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WORLD TEAM TRIALS PREVIEW: Women’s freestyle at 55 kg/121 lbs.

This weight class has considerable depth, as recent success on the international level. Claiming the U.S. World Team spot the last two years has been Tatiana Padilla of the Sunkist Kids, one of the top young women wrestlers in the world. Padilla was a World bronze medalist in 2008 and placed fifth in the world in 2009. She also boasts a pair of Junior World medals, and qualified again for the 2010 Junior World Team. Padilla won the U.S. Open title in Cleveland, which lets her sit out until the final series at the World Team Trials.

Placing second at the U.S. Open is another young international star, Helen Maroulis of the New York AC. Maroulis was also on the 2008 U.S. World Team, but was competing at 51 kg at that time. She was also the 2009 U.S. Open champion at 55 kg, but did not make weight at last year’s World Team Trials. Maroulis competed at 59 kg at the WCWA college nationals, where she won the national title for Missouri Baptist. She also won a pair of medals in international events this winter. She made another Junior World Team this year at 55 kg, while Padilla will be up at 59 kg for the Junior Worlds.

Whitney Conder of the Gator WC, a 2007 Junior World champion,, placed a strong third at the U.S. Open. Conder has been competing in numerous international competition, and has shown progress against top foreign opponents. Placing fourth at the U.S. Open was Sharon Jacobson of the U.S. Army, who was a 2006 U.S. Nationals champion but was plagued with injuries in recent seasons.

Natasha Umemoto of the Sunkist Kids, a 2004 U.S. Open champion, and was the University Nationals runner-up this year. She was fifth at the U.S. Open, beating another top talent from the Oklahoma City Univ. team, Michaela Hutchison, who placed sixth. Hutchison has won the WCWA college nationals the last two years and has an impressive record on the age-group levels.

The final qualifier from the U.S. Open was seventh-place Trinity Plessinger of the Sunkist Kids, who was a 2009 Junior World Team member. Plessinger won the University Nationals this year, and also won a medal overseas. Qualifying as the WCWA runner-up at this division was Shawna Isbell from Lindenwood Univ. The final qualifier was Emily Martin, from the Northern Plains Regionals.

Past World Team member Leigh Jaynes started the year at 55 kg but has moved up to 59 kg for the second half of the season and is not expected at this weight at the World Team Trials this year.

With so many talented wrestlers at this division, the U.S. World Team member will be expected to do very well at the World Championships. Tatiana Padilla has the edge based upon past performance, but will have to beat a proven talent in order to return to the World meet once again.

2010 U.S. Open results at 55 kg/121 lbs. in women’s freestyle
1st - Tatiana Padilla, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Helen Maroulis, Rockville, Md. (New York AC), 5-1, 2-0
3rd - Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) pin Sharon Jacobson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), 8-0,0-3,1:13
5th - Natasha Umemoto, Portland, Ore. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Michaela Hutchison, Soldotna, Alaska (Gator WC/OCU), 5-1, 5-1
7th - Trinity Plessinger, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Sandy Do, San Diego, Calif. (unattached), 3-0, 3-0

World Team Trials qualifiers at 55 kg/121 pounds in women’s freestyle
U.S. Open Champion - Tatiana Padilla, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
U.S. Open, second place – Helen Maroulis, Rockville, Md. (New York AC)
U.S. Open, third place - Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
U.S. Open, fourth place – Sharon Jacobson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army),
U.S. Open, fifth place – Natasha Umemoto, Portland, Ore. (Sunkist Kids)
U.S. Open, sixth place - Michaela Hutchison, Soldotna, Alaska (Gator WC/OCU),
U.S. Open, seventh place – Trinity Plessinger, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
Northern Plains Trials Champion – Emily Martin, Frisco, Texas
WCWA Nationals runner-up - Shauna Isbell, Flagstaff, Ariz. (Lindenwood Univ.)
New York AC International champion – Leigh Jaynes, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
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