Cox, Augello & Maroulis earn Olympic spots; six Americans have one last chance for Rio

Updated: April 27, 2016

J’den Cox, Haley Augello and Helen Maroulis added their names to the group of American wrestlers who will be competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio in August by finishing high in the first of two final Qualifying tournaments, held April 21-23 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Unfortunately six other USA wrestlers, competing in Mongolia, failed in their bids to qualify their weight class for the Rio Games … and now will have one final chance to qualify at the second Qualifying tournament, May 6-8, in Istanbul, Turkey.

To qualify their weight class for the Olympics in Mongolia, two men’s freestylers and three Greco-Roman wrestlers had to finish in the top three in their weight classes, while three U.S. women freestylers had to finish in the top two.

The six remaining wrestlers looking for a spot in the Rio Games — Frank Molinaro in men’s freestyle, Kelsey Campbell and Tamyrah Mensah in women’s freestyle and Jesse Thielke, RaVaughan Perkins and Joe Rau in Greco-Roman — must reach the finals at the final qualifying tournament in Turkey.

Nine other Americans qualified for the 2016 Olympics by winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, held April 9-10 in Iowa City, at weight classes that were already qualified by the United States.

They include Daniel Dennis (57K/125.5), Jordan Burroughs (74K/163), Kyle Snyder (97K/213) and Tervel Dlagnev (125K/275) in men’s freestyle; Elena Pirozhkova (63K/138) and Adeline Gray (75K/165) in women’s freestyle; and Andy Bisek (75K/165), Ben Provisor (85K/187) and Robby Smith (130K/286) in Greco-Roman.

J'den Cox

J’den Cox

Cox, the two-time NCAA champion from Missouri, who won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials as a No. 9 seed, defeated Pedro Ceballos Fuentes of Venezuela, 6-0, in the gold-medal finals at 86 kilos/189 pounds on April 23. In the opening period, Cox scored when Ceballos could not score on the shot clock, then added a pushout for a 2-0 lead. In the second period, Cox scored a pair of takedowns for a dominant win.

“I feel alive right now,” said Cox, who went 5-0 on the day, including a pair of technical falls and a 5-2 semifinal win over Umidjon Ismanov (Uzbekistan). “Words can’t describe how I feel, but I know there is more to do.”

Helen Maroulis

Helen Maroulis

One day earlier Maroulis dominated the 53 kilo/116 pounds weight class, while Augello earned a silver medal at 48 kilos/105.5 pounds.

Maroulis, who won a 2015 World championship at the non-Olympic weight of 121 pounds, opened with an 8-2 win over Alma Jane Valencia Escoto of Mexico, before scoring three straight easy wins, including a 28-second pin against Lilya Horisha of Ukraine in the semis and a 10-0 blanking of Maria Prevolarakia of Greece in the gold-medal bout.

Haley Augello

Haley Augello

Augello, who upset two former World team members to win the Olympic Trials in early April, won three straight matches by technical fall before losing to Hyon-Gyong Kim of North Korea, 9-2, in the gold-medal bout.

Among the six wrestlers, who failed to qualify in Mongolia, Perkins came the closest to earning a trip to Rio when the Greco-Roman wrestler won a bronze medal at 66K/145.5 pounds, but lost a final qualifying bout to Edgaras Venckaitis of Lithuania), who also earned a bronze in the Mongolia tournament.

Meanwhile Mensah appeared to be in a good position to qualify her weight class (69K/152 pounds) after reaching the semifinals but lost 6-5 to Ilana Kratysh of Israel.

Of the four remaining Americans competing in Mongolia:

  • Molinaro won by technical fall over Vietnam’s Xuan Dinh Nguyen, but lost 6-4 to Turkey’s Yakup Gor at 65K/143.5 pounds;
  • Campbell lost on criteria to 2013 World bronze medalist Emese Barka of Hungary, 1-1, at 58K/128 pounds;
  • Theilke was thrown twice late in his first-round match and lost in the closing seconds, 6-5, to India’s Gaurav Sharma at 59K/130 pounds;
  • Rau gave up two points in the second period of his 4-1 loss to Sweden’s Carl Fredrik Schoen at 98K/215 pounds.

“We didn’t get everything taken care of today that we wanted to, but we’re one step closer. The guys competed hard today,” men’s national freestyle coach Bruce Burnett told

“This was an incredibly tough tournament with a lot on the line,” said National Greco-Roman Coach Matt Lindland.The U.S. Greco team wrestled hard but we came up short. We are all disappointed about the results, but we are still optimistic that we will get these weights qualified in Turkey. I am confident the athletes will make the necessary adjustments and fight hard to punch their tickets to Rio.”




At Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 21-23, 2016


U.S. men’s freestyle results


65K/143 pounds – Frank Molinaro, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), dnp

1st round — won by TF over Xuan Dinh Nguyen (Vietnam), 10-0

2nd round — lost to Yakup Gor (Turkey), 6-4


86K/189 pounds – J’Den Cox, Columbia, Mo. (Missouri Wrestling Foundation), gold medalist

1st round — won by TF over Shamir Atyan (Armenia), 11-0

2nd round — won by TF over Timofei Xenidis (Greece), 10-0

Quarters — dec. Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland), 4-1

Semis — dec. Umidjon Ismanov (Uzbekistan), 5-2

Gold Medal — dec. Pedro Ceballos Fuentes (Venezuela), 6-0

U.S. women’s freestyle results


48K/105.5 pounds – Haley Augello, Lockport, Ill. (New York AC/OTC), silver medalist

1st round — won by TF over Viyaleta Chyryk (Belarus), 12-1

Quarters — won by TF over Sarianne Savola (Finland), 10-0

Semis — won by TF over Mariya Livach (Ukraine), 10-0

Gold Medal – lost to Hyon-Gyong Kim (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), 9-2


53K/116.5 pounds – Helen Maroulis, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Sunkist Kids), gold medalist

1st round — dec. Alma Jane Valenica Escoto (Mexico), 8-2

Quarters — won by TF over Kumari Babita (India), 10-0

Semis — pinned Lilya Horishna (Ukraine), Fall 0:28

Gold Medal – won by TF over Maria Prevolaraki (Greece), 10-0


58K/128 pounds – Kelsey Campbell, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids), DNP

1st round — lost to Emese Barka (Hungary), 1-1


69K/152 pounds – Tamyra Mensah, Katy, Texas (Titan Mercury WC/OTC), bronze medalist

1st round — won by TF over Kaur Navjot (India), 10-0

Quarters — dec. Gozal Zutova (Azerbaijan), 10-7

Semis — lost to Ilana Kratysh (Israel), 6-5

Bronze Medal – dec. Diana Paulina Miranda Gonzales (Mexico), 7-0

U.S. Greco-Roman performances


59K/130 pounds – Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (New York AC/OTC), dnp

1st round — lost to Gaurav Sharma (India), 5-6


66K/145.5 pounds – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (New York AC/OTC), bronze medal, lost qualification bout

1st round — won by TF over Benedikt Sebastian Puffer (Austria), 8-0

2nd round — won by TF over Mirabek Ainagulov (Kazakhstan), 8-0

Quarters — lost to Tero Vaelimaeki (Finland), 3-2

Repechage — dec. Hugo da Silva Passos (Portugal), 6-0

Bronze Medal – dec. Pavel Liakh (Belarus), 7-0

Olympic Qualification Bout – lost to Edgaras Venckaitis (Lithuania), 5-0


98K/215 pounds – Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), dnp

1st round — lost to Carl Fredrik Schoen (Sweden), 4-1