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Gray, Hildebrandt to wrestle for gold, Molinari for bronze at Senior Worlds in Norway

by Gary Abbott and Joe Wedra, USA Wrestling

Sarah Hildebrandt (USA) waves to the crowd at the 2021 Senior Worlds. Photo by Tony Rotundo.

OSLO, Norway – Five-time World champion and 2020 Olympic silver medalist Adeline Gray has set herself up to make history again at the Senior World Championships, after a big win in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Gray is seeking to become the first U.S. wrestler of any style or gender to win six Senior World titles in a career. She has qualified for the gold-medal finals at 76 kg finals, after a pin of Samar Hamza of Egypt in the semifinals. Hamza is a two-time Olympian and four-time African champion.

Hamza earned a step out point to begin the match, but Gray cruised to victory in the second period. After leaving the break tied at 1-1, Gray secured a feet-to-back takedown for four points and then multiple gut wrench turns to unofficially end the match. She kept Hamza on her back and locked up the fall.

Gray, who is the No. 1 seed, will face a well-known opponent, Epp Mae of Estonia, in the gold-medal finals.

Maee has won World bronze medals in 2015 and 2019 and is a two-time Olympian.

Last night, men’s freestyle superstar Jordan Burroughs won his fifth career Senior World title, to tie Gray with the most in American history. A victory by Gray over Maee would raise the bar to a new level once again.

Gray pinned all three of her opponents so far this tournament, with only Hamza surviving until the second period.

Gray will be joined in Wednesday’s gold-medal finals by teammate Sarah Hildebrandt, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist and 2018 World silver medalist, who won her semifinals match at 50 kg.

Hildebrandt continued to display an explosive offense, defeating Nadezhda Sokolova of the Russian Wrestling Federation in a 12-1 technical fall. Sokolova is a six-time age-group World medalist, including a 2011 Cadet World title.

Hildebrandt surrendered a shot clock point early in the match, but quickly found a takedown to go into the break with a 2-1 lead. From there, the match was dominated by Hildebrandt. She scored three more takedowns and utilized her powerful leg lace to finish up the win and punch her ticket to tomorrow’s finals.

Three-time World Team member Forrest Molinari will compete for a bronze medal at 65 kg on Sunday, after dropping a 6-2 decision to 2019 Junior World champion Miwa Morikawa of Japan in the semifinals.

Molinari controlled the hand fighting throughout the bout and tired out her opponent, but Morikawa scored in key situations to secure the win. Molinari had the match to within two points late, but Morikawa scored a takedown at the edge with 20 seconds left to post the win. It marked Japan’s third-straight win in the session, giving them finalists at 50kg, 53kg and 65kg.

Molinari’s opponent in her bronze-medal match is yet to be determined. She will wrestle the winner of the Wednesday morning repechage match between Mariya Mamashuk of Belarus and Aina Temirtassova of Kazakhstan.

Molinari has qualified for a bronze medal match in all three of her World Championships appearances, after placing fifth at the 2018 and 2019 Senior Worlds.

The other U.S. athlete in Group Two, Amy Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC), was eliminated at 53 kg. She lost her opening match to Katarzyna Krawczyk of Poland. When Krawczyk was beaten in the semifinals, Fearnside was not eligible for repechage. Only athletes who lose to a finalist get pulled back into repechage.

The final four U.S. women wrestlers will begin their competition on Wednesday. Leading this group of U.S. women are 2016 Olympic champion and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Helen Maroulis at 57 kg and 2020 Olympic champion Tamyra Mensah Stock at 68 kg. Maroulis is also a two-time World champion, while Mensah Stock won a 2019 World title. The other two U.S. women are competing on their first Senior World Team, past Junior World champions Maya Nelson at 59 kg and Kylie Welker at 72 kg.


At Oslo, Norway, October 5

Group Two women’s freestyle finals pairings

50 kg – Sarah Hildebrandt (USA) vs. Remina Yoshimoto (Japan)

53 kg – Akari Fujinami (Japan) vs. Iulia Leorda (Moldova)

65 kg – Irina Ringaci (Moldova) vs. Miwa Morikawa (Japan)

76 kg – Adeline Gray (USA) vs. Epp Maee (Estonia)

Group Two women’s freestyle semifinal results


Remina Yoshimoto (Japan) tech fall Emilia Vuc (Romania), 11-0 3:50

Sarah Hildebrandt (United States) tech fall Nadezhda Sokolova (Russian Wrestling Federation), 12-1 5:44


Akari Fujinami (Japan) tech fall Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland), 10-0 3:05

Iulia Leorda (Moldova) fall Khrystyna Bereza (Ukraine), 5:46


Miwa Morikawa (Japan) dec. Forrest Molinari (United States), 6-2

Irina Ringaci (Moldova) fall Mimi Hristova (Bulgaria), 2:43


Adeline Gray (United States) fall Samar Hamza (Egypt), 4:00

Epp Maee (Estonia) dec. Aiperi Medet Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan), 3-3

U.S. women’s freestyle Group Two results

50 kg – No. 1 seed Sarah Hildebrandt (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/New York AC)

WIN Bohdana Kokozei Yashchuk (Ukraine), tech. fall 10-0, 0:43

WIN Lisa Ersel (Germany), tech. fall 10-0, 1:27

WIN Nadezhda Sokolova (Russian Wrestling Federation), tech. fall 12-1, 5:44

Gold medal finals – Vs. Remina Yoshimoto (Japan)

53 kg – Amy Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC)

LOSS Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland), tech. fall 10-0

65 kg – Forrest Molinari (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids)

WIN Enkhjin Tuvshinjarga (Mongolia), pin 2:50

WIN Dinara Kadaeva Salikhova (Russian Wrestling Federation), tech. fall 10-0

WIN Koumba Larroque (France), 3-3

LOSS Miwa Morikawa (Japan), 6-2

Bronze medal match – Against winner of Mariya Mamashuk (Belarus) vs. Aina Temirtassova (Kazakhstan)

76 kg – No. 1 seed Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/New York AC)

WIN Aysegul Ozbege (Turkey), pin 1:17

WIN Kiran (India), pin 2:33

WIN Samar Hamza (Egypt), pin 4:00

Gold medal finals – vs. Epp Maee (Estonia)

U.S. Women’s Freestyle Group Three pairings

57 kg – No. 4 seed Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./Sunkist Kids)

Vs. Jeannie Kessler (Austria), 5th in 2018 European U23 Championships

59 kg – No. 4 seed Maya Nelson (Denver, Colo., Sunkist Kids)

Vs. Ebru Dagbasi (Turkey), 7th in 2021 Junior Worlds, 5th in 2019 European Youth Festival

68 kg – No. 1 seed Tamyra Mensah-Stock (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC)

Bye, then vs. winner of Ritu (India) and Anastasia Lavenchuk (Ukraine)

Ritu – 5th in 2018 Worlds, 2017 Commonwealth champion

Lavenchuk – 2nd in 2019 European Juniors, 5th in 2019 European U23s

72 kg – Kylie Welker (Waterford, Wis./Titan Mercury WC)

Vs. Buse Cavusoglu Tosun (Turkey), 2018 World bronze medalist, 2018 European bronze medalist, 2016 University World champion