

Japan vs. Mongolia
50 kg – Hanano Sakurai (Japan) vs. Otgonjargal Dolgorjav or Namuuntsetseg Tsogt Ochir (Mongolia)
53 kg – Rino Kataoka (Japan) vs. Khulan Batkhuyag or Anudari Nandintsetseg (Mongolia)
55 kg – Moe Kiyooka (Japan) vs. Bolortuya Bat Ochir or Otgonjargal Ganbaatar (Mongolia)
57 kg – Ruka Natami (Japan) vs. Sumiya Erdenchimeg or Erdenesuvd Bat Erdene (Mongolia)
59 kg – Himeka Tokuhara (Japan) vs. Davaachimeg Erkhembayar or Bolortuya Khurelkhuu (Mongolia)
62 kg – Yui Sakano (Japan) vs. Tserenchimed Sukhee or Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia)
65 kg – Miyu Imai (Japan) vs. Purevsuren Ulziisaikhan or Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia)
68 kg – Kumi Kobayashi (Japan) vs. Delgermaa Enkhsaikhan or Urtnasan Gan Ochir (Mongolia)
68 kg – Yuka Fujikura (Japan) vs, Davaanasan Enk Amar or Sarnai Bayarbaatar (Mongolia)
76 kg – Nodoka Yamamoto (Japan) vs. Ariunjargal Ganbat or Zagardulam Naigalsuren (Mongolia)

Saturday, December 10, 3:00 p.m. CT – Ukraine vs. Mongolia

Expect a bruising battle between Ukraine and Mongolia, both teams with veteran stars. If the young Japan team proves not to be strong, this match could determine the Group winner. Most of the matches in this dual meet will be hard to handicap.

Both teams have a past World medalist at 50 kg, Ukraine’s Oksana Livach and Mongolia’s Otgonjargal Dolgorjav, who has medalled the last two years at the Senior Worlds. Mongolia has two past World medalists listed at 53 kg, Bolortuya Bat-Ochir or Khulan Batkhuyag, who faces 2022 Senior World Team member Liilja Mananchuk. The 55 kg match also has a pair of past Senior World medalists, Sumiya Edrenechimeg of Mongolia and Oleksandra Khomenets of Ukraine.

It will stay competitive at 57 kg, as both teams have a Senior World medalist who are past age-group World medalists, Davaachimeg Erkhembayar of Mongolia and Alina Hrushyna Akobiia. Ukraine has a distinct advantage at 59 kg, with 2014 World champion and four-time World medalist Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk facing 2020 Olympian Khongorzul Boldsaikhan. Mongolia brings a World champion at 62 kg, with 2014 World champion and three-time World medalist Tserenchimed Sukhee facing 2022 World bronze medalist Ilona Prokopevniuk of Ukraine.

Shoovdor Baatarjav of Mongolia, a three-time World bronze medalist, battles 2022 European champion Tetiana Sova Rizhko at 65 kg. Mongolia’s Delgermaa Enkhsaikhan, a 2021 World bronze medalist, has five-time Senior World team member Alla Belinska of Mongolia in the 68 kg battle. On paper, Ukraine might have an edge at the 72 kg and 76 kg matches. Three-time age-group World medalist Anastasiya Alpyeyeva of Ukraine faces 2022 Senior World Team member Davaanasan Enk Amar at 72 kg. Two-time age-group World medalist Anastasiia Osniach Shustova faces either Ariunjargal Ganbat or Zagardulam Naigalsuren at 72 kg.

