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Adeline Gray ready to become ‘face of women’s wrestling’
(Editor’s Note: On May 31 and June 1, USA Wrestling hosted Phase I of the World Team Trials in Madison, Wisc., where 12 of the 24 spots on the 2014 World Team were filled in either men’s or women’s freestyle. Six Greco berths will be filled June 13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., while the remaining six spots over the three styles will be determined during the Junior/Cadet Nationals, July 19-24, in Fargo, N.D. In honor of this seven-week period of World Team Trials events, WIN is providing features on those who have qualified to compete in Uzebekistan in September.)
By Mike Finn
Adeline Gray proved she did not have to compete at this year’s U.S. Open in April to prove she was America’s best women’s wrestler at 75 kilograms/165 pounds … when she won a pair of Championship Series victories against 2014 Open champion Jackie Cataline, June 1, in Madison, Wisc.
“I don’t really care about that ‘sit-out’ spot,” said Gray, referring to the fact that Cataline did not have to compete in the Trials Challenge tournament earlier that day while Gray won all three matches; two by pin and one by technical fall before beating Cataline, 10-0 and 7-5. “I sat down with my coaches and believed it was the best thing for me to sit out (the Open).”
And except for getting a scare from Cataline, who put Gray on her back in their second match, the 2012 World champion and two-time World bronze medalist (2011 and ’13) also proved she is ready to become the face of USA Wrestling.
“I definitely hope to become that person,” said the native of Lakewood, Colo., and 23-year-old daughter of George and Donna Gray. “I have so many young girls who look up to me that it brings tears to my eyes.
“I love seeing them have that (Olympic) dream. There are a lot of young boys who look up to football and baseball players who make a lot of money. Women really don’t have those people. I really want this sport to give girls something to believe in and something to dream for … and that it’s a much bigger world than just going to school or just getting a job.
“There are other dreams and something that could never be accomplished without wrestling. I’ve travelled the world and have met amazing people. It’s amazing where my life has moved in this great sport and how much I’ve learned.”
Finding her right place on any future Olympic Team was the only question Gray faced this year, especially after FILA changed the weight classes and added two more Olympic weights for women.
While Gray won her 2012 World championship and 2011 bronze at the old FILA weight at 147.5 pounds, she was forced to drop down to 138.75 pounds in 2012 when she finished second at the Olympic Trials. (FILA offered World Championships for women in Olympic years since only four of seven weight classes were offered in Olympic competition.)
Gray bounced back up to 158 pounds for last year’s World Championships, where her only loss came to eventual gold medalist Fengliu Zhang of China in the quarterfinals. This year, Gray is ranked No. 1 in the world at 165 pounds … even though she still feels like the new Olympic weight of 152 pounds may be her more natural weight.
“I absolutely considered 69 kilos,” said Gray. “That’s closer to where I had my most (international) success. I’m still getting used to not cutting weight. That used to be part of my preparation for getting into the (competitive) zone. It feels weird I’ve been able to eat what I want. My body feels better and healthier.
“I know I’m currently ranked No. 1 here, but I think everyone is trying to shift and adjust to the new weight class. It’s going to take a while before we gain girls who are more athletic. We have not been able to reach those girls because the weight class has been so restrictive.”