Dominique Parrish running with the American flag.
Tony Rotundo,

Dominique Parrish runs with the American flag after winning the 2022 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

USAWInternationalWomen2023 World Championships Preview

Senior Worlds Preview: Women’s freestyle light weights (50 kg, 53 kg, 55 kg, 57 kg, 59 kg)

by Richard Immel

As the world eagerly awaits the upcoming Senior World Championships, the women's freestyle division promises to be an electrifying spectacle. With a star-studded lineup of wrestlers, a history of fierce rivalries, and a diverse representation of talent from around the globe, this year's competition in Belgrade, Serbia, is poised to deliver breathtaking action and unforgettable moments.

Here is a closer look at the first five women’s freestyle weight classes and how the competitors stack up heading into Belgrade.

Sarah Hildebrandt headshot.
Photo by: Justin Hoch
Sarah Hildebrandt, the U.S. representative at 50 kg, will compete Sept. 19-20 at the 2023 World Championships.

Japan’s Yui Susaki, the reigning World champion and Olympic gold medalist, enters the championship as the top seed. Her impeccable skills and unwavering consistency make her the undisputed favorite to take the division once again. Susaki recently clinched the gold at the Asian Championships, further solidifying her status as a wrestling force to be reckoned with.

Three-time World medalist and Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt, a veteran competitor for the U.S., secured the second seed. Known for her tenacity with an ankle lace, she stands as a formidable challenge to Susaki's reign. Hildebrandt showcased her readiness for the World stage this year by clinching gold at the Pan-American Championships and Budapest Ranking Series event.

Returning World finalist Otgonjargal Dolgorjav of Mongolia holds the three seed while last year’s bronze medalist Anna Lukasiak of Poland maintains the five seed. Continental medalists Ziqi Feng of China, Madison Parks of Canada, Jasmina Immaeva of Uzbekistan and Miesinnei Genesis of Nigeria round out the pool seeded athletes.

While the top seeds grab the spotlight, one name that demands attention is Mariya Stadnik from Azerbaijan. With a remarkable track record of six World medals and three Olympic medals, Stadnik will be a potential disruptor to the top seeds' aspirations. Her fierce rivalry with wrestlers like Susaki promises thrilling matchups that wrestling fans won't want to miss.

No. 1 – Yui Susaki (Japan)
No. 2 – Sarah Hildebrandt (United States)
No. 3 – Otgonjargal Dolgorjav (Mongolia)
No. 4 – Ziqi Feng (China)
No. 5 – Anna Lukasiak (Poland)
No. 6 – Madison Parks (Canada)
No. 7 – Jasmina Immaeva (Uzbekistan)
No. 8 – Miesinnei Genesis (Nigeria)

50 kg/110 lbs. – Gold – Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver – Otgonjargal Dolgorjav (Mongolia); Bronze – Sarah Hildebrandt (United States); Bronze – Anna Lukasiak (Poland); 5th – Emilia Vuc (Romania); 5th – Meisinnei Mercy Genesis (Nigeria); 7th – Patricia Alejandra Bermudez (Argentina); 8th – Jasmina Immaeva (Uzbekistan); 9th – Oksana Livach (Ukraine); 10th – Madison Parks (Canada)

50 kg/110 lbs. – Gold – Remina Yoshimoto (Japan); Silver – Sarah Hildebrandt (United States); Bronze – Nadezhda Sokolova (RWF); Bronze – Otgonjargal Dolgorjav (Mongolia); 5th – Bohdana Kokozei Yashchuk (Ukraine); 5th – Emilia Vuc (Romania); 7th – Madison Parks (Canada); 8th – Natallia Varakina (Belarus); 9th – Miglena Selishka (Bulgaria); 10th – Kumari Hanny (India)

50 kg/110 lbs. – Gold – Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver – Sun Yanan (China); Bronze – Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Sarah Hildebrandt (United States); 5th – Oksana Livach (Ukraine); 5th – Namuunrsetseg Tsogt Ochir (Mongolia); 7th – Miglena Georgieva Selishka (Bulgaria); 8th – Lucia Yamileth Yepez Guzman (Ecuador); 9th – Sarra Hamdi (Tunisia); 10th – Stalvira Orshush (ROC)

Dominique Parrish headshot.
Photo by: Justin Hoch
Dominique Parrish, the U.S. representative at 53 kg, will compete Sept. 20-21 at the 2023 World Championships.