Ukraine vs. Mongolia
50 kg – Oksana Livach (Ukraine) vs. Otgonjargal Dolgorjav or Namuuntsetseg Tsogt Ochir (Mongolia)
53 kg – Lilija Malanchuk (Ukraine) vs. Khulan Batkhuyag or Anudari Nandintsetseg (Mongolia)
55 kg – Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine) vs. Bolortuya Bat Ochir or Otgonjargal Ganbaatar (Mongolia)
57 kg – Alina Hrushyna Akobiia (Ukraine) vs. Sumiya Erdenchimeg or Erdenesuvd Bat Erdene (Mongolia)
59 kg – Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine) vs. Davaachimeg Erkhembayar or Bolortuya Khurelkhuu (Mongolia)
62 kg – Ilona Prokopevniuk (Ukraine) vs. Tserenchimed Sukhee or Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia)
65 kg – Tetiana Sova Rizhko (Ukraine) vs. Purevsuren Ulziisaikhan or Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia)
68 kg – Alla Belinska (Ukraine) vs. Delgermaa Enkhsaikhan or Urtnasan Gan Ochir (Mongolia)
72 kg – Anastasiya Alpyeva (Ukraine) vs. Davaanasan Enk Amar or Sarnai Bayarbaatar (Mongolia)
76 kg – Anastasiia Osniach Shustova (Ukraine) vs. Ariunjargal Ganbat or Zagardulam Naigalsuren (Mongolia)

Saturday, December 10, 6:00 p.m. CT – Japan vs. Ukraine

By this match, both Japan and Ukraine will have competed once, both against Mongolia. We will know more about the young athletes on the Japan team, based upon that first dual meet, as well as the strength of the Ukraine team. Regardless of the outcome of their first match, we can expect this dual meet to be very competitive.

Ukraine opens at 50 kg with a 2018 World bronze medalist, Oksana Livach, who faces a two-time U17 World champion in Hanano Sakurai. The 53 kg match does not have a past World medalist at any level, as 2022 Senior World Team member Lilija Malanchuk of Ukraine faces 2020 Klippan Open champion Rino Kataoka. Ukraine also has more Senior-level experience at 55 kg, with two-time Senior World medalist Oleksandra Khomenets facing three-time age-group World champion Moe Kiyooka of Japan. Kiyooka beat Khomenets by injury default in the first round of the 2022 U23 Worlds. While Japan is traditionally strong in the lightest weight classes, Ukraine has talented entries here.

Alina Hrushyna Akobiia, a 2022 World bronze medalist and five-time age-group World medalist, will be tested by two-time age-group World champion Ruka Natami of Japan at 57 kg. Ukraine’s most accomplished entry, 2014 World champion and four-time Senior World medalist Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk, competes at 59 kg against a 2022 U23 World champion Himeka Tokuhara. 2022 World bronze medalist Ilona Prokopevniuk of Ukraine and 2017 U23 World champion Yui Sakano of Japan will be a competitive match at 62 kg.

2022 European Senior champion and two-time age-group medalist Tetiana Sova Rizhko of Ukraine and 2018 U20 World champion Miyu Imai will wrestle at 65 kg. Ukraine is more experienced in the last three weight classes. At 68 kg, Alla Belinska of Ukraine, who has been on five Senior World Teams, faces young Kumi Kobayashi. Anastasiya Alpyeyeva of Ukraine, who won three age-group World medals, will face 2022 Asian U20 champion Yuka Fujikura. Ukraine’s Anastasia Osniach Shustova, a 2013 U17 World champion, and 2019 U17 World bronze medalist Nodoka Yamamoto of Japan finish off the dual meet at 76 kg.

Japan vs. Ukraine
50 kg – Hanano Sakurai (Japan) vs. Oksana Livach (Ukraine)
53 kg – Rino Kataoka (Japan) vs. Lilija Malanchuk (Ukraine)
55 kg – Moe Kiyooka (Japan) vs. Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine)
57 kg – Ruka Natami (Japan) vs. Alina Hrushyna Akobiia (Ukraine)
59 kg – Himeka Tokuhara (Japan) vs. Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine)
62 kg – Yui Sakano (Japan) vs. Ilona Prokopevniuk (Ukraine)
65 kg – Miyu Imai (Japan) vs. Tetiana Sova Rizhko (Ukraine)
68 kg – Kumi Kobayashi (Japan) vs. Alla Belinska (Ukraine)
68 kg – Yuka Fujikura (Japan) vs. Anastasiya Alpyeva (Ukraine)
76 kg – Nodoka Yamamoto (Japan) vs. Anastasiia Osniach Shustova (Ukraine)

Previous Previews
Women’s Freestyle Group B: USA, CHN, All-World
Men’s Freestyle Group A: USA, MGL, GEO