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Photo: Adeline Gray celebrates after she used one takedown and one leg-lace to win the 76-kilogram championship in dominating fashion, Oct. 24, in Budapest, Hungary. This was Gray’s fourth World title. (Photo by Justin Hoch)
Adeline Gray finally rediscovered the smile that came with capturing a fourth UWW World Championship when she dominated 2017 World champion Yasemin Adar of Turkey, 13-1, at 76 kilograms Wednesday afternoon in Budapest, Hungary.
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It was the same smile the native of Denver, Colo., once showed in winning World titles in 2012, 14 and ’15, but was missing the past two seasons: in 2016 when she failed to place at the Rio Olympics and last season when she was forced to sit out because of an injury.
Gray’s World championship was the only gold medal and one of four overall medals won by the American women over four days (Oct. 22-25) at the Papp Laszlo Arena. This marked the most total medals won by the USA since the 2012 Worlds, when four women also placed in the top three.
Also earning a Top-3 finish for the United States were Sarah Hildebrandt, a silver medalist at 53 kilograms, while Mallory Velte (62 kilos) and Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kilos) captured bronze medals.
Two other Americans — Jacarra Winchester (55k) and Forrest Molinari (65k) — also reached the bronze medal match, but came up short.
The 2018 Worlds marked the first time since 2013 that Helen Maroulis, the 2015 and ’17 World champ and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, failed to win a medal. Out for much of the season because of a concussion, Maroulis suffered a loss by fall in her first match of the tournament.
Overall, the United States finished third in team competition with 95, trailing only Japan (150) and China (119). The Japanese, team champs of the last five World Championships, produced seven medals (four gold, one silver and two bronze), while five Chinese women placed (one gold and four bronze).
The following are highlights of the ten weight classes that were contested in women’s freestyle.
50 kg/110 pounds
Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo., did not place
1st round — lost to Sonhyang Kim (People’s Republic of Korea), 7-2 — The 2017 World bronze medalist from North Korea scored two of her three takedowns in the final period, including a double with 45 seconds left, after Conder held a 2-2 criteria advantage from a first-period takedown. Conder was eliminated when Kim lost to Azerbaijan’s Maria Stadnik in the semifinals.
WW 53 kg/116 pounds
Sarah Hildebrandt, Colorado Springs, Colo., Silver Medalist
1st round — dec. Zhuldyz Eshimova (Kazakhstan), 5-1 — Leading 1-0 heading into the second period, Hildebrandt countered a shot by Eshimova, a 2011 World bronze medalist, with 1:30 left and turned that into a two-point leglace 22 seconds later.
Quarterfinal — dec. Anzhela Dorogan (Azerbaijan), 15-9 — Trailing 2-0 in the first minute, Hildebrandt scored a reversal and then rolled Dorogan through on four leglaces and took a 9-2 lead with a minute before intermission. Hildebrandt then built up a 13-6 lead with a minute left when she scored on a single and used a bar-arm to add two exposure points. Dorogan, a six-time World qualifier, added two more takedowns in the final 30 seconds before the American clinched the bout by countering an arm spin in the final seconds.
Semifinal — won by TF over Diana Weicker (Canada), 10-0 — Hildebrandt scored three takedowns, including a match-ender on a low single with 2:22 left, but it was her low single that put the Canadian on her back that also immediately led to a leglace and 6-0 lead.
Gold-Medal Match — lost by TF to Haruna Okuno (Japan), 11-0 — Hildebrandt only trailed 4-0 with 40 seconds left in the match when last year’s Senior and U23 World champion scored two takedowns and a leglace for the technical fall.
55 kg/121 pounds
Jacarra Winchester, Colorado Springs, Colo., fifth place
1st round — won by TF over Ramona Galambos (Hungary), 12-1 — Winchester scored 10 of her points in the first period off three takedowns — the second coming with 1:25 left when she took Galambos to her back with a headlock and a trip — and a chest-lock tilt with 30 seconds left. The match ended on cross-over heel pick by Winchester.