U.S. representative Dominique Parrish is among the top contenders as the reigning World champion and No. 2 seed in the weight class. She has posted an up-and-down season with some solid wins but no international medals to her credit since last year’s win in Belgrade.

Ecuador’s Pan-American champion Lucia Yepez, the top seed, is a formidable force in the division. With her impressive track record and a fifth-place finish at the 2022 World Championships, she's poised to challenge for the gold. No. 3 seed Jonna Malmgren of Sweden was also fifth at last year’s event.

Outside of Parrish, the only returning medalist entered at 53 kg is Greece’s Maria Prevolaraki, who is seeded fourth. Prevolaraki aims to build on her bronze medal success in 2022.

The remaining seeded competitors include 2021 World silver medalist Iulia Leorda of Moldova, European runner-up and Russian transfer Sztalvira Orsus of Hungary, Pan-American bronze medalist Karla Acosta Martinez of Mexico, and 2021 World champion Akari Fujinami of Japan.

Canada’s Samantha Stewart, a World bronze medalist two years ago, and Olympic veteran Roksana Zasina of Poland are competitors to watch outside of the top seeds.

No. 1 – Lucia Yepez (Ecuador)
No. 2 – Dominique Parrish (United States)
No. 3 – Jonna Malmgren (Sweden)
No. 4 – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece)
No. 5 – Iulia Leorda (Moldova)
No. 6 – Sztalvira Orsus (Hungary)
No. 7 – Karla Acosta Martinez (Mexico)
No. 8 – Akari Fujinami (Japan)

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Gold – Dominique Parrish (United States); Silver – Khulan Batkhuyag (Mongolia); Bronze – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece); Bronze – Vinesh Phogat (India); 5th – Lucia Yepez Guzman (Ecuador); 5th – Emma Jonna Malmgren (Sweden); 7th – Laura Herin Avila (Cuba); 8th – Mercedesz Denes (Hungary); 9th – Karla Acosta Martinez (Mexico); 10th – Marina Rueda Flores (Spain)

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Gold – Akari Fujinami (Japan); Silver – Iulia Leorda (Moldova); Bronze – Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland); Bronze – Samantha Stewart (Canada); 5th – Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 5th – Khrystyna Bereza (Ukraine); 7th – Zeynep Yetgil (Turkey); 8th – Emma Malmgren (Sweden); 9th – Annika Wendle (Germany); 10th – Eunyoung Park (Korea)

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Gold – Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver – Pang Qianyu (China); Bronze – Vanesa Kaladzinskya (Belarus); Bronze – Bolortuya Bat Ochir (Mongolia); 5th – Jacarra Winchester (United States); 5th – Joseph Essombe Tiako (Cameroon); 7th – Roksana Marta Zasina (Poland); 8th – Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 9th – Vinesh (India); 10th – Olga Khoroshavtseva (ROC)

Jacarra Winchester headshot.
Photo by: Justin Hoch
Jacarra Winchester, the U.S. representative at 55 kg, will compete Sept. 18-19 at the 2023 World Championships.

The women’s freestyle 55 kg division promises an exhilarating showcase of athleticism and fierce competition led by Japan’s powerhouse entrant Haruna Okuno. With World gold medals at the U17, U20, U23 and Senior levels, Okuno brings a legacy of Japanese wrestling excellence to the mat. Her presence as an unseeded wrestler will undoubtedly add an extra layer of excitement to the competition.

Canada's Karla Godinez leads the pack as the top seed. With a reputation for sheer tenacity and a bronze medal at the 2022 World Championships, she's poised to shine. Godinez is coming off a gold medal win at the Poland Open in her last outing.

Representing the U.S. is 2019 World champion and Olympian Jacarra Winchester, who takes the second seed. Fresh off gold medal performances at two UWW Senior Ranking Series events in 2023, she's on a mission to reclaim the top spot in the World.

