Let the Games Begin

The Women’s wrestling Olympic team has been confirmed following the 2021 Olympic Trials.

By Savannah Moore

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The Olympic team wrestling trials were held April 2 and 3 to determine the women who would represent Team USA in Tokyo this Summer. In a group of fierce competitors these are the six women who were able to rise to the top.

50 kg – Sarah Hildebrandt

Hildebrandt is a four-time gold medalist at the Pan-American Wrestling Championships, and a gold medalist at the 2019 Pan-American Games. Hildebrandt dominated in the finals at the Trials, to little surprise. Only time will tell if she can do the same in Tokyo.

Sarah Hildebrandt after her victory at the Olympic Trials
(SOURCE: Iowa City Press-Citizen/JOSEPH CRESS)

53 kg – Jacarra Winchester

In August of 2015, Winchester tore her ACL while playing soccer, and despite her rehabilitation efforts the knee injury prevented her from competing in the 2016 Olympic Trials. Winchester returned to the mat in 2017 and has been on a roll ever since, culminating in a gold medal at the 2019 World Championship. 

Jacarra Winchester at the Olympic Trials
(SOURCE: Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors)

57 kg – Helen Maroulis

Maroulis is one of the most decorated wrestlers in recent memory. Maroulis won gold at the 2015 World Championship, then went on to become the first American to win a gold medal in women’s freestyle wrestling at the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2017 World Championships Maroulis was dominant once again, winning another gold medal. Maroluis looked to add yet another gold to her resume in 2018, but she suffered a head injury in the first round of the 2018 World Championships.

Throughout 2018 and 2019 Maroulis suffered from concussions, a shoulder injury, and PTSD. The mental and physical turmoil caused Maroulis to briefly retire, but she still believed in her physical abilities and decided to go back to the mat. Her performance in the Olympic Trials reminded everyone why she is still one of the best in the world.

Helen Maroulis at the 2016 Rio Olympics
(SOURCE: Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors)

62 kg – Kayla Miracle

Miracle is the youngest wrestler in the qualifiers this year—she turned 25 just a day before the finals of the Olympic trials. Despite her young age, Miracle is one of America’s most decorated freestyle wrestlers. Miracle is a four-time champion at the collegiate level, a three-time U.S Open champion, and most recently won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Kayla Miracle
(SOURCE: THOMAS HAWTHORNE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC)

68 kg – Tamyra Mensah-Stock

Mensah-Stock was named United World Wrestling Women’s Wrestler of the Year in 2019, so it is no surprise that she stifled her competition during the Olympic trials. Mensah-Stock will be under the most pressure in Tokyo as most still believe she is currently one of the best female wrestlers in the world.

Tamyra Mensah of the United States celebrates as she won the gold match of the women’s 68kg category against Anna Jenny Fransson of Sweden during the Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Anvar Ilyasov)

76 kg – Adeline Gray

At 30 years old, Gray is the oldest woman on the team, but she is also the most decorated. Her seven World medals is second all-time for U.S women’s wrestling. In 2019, Gray became the first American wrestler to win five world titles, and she may have had a sixth if she did not miss the 2017 championships due to injury. Gray was a part of the 2016 Rio Olympic team, but she lost in the quarterfinals and left Rio without a medal. A medal at the 2021 Olympics could cement Gray as one of the best wrestlers the U.S has ever produced.

Adeline Gray
(SOURCE: Tony Rotundo/ United World Wrestling)

The biggest surprise of the trials was the rise of young wrestlers. Kayla Miracle’s final opponent was Macey Kilty, who was born in 2001. Mensah-Stock faced off against 17-year-old Kennedy Blades in the finals. Adeline Gray’s final matchup was also against a teenager—17-year-old Kylie Welker. None of the young wrestlers were able to prevail in the trials, but their success shows that the future of women’s wrestling is in good hands. The present is in good hands as well, as six of the world’s strongest wrestlers are on their way to Tokyo representing Team USA.

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