Quarterfinal — dec. Tetyana Kit (Ukraine), 4-2 — Winchester scored all her points in the first period off two takedowns before giving up a takedown to Kit, a U23 World bronze medalist in 2017, with 1:10 left, a move that nearly gave the Ukrainian exposure points.
Semifinal — lost to Zalina Sidakova (Belarus), 2-1 — Just when it looked like officials gave Winchester a match-winning single with a second left, a video challenge by Belarus coaches got the call overturned. The only other points came from shot-clock passivity and a stepout against Winchester. Sidakova, a 2012 World silver medalist, could be seen pleading for the video challenge to go her way.
Bronze-Medal Match — lost to Lianna De La Caridad Montero Herrera (Cuba), 5-4 — After the two wrestlers exchanged stepouts in the first period, the 2017 Junior World silver medalist from Cuba scored two takedowns in the second frame to lead 5-1. Winchester fought back with passivity points against the Cuban and tallied a takedown with 17 seconds.
57 kg/125.5 pounds
Helen Maroulis, New York, N.Y., did not place
Prelim – lost by fall to Alyona Kolesnik, Azerbaijan, 3:46 — Leading on 2-2 criteria, Kolesnik countered a Maroulis takedown as the World champ fell to her back as Kolesnik applied overhooks and scored the surprising fall. Maroulis has taken a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on a shot-clock passivity before Kolesnik scored a takedown and led 2-1 at intermission. Maroulis forced a stepout at the start of the second period, but sustained a shoulder injury that kept her on the mat for five seconds. Maroulis was eliminated when Kolesnik lost her next match to Ningning Rong of China.
59 kg/130 pounds
Jenna Burkert, Colorado Springs, Colo., did not place
1st round — lost to Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia), 1-1 criteria — Leading 1-0 after earning a shot-clock passivity call against Baatarjav in the first period, Burkert was put on the shot clock with 1:14 left in the match and nearly scored on a single before time ran out. Burkert, who was a late substitute for injured Alli Ragan, was eliminated when the Mongolian lost a semifinal bout to Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey).
62 kg/136.5 pounds
Mallory Velte, Sacramento, Calif., Bronze Medalist
Prelim — won by TF over Sara Da Col (Italy), 10-0 — Velte ended the bout with 2:18 left when she countered a shot by the Italian for Velte’s third takedown. A second takedown off a single at the start of the second period also turned into a pair of gut-wrench tilts and an 8-0 lead.
1st round — dec. Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia), 14-6 — Velte stormed out to a 6-0 lead with 28 seconds left in the first period as her second takedown also put the World/Olympic medalist on her back. Castillo was able to cut the margin to 8-4 before Velte added two more takedowns, including a four-point move with a minute left.
Quarterfinal —won by TF over Gantuya Enkhbat (Mongolia), 14-4 — Velte trailed 2-0 when she then turned three takedowns into effective two-point leglaces halfway through the first period, and then with two minutes left before adding her final points on a leglace with seven seconds remaining.
Semifinal — lost by fall to Taybe Mustafa Yusein (Bulgaria), 2:17 — Yusein, the four-time World medalist scored the bout’s only takedown with a minute left in the first period, then used the move to put Velte in an inside crade to get the eventual pin.
Bronze Medal Match — dec. Lais Nunes De Oliveira (Brazil), 2-1 — Velte earned her first World medal by earning two passivity points after the Brazilian was put on the shot clock — at 1:08 in the first and 2:02 in the second — but failed to score. De Oliveria scored her point when Velte stepped out with a minute left in the first.
65 kg/143.5 pounds
Forrest Molinari, Colorado Springs, Colo., fifth place
1st round — dec. Leidy Marcela Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia), 4-0 — Molinari used an effective single leg to force a stepout and a takedown in the first period before adding another stepout in the second period.
Quarterfinal – lost to Danielle Suzanne Lappage (Canada), 6-2 — The Canadian scored three takedowns, including a counter to Molinari’s shot with 35 seconds left after Molinari scored her only takedown on a single with one minute left. Despite the loss, Molinari stayed alive as Lappage reached the finals.