Kazakhstan's pride Marina Sedneva is on an upward trajectory from her 10th place finish one year ago. She enters as the No. 3 seed following a four-medal international season this year, including a bronze at the Asian Championships.

Both Winchester and Sedneva own wins over No. 1 seed Godinez from events held this summer, Winchester at the Budapest Ranking Series event and Sedneva at the Kozhomkul-Sanatbaev International.

This weight class appears more open than most in terms of medal contenders with a large pool of athletes holding similar credentials and skill levels, as well as some fresh faces in the mix.

No. 1 – Karla Godinez (Canada)
No. 2 – Jacarra Winchester (United States)
No. 3 – Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan)
No. 4 – Mariana Dragutan (Moldova)
No. 5 – Erika Bognar (Hungary)
No. 6 – Shokhida Akhmedova (Uzbekistan)
No. 7 – Mariia Vynnyk (Ukraine)
No. 8 – Otgontuya Chinbold (Mongolia)

55 kg/ 121 lbs. – Gold – Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver – Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine); Bronze – Mengyu Xie (China); Bronze – Karla Godinez (Canada); 5th – Jacarra Winchester (United States); 5th – Mariana Draguttan (Moldova); 7th – Andreea Beatrice Ana (Romania); 8th – Sushma Shokeen (India); 9th – Roksana Marta Zasina (Poland); 10th – Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan)

55 kg/ 121 lbs. – Gold – Tsugumi Sakurai (Japan); Silver – Nina Hemmer (Germany); Bronze – Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine); Bronze – Jenna Burkert (United States); 5th – Olga Khoroshavtseva (RWF); 5th – Pinki (India); 7th – Andreea Beatrice Ana (Romania); 8th – Esther Kolawole (Nigeria); 9th – Roksana Zasina (Poland); 10th – Mehlika Ozturk (Turkey)

Note: 55 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

Helen Maroulis headshot.
Photo by: Justin Hoch
Helen Maroulis, the U.S. representative at 57 kg, will compete Sept. 19-20 at the 2023 World Championships.

All four of last year’s World medalists are back at 57 kg—champion Tsugumi Sakurai of Japan, runner-up Helen Maroulis of the United States, and bronze medalists Alina Hrushyna Akobiia of Ukraine and Anhelina Lysak of Poland. Each has been allocated a seed for the event.

Japan's wrestling prodigy, Sakurai, is the third seed. With a gold medal in the past two World Championships, one at 55 kg and one at 57 kg, she's no doubt a force to be reckoned with. Sakurai defeated Maroulis 3-0 in last year’s World final.

After a couple uncharacteristic, non-medal winning events in 2023, the Rio Olympic champion and three-time World champion Maroulis appears armed and ready to reclaim her place atop the podium. She is coming off a dominant series win over Pan-American champion Xochitl Mota-Pettis at last month’s Final X Special Wrestle-Off where she qualified for the U.S. team.

Leading the charge as the top seed is Ukraine's powerhouse, Akobiia. With a bronze medal at the 2022 World Championships and a European title this year, she's poised for a nice run in Serbia.

Poland's Lysak is the sixth seed, a talented wrestler with immense potential. Watch out for her as she aims to upgrade her place on the World podium from the bronze medal level.

57 kg is proving to be among the deepest weights in the entire tournament. In addition to the foursome of returning medalists, Tokyo silver medalist Iryna Kurachkina will return under the Individual Neutral Athlete banner. Not to mention, Olympic medalist Evalina Nikolova of Bulgaria, World finalist Anshu of India and three-time World medalist Odunayo Adekuoroye of Nigeria are also entered. All these talented athletes will be unseeded, giving way to the unpredictability of this bracket.

