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Kennedy Blades cruises to Junior World finals at 72 kg

by Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling

Photo of Kennedy Blades by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling.

UFA, Russia – Team USA secured another women’s freestyle finalist at the 2021 Junior World Championships as Olympic Trials runner-up Kennedy Blades went 3-0 on Thursday in Ufa, Russia. She will wrestle for the 72 kg title on Friday. Two other Americans are guaranteed bronze-medal matches tomorrow.


Kennedy Blades, a student at Wyoming Seminary, guaranteed herself her first age-group World medal, advancing to the finals at 72 kg. She got her offense going quick in the morning session, ending both of her matches in the first period with 10-0 tech falls against Mariam Guseinova from Russia and 2019 Cadet Asian bronze medalist Nurzat Nurtaeva of Kyrgystan, respectively. In the semifinals, Kennedy faced Saneh Saneh from India, who was making her international debut. In the opening seconds, Kennedy got behind for a huge five-point throw, which she followed up with a takedown for a 7-0 lead at the break. In the second period, Kennedy chased down a single and went right into a gut wrench for an 11-0 win to secure her spot in the finals.

For gold, Kennedy, who outscored her opponents 31-0 today, will battle Lilly Schneider of Germany, who was 12th at the 2019 Junior World Championships.

The other Blades sister representing the United States was Cadet-eligible Korina Blades, who impressed in the first session at 62 kg, advancing to the semifinals with two big wins. To open her tournament, Korina downed 2018 Cadet European bronze winner Nadzeya Bulanaya from Belarus with a 6-0 lead at the break and tacked on a pair of step outs in the second period for an eventual 8-2 win. In the quarterfinals, she faced Yagmar Cakmak of Turkey, who competed at the 2019 U23 World Championships. Korina trailed 10-1 with 90 seconds left before the American used a knee pick to whip the Turk to her back for a pin at the 5:08 mark. Taking on 2019 Cadet World bronze medalist Alina Kasabieva of Russia in the semifinals, Korina was unable to convert on her shots. Kasabieva had better luck, wrangling five takedowns en route to a 10-0 win. Korina will wrestle for bronze tomorrow. She will face either 2021 Junior European bronze medalist Viktoria Oeverby of Norway or 2019 Junior Pan Am bronze medalist Meiriele Charamba Santos Hora of Brazil.

At 53 kg, Jaslynn Gallegos needed one win to advance to the semifinals, which she earned over Chamodya Maduravalage Don from Sri Lanka. Using her upper body skills, Gallegos recorded three four-point throws for an eventual 13-3 technical fall. In the semifinals, she took on 2018 Youth Olympic Games champion and 2019 Junior European bronze medalist Emma Malmgren of Sweden, who quickly took control of the match, despite a lot of fight from the American. Malmgren recorded an eventual 12-1 win, propelled by an early four-point move. Gallegos moves into tomorrow’s bronze-medal match, where she will face either Choigan Tumat from Russia or 2019 Cadet Asian bronze medalist Zeinep Bayanova of Kazakhstan, which will be decided in the repechage round on Friday morning.

One American was pulled into repechage for tomorrow.

Two-time Cadet World medalist Alara Boyd dropped her first bout at 65 kg to 2021 Senior European champion, Irina Ringaci of Moldova, who also won 2021 U23 European title. Ringaci raced out to an 8-0 lead at the break and held Boyd at bay in the second period for a 9-2 win. The Moldovan eventually advanced to the finals, bulldozing through Viktoria Vesso of Estonia in the semis with a tech fall to pull Boyd back into repechage. Tomorrow, Boyd will face 2019 Youth European Olympic Festival champion Yana Tretsiak of Belarus. Should she win, she will advance to the bronze match.

Competing overseas for the first time, Claire DiCugno was eliminated from the competition at 57 kg. She suffered a first-round loss to 2018 Junior World bronze medalist Mansi Mansi of India, 16-4. Unfortunately, Mansi lost her next bout to Elvira Kamaloglu from Turkey by pin. Because Mansi failed to make it to the finals, DiCugno’s Junior World Championships ended.

Medal matches will take place Friday at 6 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). Fans can watch live on FloWrestling or follow along on USA Wrestling’s twitter @USAWrestling.


Aug. 16-22 | Ufa, Russia

U.S. women’s freestyle results
53 kg: Jaslynn Gallegos (Brighton, Colo./Blue Chip WC) – bronze match
WIN Chamodya MADURAVALAGE DON (Sri Lanka), 13-3
LOSS Emma MALMGREN (Sweden), 12-1

57 kg: Claire DiCugno (Lake Taps, Wash./Takedown Express WC) – eliminated
LOSS Mansi MANSI (India), 16-4

62 kg: Korina Blades (Broadview, Ill./Izzy Style WC) – bronze match
WIN Nadzeya BULANAYA (Belarus), 8-2
WIN Yagmur CAKMAK (Turkey), fall 5:08
LOSS Alina KASABIEVA (Russia), 10-0

65 kg: Alara Boyd (Muncie, Ind./McKendree Bearcat WC) – repechage
LOSS Irina RINGACI (Moldova), 9-2

72 kg: Kennedy Blades (Broadview, Ill./Izzy Style WC) – FINALS
WIN Mariam GUSEINOVA (Russia), 10-0
WIN Nurzat NURTAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), 10-0
WIN Saneh Saneh (India), 11-0
vs. Lilly Schneider (Germany)