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#WrestleBelgrade Preview: Women's freestyle light weights

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Helen Maroulis (USA) runs an arm bar at the 2021 World Championships.
Helen Maroulis (USA) runs an arm bar at the 2021 World Championships. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

The 2022 Senior World Championships are just around the corner, set for Sept. 10-18 in Belgrade, Serbia.


USA Wrestling will be posting weight class previews for the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in six segments. There will be two previews in each style, light weights (first five weights) and heavy weights (final five weights). Included will be a story on each weight class, with seeds plus World/Olympic results going back to 2017.

Previous Previews
Men’s freestyle light weights

Today, we feature the first five weight classes in women’s freestyle: 50 kg, 53 kg, 55 kg, 57 kg, 59 kg.

50 kg preview
U.S. representative: Sarah Hildebrandt
Competition dates: September 13-14

Securing the No. 1 seed was U.S. star Sarah Hildebrandt, who comes off a 2020 Olympic bronze medal and a 2021 World silver medal, her second career World runner-up finish. The No. 2 seed is 2020 Olympic champion Yui Susaki of Japan, also a 2018 and 2019 World champion. Susaki has not competed since the Tokyo Games, while Hildebrandt added a 2022 Pan American title, and a Ranking Tournament win in Algeria.

Based upon seeds, if everybody shows up, Susaki could battle No. 7 seed Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan in the semifinals. Stadnik is a two-time World champion (2009, 2019) and a very rare four-time Olympic medalist. Stadnik has only competed once since the Tokyo Olympics.

2022 European runner-up Miglena Selishka of Bulgaria gets the No. 3 seed, with 2019 World silver medalist Emilia Vuc of Romania getting No. 4. Vuc won the Yasar Dogu Ranking Event and was third in the 2022 Europeans. The No. 5 seed, Otgonjargal Dolgorjav of Mongolia, a 2021 World bronze medalist, won medals in two Ranking Events this year. Canada’s Madison Parks, a 2022 Pan American silver medalist and 2022 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event champion, gets No. 6. A possible quarterfinal opponent for Hildebrandt is No. 8 seed Evin Demirhan of Turkey, the 2022 European champion.

Among the unseeded wrestlers who could bust the bracket is 2018 World bronze medalist Oksana Livach of Ukraine, a past Cadet World champion. 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Mercy Genesis of Nigeria, who has won multiple African titles, is a threat, as is 2019 U23 World silver medalist Ziqi Feng of China. Two-time Asian medalist Jasmina Immaeva of Uzbekistan is also a rising talent.

50 kg seeds:
No. 1 Sarah Hildebrandt (USA)
No. 2 Yui Susaki (Japan)
No. 3 Miglena Selishka (Bulgaria)
No. 4 Emilia Vuc (Romania)
No. 5 Otgonjargal Dolgorjav (Mongolia)
No. 6 Madison Parks (Canada)
No. 7 Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan)
No. 8 Evin Demirhan (Turkey)


2021 World Championships
50 kg - Gold – Remina Yoshimoto (Japan); Silver – Sarah Hildebrandt (USA); Bronze – Nadezhda Sokolova (RWF); Bronze – Otgonjargal Dolgorjav (Mongolia); 5th – Bohdana Kokozei Yashchuk (Ukraine); 5th – Emilia Vuc (Romania); 7th – Madison Parks (Canada); 8th – Natallia Varakina (Belarus); 9th – Miglena Selishka (Bulgaria); 10th – Kumari Hanny (India)

2020 Olympic Games
50 kg - Gold - Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver - Sun Yanan (China); Bronze - Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Sarah Hildebrandt (USA); 5th - Oksana Livach (Ukraine); 5th - Namuunrsetseg Tsogt Ochir (Mongolia); 7th - Miglena Georgieva Selishka (Bulgaria) ; 8th - Lucia Yamileth Yepez Guzman (Ecuador); 9th - Sarra Hamdi (Tunisia); 10th - Stalvira Orshush (ROC)

2019 World Championships
50 kg/110 lbs. - Gold – Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Silver – Emilia Vuc (Romania); Bronze – Valentina Islamova Brik (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Ekaterina Poleschuk (Russia); 5th – Oksana Livach (Ukraine); 5th – Sun Yanan (China); 7th - Evin Demirhan (Turkey); 8th - Yuki Irie (Japan); 9th - Ellen Riesterer (Germany); 10th - Fredrika Ida Petersson (Sweden)

