photo courtesy of USA Wrestling
On the final evening of women’s action at the Cadet World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, the United States women came away with three more medals which helped the team accumulate 106 team points, which was good enough for third place. Japan with six gold medalists and 195 points ran away with the team race, followed by China with 127 points. The three medalists on Friday combined with the two won on Thursday gave the US women five medalists, which matches a high set by the team in 2016. Three American women made the world finals which had not been done by a Cadet women’s team since the resurrection of the tournament in 2011.
Sterling Dias was the first woman to take the mat for the United States on Friday and jumped out to an early lead on her opponent Komal Komal (India) with a first period takedown during the 40 kg gold medal match. The pair exchanged takedowns in the second which saw Dias leading 4-2 with approximately 20 seconds left in the bout. That led to Komal getting another at the edge of the mat, tying the match at four, but the Indian wrestler was ahead on criteria due to scoring last. Sterling furiously attempted to retake the lead in the waning seconds of the match, yet she was held off by Komal and had to settle for silver. The medal is the second in as many years for Dias, who came away with a world bronze in 2018 at the same weight class.
With semifinal losses on Thursday, both Kylie Welker (61 kg) and Amit Elor (69 kg) secured places in Friday’s bronze medal matches. Welker took the mat first and wasted no time in claiming her medal. After a takedown and a gut wrench her opponent, Laylokhon Sobirova (Uzbekistan), attempted to hop over Kylie for a reversal. That attempt was stymied by Welker and she caught Sobirova on her match. Welker never relinquished the hold and a fall was called, confirming her first world medal. Just two matches later, Elor would get one of her own. The 2019 California state champ set the tone early with a huge four-point throw of African champion Zaineb Sghaier (Tunisia) which almost resulted in a fall of her own. Elor would keep attacked and didn’t stop until she put 12 unanswered points on the board and the match was halted ed due to technical superiority.
On Thursday, Cristelle Rodriguez (49 kg) and Skylar Hattendorf (57 kg) were also awarded silver medals after they reached the world finals at their respective weights. Both Rodriguez and Hattendorf fell to an opponent from Japan in the gold medal match.
The showing for the American women is impressive on its own; however, when you consider that nine of the ten team members were on their first Cadet world team (Dias is the exception) and all ten could be eligible to return in 2020, it makes the future look even brighter.