Sarah Hildebrandt celebrates a win at the 2023 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Sarah Hildebrandt celebrates a win at the 2023 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

USAWInternationalWomen2024 U.S. Olympic Team TrialsOlympic Trials Preview

Olympic Trials Preview: Hildebrandt holds strong position for repeat Olympic bid at 50 kg

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Granger, Indiana, product Sarah Hildebrandt has been a runaway train since making the decision to drop to 50 kg for the 2020 Olympic Games. She became an Olympic bronze medalist in Tokyo, and has earned a medal at each World Championships since. Her five combined World and Olympic medals make Hildebrandt a clear favorite to repeat in State College.


Hildebrandt’s bronze medal effort at the 2023 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, gave her an automatic berth to the championship series of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Wrestling and earned the U.S. a weight class quota for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France. Team USA has qualified all six women’s freestyle weight classes for the Olympics.


Hildebrandt, who scores points in bunches and is savvy with her leg lace, seeks a return trip to the Olympics and a shot at her first Senior-level gold. Since the Tokyo Games, Hildebrandt has posted a 30-4 record with her only losses coming to international opponents from women’s wrestling powerhouses Mongolia and Japan. She has not lost to an American opponent since 2017 when she was competing at 55 kg.


High school star Audrey Jimenez reached 2023 Final X against Hildebrandt to become No. 2 on the U.S. National Team and cement herself as the top contender to topple Hildebrandt. It was Hildebrandt winning by scores of 8-0 and 11-0 over Jimenez in last year’s Final X series.  Jimenez has already won four age-group World medals for the U.S. and is the nation’s No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound high school wrestler.


The most experienced challenger in the field is multiple-time U.S. National Team member Erin Golston, who is making another run for her first Senior team. Golston has multiple age-group medals and has won U.S. Open titles along the way.


The rest of the field features talented All-American college wrestlers who also have extensive age-group success. Winning the December 2023 Senior Nationals was Sage Mortimer, who transferred to Grand Valley State after success at King. Mortimer beat previous King teammate Samara Chavez 12-10 in an exciting Senior Nationals final.


Other college stars who reached the Olympic Trials field through the Senior Nationals were North Central’s Kendra Ryan, Lock Haven’s Kaelani Shufeldt and William Penn’s Mia Palumbo, the 2024 NAIA champion at 109 pounds. On the NCAA program front, Shufeldt was an NCWWC runner-up this year at 109 pounds, with Ryan placing fourth in the weight. Chavez finished in third place at 116 pounds.


Qualifying for the Olympic Trials by winning the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships were Iowa teammates Emilie Gonzalez, the 101-pound champion, and Ava Bayless, the 109-pound champion, with both who will now compete at 50 kg. These two Hawkeyes were freestyle stars in high school before going to college. A third Iowa Hawkeye made the field, Last Chance Qualifier champion Nyla Valencia, who competed on the 2023 U23 World Team.


While weight classes and final athlete registrations are not finalized until the completion of weigh-ins, this cast of 11 wrestlers is the expected 50 kg field for the Olympic Trials.


Fans looking to attend the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in person can still purchase all session tickets and single session tickets through Ticketmaster.


For those unable to grab a ticket, fear not—all the action from Bryce Jordan Center will be broadcast by NBC properties, April 19-20. The Friday and Saturday evening sessions will be televised on USA Network. NBC’s streaming platform Peacock will host live streams of each mat throughout the competition.


Complete brackets and live results for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be hosted on Trackwrestling.com. Fans can also follow @usawrestling on the various social media platforms for regular updates throughout the event.


For more information about the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, please visit usawrestlingevents.com.

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