2018 World Championships
50 kg/110 lbs. – Gold- Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver – Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Oksana Livach (Ukraine); Bronze- Yanan Sun (China); 5th- Ritu Ritu (India); 5th – Kim Son-Hyang (North Korea); 7th - Kseniya Stankevich (Belarus); 8th – Fredrika Peterrson (Sweden); 9th – Narangerel Erdenesuhk (Mongolia); Oleksandra Kogut (Austria)

2017 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold - Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver - Emilia Vuc (Romania); Bronze –Son-Hyang Kim (North Korea) ; Bronze – Evin Demirhan (Turkey); 5th - Victoria Anthony (United States); 5th - Violeta Chyryk (Belarus); 7th - Jasmine Mian (Canada); 8th – Anna Lukasiak (Poland); 9th - Julie Sabatie (France); 10th - Vinesh (India)

53 kg preview
U.S. representative: Dominique Parrish
Competition dates: September 13-14

The top four seeds are all 2021 Senior World medalists, with World champion Akari Fujinami of Japan at No. 1, World silver medalist Iulia Leorda of Moldova at No. 2, with bronze medalists Samantha Stewart of Canada at No. 3 and Katarzyna Krawczyk of Poland at No. 4. Since Oslo, Fujinami added a 2022 Asian title. Leorda was third at the 2022 Europeans and the Yasar Dogu Ranking Event. Stewart won the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Krawczyk won the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event and was third at the European Championships.

Of the other seeds, only one is a proven veteran, 2021 and 2017 World bronze medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece, who snagged the No. 8 seed. 2021 Junior World champion Emma Malmgren of Sweden is seeded No. 5, with 2022 U23 World bronze medalist Zeynep Yetgil of Turkey at No. 6. Competing in her first Senior Worlds is No. 7 seed Dominique Parrish of the USA, who won the 2022 Pan American Championships and has wrestled in three U23 World Championships.

None of the 2020 Olympic medalists are entered in the weight class, and the only top-10 placer from Tokyo in the field is Vinesh Phogat of India, who placed ninth. Vinesh added a 2022 Commonwealth Games title to her 2019 World bronze medal. Zhuldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan, who has competed on the Senior level since 2005, boasts a 2008 World silver medal and a 2011 World bronze medal.

Liliya Malanchuk of Ukraine, who won the 2022 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event, will be a challenger. A pair of 2021 Junior Pan American Games champions, Lucia Guzman of Ecuador at 50 kg and Laura Herin Avila of Cuba at 53 kg move up to the Senior level. 2020 Asian bronze medalist Aktenge Keunimjaeva of Uzbekistan will be someone to watch.

53 kg seeds:
No. 1 Akari Fujinami (Japan)
No. 2 Iulia Leorda (Moldova)
No. 3 Samantha Stewart (Canada)
No. 4 Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland)
No. 5 Emma Malmgren (Sweden)
No. 6 Zeynep Yetgil (Turkey)
No. 7 Dominique Parrish (USA)
No. 8 Maria Prevolaraki (Greece)


2021 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold – Akari Fujinami (Japan); Silver – Iulia Leorda (Moldova); Bronze – Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland); Bronze – Samantha Stewart (Canada); 5th – Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 5th – Khrystyna Bereza (Ukraine); 7th – Zeynep Yetgil (Turkey); 8th – Emma Denise Malmgren (Sweden); 9th – Annika Wendle (Germany); 10th – Eunyoung Park (Korea)

2020 Olympic Games
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver - Pang Qianyu (China); Bronze - Vanesa Kaladzinskya (Belarus); Bronze - Bolortuya Bat Ochir (Mongolia); 5th - Jacarra Winchester (USA); 5th - Joseph Essombe Tiako (Cameroon); 7th - Roksana Marta Zasina (Poland); 8th - Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 9th - Vinesh (India); 10th - Olga Khoroshavtseva (ROC)

2019 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold - Yong Mi Pak (North Korea); Silver - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Bronze – Vinesh (India); Bronze – Qianyu Pang (China); 5th – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece); 5th – Roksana Zasina (Poland); 7th - Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 8th - Lianna De La Caridad Montero Herrera (Cuba); 9th - Sarah Hildebrandt (USA); 10th - Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus)

2018 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold - Haruna Okuno (Japan); Silver - Sarah Hildebrandt (USA); Bronze - Qianyu Pang (China); Bronze - Diana Weicker (Canada); 5th - Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland); 5th - Zhuldyz Eshimova (Kazakhstan); 7th - Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres (Ecuador); 8th - Nina Hemmer (Germany); 9th - Anzhela Dorogan (Azerbaijan)