No. 1 – Alina Hrushyna Akobiia (Ukraine)
No. 2 – Helen Maroulis (United States)
No. 3 – Tsugumi Sakurai (Japan)
No. 4 – Giullia Penalber (Brazil)
No. 5 – Laylokhon Sobirova (Uzbekistan)
No. 6 – Anhelina Lysak (Poland)
No. 7 – Zhala Aliyeva (Azerbaijan)
No. 8 – Luisa Valverde (Ecuador)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Tsugumi Sakurai (Japan); Silver – Helen Maroulis (United States); Bronze – Alina Hrushyna Akobiia (Ukraine); Bronze – Anhelina Lysak (Poland); 5th – Zhala Aliyeva (Azerbaijan); 5th – Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 7th – Esther Omolayo Kolawole (Nigeria); 8th – Laylokhon Sobirova (Uzbekistan); 9th – Yongxin Feng (China); 10th – Sarita (India)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Helen Maroulis (United States); Silver – Anshu (India); Bronze – Sae Nanjo (Japan); Bronze – Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 5th – Veronika Chumikova (RWF); 5th – Solomiia Vynnyk (Ukraine); 7th – Giullia Rodrigues Penalber De Oliveira (Brazil); 8th – Eveline Nikolova (Bulgaria); 9th – Nilufar Raimova (Kazakhstan); 10th – Alma Valencia Escoto (Mexico)

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver – Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus); Bronze – Helen Maroulis (USA); Bronze – Evalina Nikolova (Bulgaria); 5th – Khongorzul Boldsaikhan (Mongolia); 5th – Valeria Koblova (ROC); 7th – Anastasia Nichita (Moldova); 8th – Tetyana Kit (Ukraine); 9th – Anshu (India); 10th – Rong Ningning (China)

Jennifer Page headshot.
Photo by: Justin Hoch
Jennifer Page, the U.S. representative at 59 kg, will compete Sept. 18-19 at the 2023 World Championships.

With a diverse field of talented athletes, this weight class promises thrilling action and highly competitive wrestling led by No. 1 seed Jowita Wrzesien of Poland. She carries high expectations into the tournament having won a bronze at last year’s event and being the only returning medalist in the weight class.

The obvious wild card here is Sae Nanjo of Japan. Although she is not seeded among the top contenders, Nanjo's move up from 55 kg and her previous successes make her a wrestler to watch. She won the 2023 Asian Championships at 57 kg and has a history of performing well on the international stage with World medals in every age level.

Four-time World medalist and three-time Olympian Yuliia Tkach of Ukraine is dangerous from the No. 3 seed. In her mid-thirties, Tkach is among the elder competitors we will see in Serbia, giving her the critical edge in experience over her opponents. She has had a bit of a resurgence this season with three international medals to her credit. It’s her first World Championships appearance since 2019.

Talented athletes from the Asian sector round out the top-four seeds—Diana Kayumova of Kazakhstan comes in as the two seed and Qi Zhang of China is the four seed. Kayumova recently earned bronze at the Poland Open. Zhang did the same at the Budapest Ranking Series event. Neither wrestler medaled at the Asian Championships this year.

Longtime U.S. World Team contender Jennifer Page, the eighth seed, is looking to make her mark in her first crack at the Worlds. After dropping down from 62 kg earlier this year, Page won the Budapest Ranking Series event and is in prime shape to make a run at this wide-open weight class.

No. 1 – Jowita Wrzesien (Poland)
No. 2 – Diana Kayumova (Kazakhstan)
No. 3 – Yuliia Tkach (Ukraine)
No. 4 – Qi Zhang (China)
No. 5 – Alyona Kolesnik (Azerbaijan)
No. 6 – Othelie Hoeie (Norway)
No. 7 – Siwar Bouseta (Tunisia)
No. 8 – Jennifer Page (United States)

59 kg/130 lbs. – Gold – Anastasia Nichita (Moldova); Silver – Grace Bullen (Norway); Bronze – Sakura Motoki (Japan); Bronze – Jowita Wrzesien (Poland); 5th – Qi Zhang (China); 5th – Erdenesuvd Bat Erdene (Mongolia); 7th – Mansi (India); 8th – Solomiia Vynnyk (Ukraine); 9th – Diana Kayumova (Kazakhstan); 10th – Abigail Nette (United States)

59 kg/130 lbs. – Gold – Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria); Silver – Akie Hanai (Japan); Bronze – Sarita (India); Bronze – Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 5th – Sara Lindborg (Sweden); 5th – Maya Nelson (United States); 7th – Linda Morais (Canada); 8th – Sandra Paruszewski (Germany); 9th – Krystsina Sazykina (Belarus); 10th – Alyona Kolesnik (Azerbaijan)

Note: 59 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.