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It was the thrill of victory for Adeline Gray and agony of defeat for Alli Ragan during Day 4 of the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Thursday.
Gray captured her second World championship and fourth all-time World medal when a first-period takedown held up to defeat Aline da Silva of Brazil, 2-1, at 75 kilograms/165 pounds in the Gymnastics Palace.
After the victory, which gave United States its first gold medal of these championships that last through Sunday, Gray and U.S. National Team women’s freestyle coach Terry Steiner, each grabbed one side of a large American flag and displayed it from the raised mat.
This was the second time Gray enjoyed a World Championship moment, joining Tricia Saunders (1992, ’96 and ‘98) and Kristie Marano (2000 and ’03) as the only American women to claim at least two World championships. Gray also grabbed a World gold medal in 2012 (women championships have been held in Olympic years) and a pair of bronze medals in 2011 and ’13, while wrestling at 67 kilograms.
“I don’t know if women get the same credit for winning the 2012 World championship,” Gray told TheMat.com. “It’s the same year as the Olympics and some countries don’t come. In my heart, I consider it a World championship. I definitely earned the World championship this year. I’m the best girl in the world and that’s an amazing feeling.”
Unfortunately for Ragan, a native of Carbondale, Ill., she could not smile at the end of her final match at 58 kilograms/128 pounds.
She thought she won a bronze medal when she scored a takedown in the final 15 seconds and put Anastassia Huchok of Belarus on her back, which she and many thought were the deciding points to earn criteria in a 4-4 deadlock. Unfortunately, the referee raised Huchok’s hand, which left Ragan stunned and eventually in tears. Officials determined that Huchok’s two exposure points off a scramble, which gave her a 4-1 lead 45 seconds into the second period, was worth more in criteria.
Gray and Ragan were two of three Americans who competed on the second day of women’s freestyle and fourth day of the Worlds, sponsored by United World Wrestling (formerly FILA). And many of their matches were also close and decided at the end of bouts.
Except for Gray’s 5-1 semifinal win over Epp Mae of Estonia, the native of Denver, Colo., was forced to rally in her first three bouts.
She trailed Zhou Qian of China, 9-2 with 1:30 left in the first round before winning 11-10 when she scored her final two points on a defensive lift at the buzzer.
“I just had to keep fighting,” Gray told TheMat.com. “I gave everything I had and put it all into that match. My experience paid off. I was behind 9-2, but I was still just a few laces away. I knew I still had time to come back.”
Gray then trailed Yasemin Adar of Turkey, 6-5 at the 4:16 mark in the second round before the American put the Turk on her back with a second takedown and scored a fall with 4:43 on the clock.
Then Gray defeated Japan’s Hiroe Suzuki, 2-1, in the quarterfinals without scoring an offensive point. After trailing 1-0 when she could not score during to a passivity shot clock midway through the first period, Gray first tied the bout 1-1 when the Japanese wrestle could not score with the shot clock, and then earned a second point when Japan’s challenge to a possible takedown was denied with 23 seconds left.
Ragan also showed she could pull out a close bout when she edged Aisylyy Tynbekova of Kyrgyzstan, 7-6, by scoring a takedown and two-point tilt in the second period of their first-round bout. After getting blanked by Japanese legend Kaori Icho, 10-0, in a quarterfinal bout, Ragan entered repechage and dominated Asem Seydametova of Uzbekistan, 10-0, to reach the bronze-medal match.
Whitney Conder, from Puyallup, Wash., also won two matches at 116.5 pounds, including a 4-4 criteria win over 2013 World silver medalist Sumiya Erdenechimeg of Mongolia in the second round. But she ended her second World Championships with two straight losses. After getting pinned by Sweden’s Sofia Mattson in the quarterfinals, Conder got a second chance to compete when Mattson reached the finals. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old member of the U.S. Army WCAP lost her chance to wrestle for a bronze when she lost her repechage bout to Myong-Suk Jong of North Korea, 8-2
“It was definitely a challenging day,” Conder told TheMat.com. “I fought as hard as I could. It’s definitely not what I wanted, but I gave it everything I had.”
2012 World champion Elena Pirozhkova (63k/138.75 pounds) will be the last American woman to compete in the 2014 Worlds on Friday, Sept. 12, the same day that the Greco-Roman tournament begins with two weights. Representing the U.S. Greco team will be Andrew Bisek (75k/165 pounds) and Jordan Holm (85k/187 pounds).
Note: A pair of talented Japanese wrestlers won in the other two gold-medal matches. Saori Yoshida won her 12th World championship with a 6-0 win over Sweden’s Sofia Mattson at 53 kilograms. Meanwhile, Icho claimed her ninth World title with a 10-0 technical fall over Russia’s Valeria Koblova at 58 kilograms. Each has also won three Olympic championships.
Meanwhile, the silver medal by Brazil’s De Silva and bronze medal by Elif Yesilirmak of Turkey were the first World medals in women’s freestyle for their countries.
2014 World Championships
Day 4 • Women’s Freestyle • Sept. 11
Gymnastics Palace, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Medal Results for Day 4 (Sept. 11)
53 kg/116.5 lbs.
Gold Medal — Saori Yoshida (Japan) dec. Sofia Mattsson (Sweden), 6-0
Bronze Medals — Jillian Gallays (Canada) dec. Natalia Malysheva (Russia), 6-2
Myong-Suk Jong (North Korea) vs. Natalia Budu (Moldava), 11-5
58 kg/128 lbs.
Gold Medal — Kaori Icho (Japan) won by TF over Valeria Koblova (Russia), 10-0
Bronze Medals — Anastassia Huchok (Belarus) dec. Alli Ragan (United States), 4-4 criteria
Elif Yesilirmak (Turkey) dec. Lisset Antes (Ecuador), 8-2
75 kg/165 lbs.
Gold Medal — Adeline Gray (USA) vs. Aline da Silva (Brazil), 2-1
Bronze Medals — Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia) dec. Andrea Olaya (Colombia), 3-0
Zhou Qian (China) dec. Epp Mae (Estonia), 7-1
U.S. women’s freestyle results from Day 4 (Sept. 11)
53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
Defeated Tatiana Debien (France), 6-0
Defeated Sumiya Erdenechimeg (Mongolia), 4-4 (criteria)
Lost by fall to Sofia Mattson (Sweden), fall 1:40
Lost to Myong-Suk Jong (North Korea), 8-2
58 kg/128 lbs. – Alli Ragan, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
Defeated Aisylyy Tynbekova (Kyrgyzstan), 7-6
Lost by TF to Kaori Icho (Japan), 10-0
Won by TF over Asem Seydametova (Uzbekistan), 10-0
Lost to Anastassia Huchok (Belarus), 4-4 (criteria) in bronze-medal match
75 kg/165 lbs. – Adeline Gray, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
Defeated Zhou Qian (China), 11-10
Pinned Yasemin Adar (Turkey), fall 4:43
Defeated Hiroe Suzuki (Japan), 2-1
Defeated Epp Mae (Estonia), 5-1
Defeated Aline da Silva (Brazil), 2-1 in gold-medal match