2017 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold - Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus); Silver - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Bronze – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece) ; Bronze – Roksana Zasina (Poland); 5th - Estera Dobre (Romania),; 5th - Tong-Mi Pak (North Korea); 7th - Stalvira Orshush (Russia); 8th - Haley Augello (USA); 9th - Iryna Husyak (Ukraine); 10th - Sheetal Tomar (India)

55 kg preview
U.S. representative: Jacarra Winchester
Competition dates: September 12-13

The top star in the field is unseeded, 2020 Olympic champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan, who won the Tokyo Games at 53 kg and is moving up to 55 kg. Mukaida won World titles in 2016 and 2018, and was second at the 2016 and 2019 Worlds. She has not wrestled since her Tokyo Olympic gold, and is going to smash the bracket when she gets drawn in.

The No. 4 seed and 2019 World champion Jacarra Winchester of the United States is the other gold medalist in the field. Winchester was fifth at the 2020 Olympics at 53 kg, and returns to the weight where she won her World title. Winchester won the Yasar Dogu Ranking Event this year.

The No. 1 seed is 2021 World silver medalist Nina Hemmer of Germany, who was beaten by Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai in the World finals. Hemmer won the Shgaier Ranking Event in Tunisia this year. No. 2 seed Oleksandra Khomenets of Ukraine was a 2021 World bronze medalist and added a 2022 European Championships title at 57 kg. The 2022 European champion at 55 kg is No. 3 Andreea Ana of Romania, who was also a 2021 U23 World champion. 2017 World bronze medalist Roksana Zasina of Poland gets the No. 5 seed, while 2022 Pan American champion Karla Godinez Gonzalez of Canada comes in at No. 6. A 2022 Asian bronze medalist, Shushma Shokeen of India, gets the No. 7 seed, while two-time U23 World bronze medalist Marina Sendeva of Kazakhstan is the No. 8 seed.

This weight class is not large in numbers. 2019 Asian champion Mengyu Xie of China will be a challenger, as will 2022 Pan American champion Yaynelis Sanz Verdecia of Cuba. Luisa Valverde of Ecuador was fifth in the 2021 World Championships. Others to watch are 2017 U23 World bronze medalist Otgonjargal Ganbaatar of Mongolia, 2021 Junior World bronze medalist Elvira Kamaloglu of Turkey and 2022 European bronze medalist Mariana Dragutan of Moldova.

55 kg seeds
No. 1 Nina Hemmer (Germany)
No. 2 Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine)
No. 3 Andreea Ana (Romania)
No. 4 Jacarra Winchester (USA)
No. 5 Roksana Zasina (Poland)
No. 6 Karla Godinez Gonzalez (Canada)
No. 7 Sushma Shokeen (India)
No. 8 Marina Sendeva (Kazakhstan)


2021 World Championships
55 kg/ 121 lbs. - Gold – Tsugumi Sakurai (Japan); Silver – Nina Hemmer (Germany); Bronze – Oleksandra Khomenets (Ukraine); Bronze – Jenna Burkert (USA); 5th – Olga Khoroshavtseva (RWF); 5th - Pinki (India); 7th – Andreea Beatrice Ana (Romania); 8th – Esther Kolawole (Nigeria); 9th – Roksana Zasina (Poland); 10th – Mehlika Ozturk (Turkey)

2019 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs - Gold - Jacarra Winchester (USA); Silver - Nanami Irie (Japan); Bronze – Olga Khoroshavtseva (Russia); Bronze - Bolortuya Bat Ochir (Mongolia); 5th – Marina Sedniva (Kazakhstan); 5th - Behiha Gun (Turkey); 7th - Iryna Husyak (Ukraine); 8th - Anna Lukasiak (Poland); 9th - Annika Wendle (Germany); 10th - Mengyu Xie (China)

2018 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver - Zalina Sidakova (Belarus); Bronze –Lianna Montero Herrera (Cuba); Bronze - Myong Suk Jong (North Korea); 5th - Jacarra Winchester (USA); 5th - Qi Zhang (China); 7th – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); 8th – Irina Olgonova (Russia); 9th – Davaanchimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 10th – Tatyana Kit (Ukraine)

