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Maroulis, Gray return to Olympics; U.S. women Mensah-Stock, Hildebrandt, Winchester and Miracle qualify for their first Games in Tokyo

by Andy Elder, Special to

Helen Maroulis celebrates after scoring pin to win the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Fort Worth, Texas2016 Olympic champion Helen Maroulis will get to defend her title, celebrating her Olympic Trials win at 57 kg. Photo by Larry Slater.

FORT WORTH, Texas — In 2019, Tamyra Mensah-Stock won a world championship. Saturday night she earned the right to try to win an Olympic gold medal.

Fittingly for her, it was deep in the heart of Texas.

A native of Katy, Texas, Mensah-Stock (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club) won the 68 kg best-of-three series 2-0 against rising star 17-year-old Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club), 12-4 and 8-1.

Mensah-Stock collapsed to her knees and could be heard shrieking with joy after her second win, which punched her ticket to the Tokyo Games.

“This has been a long time coming. In 2016, I fell short. I wanted to come back and prove to everybody and myself that I could become an Olympian and I did it. I’m so proud of myself. There’s no pressure now. I went out there and qualified the weight class, so I knew I had to represent the U.S. at 68 kg in Tokyo,” said Mensah-Stock.

Adeline Gray (New York Athletic Club) will be on hand to give Mensah-Stock, and the rest of the U.S. women’s freestyle team, any advice she or they might need in Tokyo. Gray, the five-time World Champion and 2016 Olympian, maintained her stranglehold on 76 kg.

Kylie Welker (TMWC), who wrote a Cinderella story with her march from a No. 14 seed to the finals, was no match for Gray, who rolled to 10-0 and 11-0 wins.

Helen Maroulis (SKWC/Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) can offer valuable advice on not only attending an Olympic Games, but also winning a gold. The 2016 gold medal winner, the first in U.S. history, will be trying to duplicate that feat. She had to work hard to represent the U.S. at 57 kg this time around.

Her best-of-three series with Jenna Burkert (Army WCAP) went the distance. Maroulis rallied for a 5-3 win in the first. But Burkert rebounded with a 6-5 win to force a third match. The Rockville, Maryland native made quick work of Burkert, tripping her to her back and pinning her in 23 seconds in the third match.

Each of the women was in tears, Maroulis in joy at her second Olympic berth. Burkert most assuredly from losing both the match and her mother in the past week.

2019 World champion Jacarra Winchester (TMWC) will be along for the trip, as well. The San Lorenzo, California, product won at 53 kg. In her best-of-three against Ronna Heaton (SKWC), Winchester won the first bout, 7-4, and then dominated in the second, 12-2.

Sarah Hildebrandt (NYAC) knows about medaling on the world stage, having won a silver at the 2018 World Championships. Now, as the 50 kg Olympic Trials champion, the Granger, Indiana, native will have a chance to add some gold, Olympic gold, to her collection.

The 27-year-old rattled off two impressive wins over Victoria Anthony (Arizona State Regional Training Center/SKWC) in the best-of-three series. Her 12-2 and 10-0 technical fall wins bought her a trip to Tokyo.

Kayla Miracle (SKWC), a 2019 World Team member, 2019 U23 World silver medalist and three-time U23 World Team member, will round out the U.S. women’s freestyle team. She triumphed over Macey Kilty (SKWC) in the best-of-three series, being extended to three matches. Miracle won 8-4 in the first, but Kilty battled back to pull even with a 4-3 win in bout two. In the deciding third bout, Miracle scored a takedown and Kilty could not continue, giving Miracle an injury default win and a spot on the Olympic Team.

All six of the women who earned the right to sit out until the finals won the Championships Series.

The U.S. women’s team will have the fire-power to challenge powerhouse Japan for supremacy in the Tokyo Games. The group includes an Olympic champion, two Olympians, four World champions, five World medalists and all six with Senior World Championships experience.

Final X Championship Series in women’s freestyle

50 kg - Sarah Hildebrandt (New York AC) vs. Victoria Anthony (ASU RTC/Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club)

Bout One – Hildebrandt tech. fall Anthony, 12-2

Bout Two – Hildebrandt tech. fall Anthony, 10-0

Hildebrandt qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

53 kg - Jacarra Winchester (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Ronna Heaton (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club)

Bout One – Winchester dec. Heaton, 7-4

Bout Two – Winchester tech. fall Heaton, 12-2

Winchester qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

57 kg - Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids) vs. Jenna Burkert (ARMY WCAP)

Bout One – Maroulis dec. Burkert, 5-3

Bout Two – Burkert dec. Maroulis, 6-5

Bout Three – Maroulis pin Burkert, 0:24

Maroulis qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

62 kg - Kayla Miracle (Sunkist Kids) vs. Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club)

Bout One – Miracle dec. Kilty, 8-4

Bout Two – Kilty dec. Miracle, 4-3

Bouth Three – Miracle inj. dft. Kilty, 0:32

Miracle qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

68 kg - Tamyra Mensah-Stock (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club), two matches to none

Bout One – Mensah-Stock dec. Blades, 12-4

Bout Two – Mensah-Stock dec. Blades, 8-1

Mensah-Stock qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

76 kg - Adeline Gray (New York AC) vs. Kylie Welker (Titan Mercury WC)

Bout One – Gray tech. fall Welker, 10-0

Bout Two – Gray tech. fall Welker, 11-0

Gray qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.

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