Freestyle World Cup preview: Women’s Group B matches between the USA, China and the All-World Team
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
Portraits of Amit Elor (USA), Feng Zhou (China), Yasemin Adar (Turkey) by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling
Men’s and Women’s Freestyle World Cup tickets
TheMat.com will preview each of the Group match-ups for the Men’s and Women’s World Cup in Coralville, Iowa, Dec. 10-11. Group pairings are based upon team placements at the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in September.
We start with Women’s Freestyle Group B, which features No. 2 USA, No. 3 China and the All-World Team. On paper, the All World Team could be the favorite, with eight World medalists on the team and four past World champions. The United States has a mixed team of veterans and young stars, with six World medalists and two World champions. China is also deep, with five past World medalists. All of the teams in this pool also feature some age-group World medalists who are looking for a breakthrough.
Saturday, December 10, 11:30 a.m. CT – USA vs. China
The United States, second in the 2022 World Championships, opens with a tough China team, which was fourth at the 2022 Worlds. Almost all of the matches in this dual meet are hard to handicap, meaning the meet could go either way based upon which team has the most momentum. China always competes well at the World Cup, so Team USA will have to be sharp right off the bat.
In the lighter weights, two-time World bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe of the USA will be favored against either Meng Fan or Jiang Zhu, neither who have any Senior-level World medals. The 53 kg match is difficult to predict, as U23 World team member Felicity Taylor of the USA faces Li Deng, who has no known achievements. Fans will really want to watch the 55 kg battle, where 2019 World champion and Olympian Jacarra Winchester of the USA will go against 2020 Olympic silver medalist and two-time World bronze medalist Qianya Pang. It is possible that the USA could win all three of these bouts, but any of these pairings could go China’s way.
U23 World bronze medalist Alex Hedrick and 2022 Senior World Team member Yongxin Feng of China could have a competitive battle at 57 kg. U23 World team member Lexie Basham could have a hard time at 59 kg with two-time age-group World medalist Zhang Qi. The USA should be favored at 62 kg, with two-time World finalist Kayla Miracle facing 2020 World bronze medalist Xiaojuan Luo. Miracle beat Luo by technical fall at the 2022 Worlds in Serbia. Another toss-up comes at 65 kg, with two-time World bronze medalist Mallory Velte of the USA squaring off with 2022 World silver medalist Jia Long of China. Velte and Long were on opposite sides of the bracket at the 2022 Worlds.
This meet could come down to the upper weights. China has an experience edge at 68 kg, with two-time World medalist Feng Zhou battling U23 World Team member Sienna Ramirez. Likewise, the USA will be heavily favored at 72 kg, with 2022 World champion Amit Elor facing China’s 2022 World Team member Qiandegenchagan. If the 76 kg match decides the meet, expect it to be exciting. 2022 U23 World silver medalist Dymond Guilford of the USA goes against 2018 World Military champion Juan Wang. While Wang has more Senior-level experience, Guilford has shown she can beat top international opponents. Both of these teams brought backups, so any lineup changes could alter the team result here.
United States vs. China
50 kg – Alyssa Lampe or Erin Golston (USA) vs. Meng Fan or Jiang Zhu (China)
53 kg – Felicity Taylor (USA) vs. Li Deng (China)
55 kg – Jacarra Winchester or Jenna Burkert (USA) vs. Qianyu Pang (China)
57 kg – Alexandra Hedrick or Amanda Martinez (USA) vs. Yongxin Feng (China)
59 kg – Lexie Basham or Michaela Beck (USA) vs. Zhang Qi (China)
62 kg – Kayla Miracle or Jennifer Rogers (USA) vs. Xinyuan Sun or Xiaojuan Luo (China)
65 kg – Mallory Velte (USA) vs. Jia Long (China)
68 kg – Sienna Ramirez or Solin Piearcy (USA) vs. Feng Zhou or Yue Han (China)
72 kg – Amit Elor or Skylar Grote (USA) vs. Qiandegenchagan (China)
76 kg – Dymond Guilford or Yelena Makoyed (USA) vs. Juan Wang (China)
Saturday, December 10, 4:30 p.m. CT - All-World Team vs. China
The All World Team has a star-studded lineup, but China’s depth and talent could make this match closer than it seems. While the All-Star team will be favored in more of the match-ups, the China team has enough firepower and talent to make it a very competitive dual meet. With eight past World medalists, almost every All-Star athlete has competed at the highest level. China has five past World medalists, and will need to have those wrestlers step up, while seeking a few upsets from its younger athletes.
China could be outmatched in the first two weight classes. At 50 kg, 2022 World bronze medalist Anna Lukasiak of Poland will battle either U23 World medalist Jiang Zhu or Meng Fan, who has no World medals. Maria Prevolaraki of Greece, a three-time World medalist, will be favored at 53 kg over unheralded Li Deng. China has a good matchup at 55 kg, with 2020 Olympic silver medalist and two-time World bronze medalist Qianyu Pang going up against 2022 World bronze medalist Karla Godinez of Canada. China will need to get an early win or two to keep itself in the match.
On paper, the 57 kg match favors All World’s Zhala Aliyeva of Azerbaijan, who was fifth in the 2022 Worlds, against Yongxiu Feng, who was ninth in the 2022 Worlds. If China can win this match, it could make a difference in the final outcome. At 59 kg, 2022 World champion Anastasia Nichita of Moldova will be expected to beat two-time age-group World medalist Qi Zhang. The All World team boasts two-time World champion Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan at 62 kg, who is much more experienced than China’s 2022 World bronze medalist Xiaojuan Luo. At the 2022 Worlds, Luo placed higher than Tynybekova (who was fifth), but they did not wrestle each other.