2017 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Haruna Okuno (Japan); Silver - Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria); Bronze – Becka Leathers (United States); Bronze – Irina Kurachkina (Belarus); 5th - Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria); 5th - Mathilde Riviere (France); 7th - Mariia Gurova (Russia); 8th - Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 9th - Lalita (India); 10th - Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan)

57 kg preview
U.S. representative: Helen Maroulis
Competition days: September 14-15

The No. 1 seed is one of the greatest women wrestlers ever, 2016 Olympic champion and three-time World champion Helen Maroulis of the United States. Maroulis is the returning World champion and is the only 2021 World medalist from this weight in the field. Maroulis was also a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, the first U.S. woman to win two Olympic wrestling medals. No. 2 seed Evelina Nikolova of Bulgaria was the other 2020 Olympic bronze medalist at this weight class and was second in the 2022 European Championships.

The wild card in the draw is 2021 World champion Tsugumi Sakurai of Japan, who moves up from 55 kg and does not receive a seed. Sakurai won the 2022 Asian Championships at 57 kg, but did not score enough points at this weight class for seeding. She was a a 2016 U17 World champion in her only other World appearance for Japan. Another star without a seed is 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Bolortuya Bat-Ochir of Mongolia, who was at 53 kg at the Tokyo Games and was also a 2019 World bronze medalist. Both will be drawn into the brackets.

None of the other seeds have won a Senior World or Olympic medal. The Pan American nations have three of the top four seeds, with No. 3 Giullia Rodrigues Penalber de Oliveira of Brazil and No. 4 Alma Valencia Escoto of Mexico. Both were in the top 10 at the 2021 Worlds. Valencia placed second and Rodriguez third at the 2022 Pan American Championships. No. 5 seed Sandra Paruszewski of Germany was third at the 2022 European Championships. At No. 7 is 2022 Asian champion Mansi Ahlawat of India. The final two seeds were both 2021 U23 World champions, with No. 7 Alina Hrushyna Akobiia of Ukraine at 57 kg and No. 8 Anhelina Lysak of Poland at 59 kg at the U23’s.

Others who could threaten for a medal include European U23 champion Zhala Aliyeva of Azerbaijan, 2021 U23 World bronze medalist Hannah Taylor of Canada. 2022 European bronze medalist Bediha Gun of Turkey and 2021 Asian bronze medalist Hyungjoo Kim of Korea

57 kg seeds:
No. 1 Helen Maroulis (USA)
No. 2 Evelina Nikolova (Bulgaria)
No. 3 Giullia Rodrigues Penalber de Oliveira (Brazil)
No. 4 Alma Valencia Escoto (Mexico)
No. 5 Sandra Paruszewski (Germany)
No. 6 Mansi Ahlawat (India)
No. 7 Alina Hrushyna Akobiia (Ukraine)
No. 8 Anhelina Lysak (Poland)


2021 World Championships
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Gold – Helen Maroulis (USA) ; Silver – Anshu (India) ; Bronze – Sae Nanjo (Japan); Bronze – Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia) ; 5th – Veronika Chumikova (RWF) ; 5th – Solomiia Vynnyk (Ukraine) ; 7th – Giullia Rodrigues Penalber De Oliveira (Brazil); 8th – Eveline Nikolova (Bulgaria); 9th – Nilufar Raimova (Kazakhstan); 10th – Alma Valencia Escoto (Mexico)

2020 Olympic Games
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver - Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus); Bronze - Helen Maroulis (USA); Bronze - Evalina Nikolova (Bulgaria); 5th - Khongorzul Boldsaikhan (Mongolia); 5th - Valeria Koblova (ROC); 7th - Anastasia Nichita (Moldova); 8th - Tetyana Kit (Ukraine); 9th - Anshu (India); 10th - Rong Ningning (China)

2019 World Championships
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan) , Silver - Ningning Rong (China) , Bronze - Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria) , Bronze - Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus), 5th - Jowita Maria Wrzesien (Poland) , 5th - Anastasia Nichita (Moldova) , 7th - Simonyan (Russia) , 8th - Giullia Rodriguez Penalber de Oliveira (Brazil), 9th - In Sun Jong (North Korea), 10th - Grace Bullen (Norway)

2018 World Championships
57 kg/128 lbs. - Gold - Ningning Rong (China); Silver - Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria); Bronze - Emese Barka (Hungary); Bronze - Pooja Dhanda (India); 5th - Kateryna Zhydachevska (Romania); 5th - Grace Bullen (Norway); 7th - Jieun Um (Korea); 8th - In Sun Jong (North Korea); 9th - Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria); 10th - Alyona Kolesnik (Azerbaijan)

