photo courtesy of Larry Slater
Saturday from Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Sarah Hildebrandt became the first American to capture gold in 2019 at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix when she did so at 53 kg. The Yarygin is the first ranking event of the year for men’s and women’s freestyle, so the win will aid Hildebrandt when it comes to seeding for the 2019 World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. Sarah’s journey started with a 13-2 win over Sumiya Erdenechimeg (Mongolia), an Asian silver medalist in 2018. In the semi’s, Hildebrandt needed a late takedown to edge 2017 U23 World bronze medalist Ekaterina Poleshchuk (Russia) on criteria 4-4. It was another Russia for Sarah to topple in the finals for the gold medal, 2014 Junior World Champion Natalya Malysheva. Hildebrandt scored the only points of the first period on a takedown and led 2-0 at the break. The Russian came back strong in the second period with a pair of takedowns and after the second she attempted a gut wrench. Sarah was able to step over the gut attempt and earned two exposure points, then added two more to take the title 6-4.
This is the first gold at the Yarygin for Sarah, as she won a silver medal at this event back in 2017. Last year Hildebrandt picked up her first world medal when she made the finals at 53 kg. Her world medal will allow her to automatically advance to Final X without having to go through the US Open and the World Team Trials. The win caps off an eventful week for Sarah. On Tuesday it was announced that Sarah would be the first female wrestler sponsored by Rudis.