Repechage — pinned Mariia Kuznetsova (Russia), 5:26 —Trailing 8-4, Molinari caught the Russian in a headlock with 39 seconds left and quickly scored the fall. Kuznetsova jumped out to a 4-0 with a suplex throw before Molinari scored her first takedown off a scramble with 10 seconds left in the first. The American added another takedown off a single with 1:44 left.
Bronze-Medal Match — lost to Iryna Petrovna Netreba (Azerbaijan), 1-1 criteria — Both points came on shot-clock passivity, with Molinari earning a point with 1:13 left in the first and Netreba gaining the deciding passivity point with 1:14 left in the bout.
68 kg/149.5 pounds
Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Colorado Springs, Colo., Bronze Medalist
1st round — won by TF over Yudari Sanchez Rodriguez (Cuba), 10-0 — Mensah-Stock ended the bout with 1:43 left when she turned a single leg — her third takedown of the match — into an effective leg-lace and exposure points. Mensah-Stock also scored points off a gut with 22 seconds left in first period.
Quarterfinal – won by TF over Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia), 10-0 — A third takedown off a single by Mensah-Stock seven seconds into the second period ended the match. An earlier single helped the American take a 6-0 lead with a leg -ace.
Semifinal — lost to Koumba Selene Fanta Larroque (France), 2-1 — All three points came from separate passivity calls when neither athlete could score with in the 30-second shot clock time. Mensah-Stock benefitted the first time with 1:24 left in the first before Larroque earned two passivity points in the second period, the deciding point coming with 20 seconds left.
Bronze-Medal Match — dec. Olivia Grace Di Bacco (Canada), 7-4 — Leading 1-0 at intermission, Mensah-Stock scored her only takedown off a single with 2:13 left and turned the move into a gutwrench and a 5-0 lead. DiBacco fell behind 6-0 when she lost a video challenge, but came back to score a pair of takedowns in the final minute to pull within 6-4. Mensah-Stock clinched her first World medal on a reversal with five seconds left.
WW 72 kg/158.5 pounds
Erin Clodgo, Richmond, Vt., did not place
Prelim — dec. Anastasiya Zimiankova (Belarus), 5-2 — Clodgo was leading 1-0 after the first period when she cut the corner for her only takedown, then added a turk tilt for a 5-0 lead with 1:32 left. Zimiankova scored a takedown off a headlock with 34 seconds left.
1st round — lost to Tatiana Kolesnikova Morozova (Russia), Dec 6-4 — Clodgo fell behind 6-0 — off two takedowns and a gut — before she countered a Russian shot for a takedown with 2:09 left and added two more points off a chest-lock tilt with 1:50 left. Clodgo was eliminated when Morozova lost to China’s Juan Wang in the quarterfinals.
WW 76 kg/167.5 pounds
Adeline Gray, Kingston, Pa., Gold Medalist
1st round — won by tech fall over Epp Mae (Estonia), 10-0 — Gray only led 2-0 at intermission against the 2014 World champ when she scored on two takedowns and two exposures, the final one coming on a leg-lace with 1:07 left.
Quarterfinal – pinned Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan), 4:50 — Trailing 6-3, Gray scored her second takedown with 1:23 left, then used a bar arm and step over to put Syzdykova on her back and eventually earned the fall. Gray took a 2-0 lead off a takedown one minute into the bout, but gave up two takedowns and two exposure points to Syzdykova, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.
Semifinal — dec. Erica Elizabeth Wiebe (Canada), 3-1 — After giving up a shot-clock passivity point in the first period to the 2016 Olympic champ, Gray used a 2-on-1 to set up a double-leg takedown with 14 seconds left in the first frame, then added a passivity point with 1:30 left in the bout.
Gold-Medal Match — won by TF over Yasemin Adar (Turkey), 13-1 — In this battle of former World champs, Gray trailed 1-0 before exploding with 13 points of a single leg with 20 seconds left in the first and then turned the Turk five straight times with a leg-lace. The final point came when Adar lost a video challenge.