2017 World Championships
58 kg/128 lbs. - Gold - Helen Maroulis (United States); Silver - Marwa Amri (Tunisia); Bronze – Michelle Fazzari (Canada) ; Bronze –Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan); 5th - Ningning Rong (China); 5th - Elin Nilsson (Sweden); 7th - Yessica Oviedo Perez (Dominican Republic); 8th - Iryna Khariv (Ukraine); 9th - Aminat Adeniyi (Nigeria); 10th - Giedre Blekaityte (Lithuania)

59 kg preview
U.S. representative: Abigail Nette
Competition dates: September 14-15

Want to talk about a wide open weight class? This could be it. Regardless of the seeds, there really aren’t any dominant favorites at 59 kg, which offer some interesting action. The No. 1 seed is Sarita Mor of India, a 2021 World bronze medalist who won two Ranking Events this year, in Tunisia and in Kazakhstan. The No. 2 seed is 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Shoovdor Baatarjav of Mongolia, a three-time World bronze medalist (2018, 2019, 2021) who was also a 2022 Asian silver medalist. Poland’s Jowita Wrzesien, the 2022 European silver medalist who won medals at two Ranking Events this year (Turkey and Italy), earned the No. 3. Coming in at No. 4 is 2022 Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix champion Alyona Kolesnik of Azerbaijan, who was fourth at the 2022 European Championships.

2022 Senior and U23 European champion Anastasia Nichita of Moldova gets the No. 5 seed. She also won a title at the 2022 Yasar Dogu Ranking Tournament and is a 2017 Junior World champion. No. 6 seed Grace Bullen of Norway won U23 and U17 age-group World titles. 2022 Asian U23 silver medalist Diana Kaymova of Kazakhstan comes in at No. 7, and 2022 European bronze medalist Elena Brugger of Germany gets No. 8.

2018 World bronze medalist Diana Weicker of Canada is among the unseeded athletes. Japan brings an unseeded wrestler, 2017 U17 World champion Sakura Motoki, who has no Senior-level international experience. Qi Zhang of China, a 2017 U23 World bronze medalist, is also getting drawn in. 2020 European silver medalist Solomiia Vynnyk of Ukraine, a 2021 European bronze medalist, is also competing. First-time Senior World Team member Abigail Nette of the USA has been on two U23 World Teams.

59 kg seeds:
No. 1 Sarita Mor (India)
No. 2 Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia)
No. 3 Jowita Wrzesien (Poland)
No. 4 Alyona Kolesnik (Azerbaijan)
No. 5 Anastasia Nichita (Moldova)
No. 6 Grace Bullen (Norway)
No. 7 Diana Kayumova (Kazakhstan)
No. 8 Elena Brugger (Germany)


2021 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold – Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria); Silver – Akie Hanai (Japan); Bronze – Sarita (India); Bronze – Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 5th – Sara Lindborg (Sweden); 5th – Maya Nelson (USA); 7th – Linda Morais (Canada); 8th – Sandra Paruszewski (Germany); 9th – Krystsina Sazykina (Belarus); 10th – Alyona Kolesnik (Azerbaijan)

2019 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Linda Morais (Canada); Silver - Liubov Ovcharova (Russia); Bronze - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); Bronze - Xingru Pei (China); 5th - Pooja Dhanda (India); 5th - Anhelina Lysak (Ukraine); 7th - Tetiana Omelchenko (Azerbaijan); 8th - Yuzuka Inagaki (Japan); 9th - Sandra Paruszewski (Germany); 10th - Elif Yanik (Turkey)

2018 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan), Silver - Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey); Bronze –Xingru Pei (China); Bronze - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 5th - Svetlana Lipitova (Russia); 5th - Alejandro Romero Bonilla (Mexico); 7th – Sarita (India); 8th – Joseph Essombe Taiko (Cameroon); 9th – Linda Morais (Canada); 10th – Sofia Bodnar (Ukraine)

2017 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver - Alli Ragan (USA); Bronze –Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia) ; Bronze –Johanna Mattsson (Sweden); 5th - Luisa Niemesch (Germany); 5th - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 7th - Linda Morais (Canada); 8th - Kriszta Tunde Incze (Romania); 9th - Mimi Nikolova Hristova (Bulgaria); 10th - Thi My Hanh Nguyen (Vietnam)

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