The All World Team is loaded in the upper weights, but China matches up pretty well in some of the battles. At 65 kg, 2022 World silver medalist Jia Long of China could have an edge on Mimi Hristova of Bulgaria, who was fifth in the 2022 Worlds. While 2021 World champion Irina Ringaci of Moldova is favored at 68 kg over two-time World medalist Feng Zhou of China, this match could go either way if Zhou is wrestling well. The All-World Team will be favored in the last two bouts. Two-time World silver medalist Zhamila Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan competes against World Team member Qiandegenchagan at 72 kg. Two-time World champion Yasemin Adar of Turkey, who was also a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, takes on World Team member Juan Wang of China at 76 kg. For China to have a shot, it must win the toss-up bouts and get some bonus points when possible.
All-World vs. China
50 kg - Anna Lukasiak (All World/Poland) vs. Meng Fan or Jiang Zhu (China)
53 kg - Maria Prevolaraki (All World/Greece) vs. Li Deng (China)
55 kg - Karla Godinez (All World/Canada) vs. Qianyu Pang (China)
57 kg - Zhala Aliyeva (All World/Azerbaijan) vs. Yongxin Feng (China)
59 kg - Anastasia Nichita (All World/Moldova) vs. Zhang Qi (China)
62 kg - Aisuluu Tynybekova (All World/Kyrgyzstan) vs. Xinyuan Sun or Xiaojuan Luo (China)
65 kg - Mimi Hristova (All World/Bulgaria) vs. Jia Long (China)
68 kg - Irina Ringaci (All World/Moldova) vs. Feng Zhou or Yue Han (China)
72 kg - Zhamila Bakbergenova (All World/Kazakhstan) vs. Qiandegenchagan (China)
76 kg - Yasemin Adar (All World/Turkey) vs. Juan Wang (China)
Saturday, December 10, 6:30 p.m. CT session – USA vs. All World
On paper, the All World Team has the strongest lineup in women’s freestyle Group B, but they don’t wrestle the World Cup on paper. Team USA will be competing on its home mats, and has enough firepower that it has every right to believe it will win this match. Things need to go right for the host USA, however, and it must get off to a good start in the dual meet, as the All World Team is strong in the upper weights.
Two-time World medalist Alyssa Lampe battles 2022 World bronze medalist Anna Lukasiak of Poland at 50 kg. Lampe has the edge on experience and resume, but has not been on the U.S. Senior World Team since 2015. Three-time World medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece will be favored over 2022 U23 World Team member Felicity Taylor at 53 kg, but the Iowa native and Univ. of Iowa student-athlete should get a big lift from the crowd. The 55 kg match will be crucial for both teams. 2019 World champion and 2020 Olympian Jacarra Winchester squares off with 2022 World bronze medalist Karla Godinez of Canada. Godinez beat Winchester 8-5 at the 2022 Pan American Championships. Another option for the USA is 2021 World bronze medalist Jenna Burkert. No matter who wrestles for the USA, this will be a great battle.
The middle weights will be an important stretch for Team USA, which must keep up the pressure. 2022 U23 World bronze medalist Alex Hedrick faces Zhala Aliyeva of Azerbaijan, a 57 kg match that could help the USA big-time with a victory. At 59 kg, 2022 World champion Anastasia Nichita of Moldova will be favored over 2022 U23 World Team member Lexie Basham, one of the rising stars on the U.S. team. The 62 kg match could be the best of the tournament, with two-time World champion and 2022 Olympic silver medalist Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan taking on two-time World silver medalist Kayla Miracle. Tynybekova beat Miracle 7-0 in the 2021 World finals, but Miracle placed higher than Tynybekova in the 2022 Worlds.
Two-time World bronze medalist Mallory Velte of the USA will have a good test against Mimi Hristova of Bulgaria at 65 kg. Velte beat Hristova 11-2 in the 2022 World bronze medal match in Belgrade, Serbia. 2021 World champion and two-time World medalist Irina Ringaci of Moldova battles 2022 U23 World Team member Sienna Ramirez at 68 kg. The 72 kg match is a rematch of the 2022 World Championships finals, where World champion Amit Elor of the USA beat World silver medalist Zhamila Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan by a 10-0 technical fall. Two-time World champion and Olympic medalist Yasemin Adar of Turkey will draw a young star in the final bout at 72 kg, either U23 World silver medalist Dymond Guilford or Yelena Makoyed. This dual meet should be exciting and close, and could determine which team wins Group B.
United States vs. All World
50 kg – Alyssa Lampe or Erin Golston (USA) vs. Anna Lukasiak (All World/Poland)
53 kg – Felicity Taylor (USA) vs. Maria Prevolaraki (All World/Greece)
55 kg – Jacarra Winchester or Jenna Burkert (USA) vs. Karla Godinez (All World/Canada)
57 kg – Alexandra Hedrick or Amanda Martinez (USA) vs. Zhala Aliyeva (All World/Azerbaijan),
59 kg – Lexie Basham or Michaela Beck (USA) vs. Anastasia Nichita (All World/Moldova)
62 kg – Kayla Miracle or Jennifer Rogers (USA) vs. Aisuluu Tynybekova (All WorldKyrgyzstan)
65 kg – Mallory Velte (USA) vs. Mimi Hristova (All World/Bulgaria)
68 kg – Sienna Ramirez or Solin Piearcy (USA) vs. Irina Ringaci (All World/Moldova)
72 kg – Amit Elor or Skylar Grote (USA) vs. Zhamila Bakbergenova (All World/Kazakhstan)
76 kg – Dymond Guilford or Yelena Makoyed (USA) vs. Yasemin Adar (All World/Turkey)