photo courtesy of Richard Immel
On the first day of the Pan-American Olympic Games Qualifier, the men’s Greco-Roman team stepped up and qualified four of the six Olympic weights. The women’s freestyle team happened to be even better on day two of the event. The world championships in 2019 by Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kg) and Adeline Gray (76 kg) qualified those weights for the 2020 Olympic Games, so only four additional weights needed to get qualified on Saturday.
Not only did all four of the US women competing Saturday achieve their goals and get their weight qualified, but they all were extremely impressive in their own right.
After spending the last two years at 53 kgs, Sarah Hildebrandt has moved down to 50 kg for the Olympic year and it appears to be an excellent decision. Though there have been tough American women at the weight, we have not medaled on the World/Olympic stage at the opening weight class since Alyssa Lampe did so (bronze) at 48kg in 2013. Sarah was able to make the finals after a pair of victories by technical superiority. The second was by the score of 11-0 over three-time world medalist and 2012 non-Olympic world champion Jessica McDonald (Canada). Like the remainder of the American contingent, Hildebrandt did not wrestle in the finals after her weight was qualified.
Also moving down a weight from the 2019 class was Jacarra Winchester, a gold medalist last year at 55 kg at the World Championships. Since that is a non-Olympic weight, Jacarra had to make a decision to go up or down. Right out of the gate, Winchester had to face a 2018 World bronze medalist in Lianna Montero Herrera (Cuba) in the first bout of her round-robin competition. After a slow start, Winchester turned it on late and was able to pull away, 6-2. After teching her Mexican opponent, Winchester secured the American team’s spot in the Olympics by downing Samantha Stewart (Canada), 8-4.
Making her first international appearance in over a year was 2016 Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis at 57 kgs. Helen had her toughest competition right away, as well, but the scoreboard did not seem to notice. Maroulis notched a 10-2 win over 2019 World Champion Linda Morais (Canada), showing no signs of rust. Helen would need to win three more bouts to make the finals and qualify the weight for Tokyo, which she did with ease. Her semifinal win came by the score of 11-0 over Nes Rodriguez Tirado (Puerto Rico).
Finally, Kayla Miracle dominated her weight through the 62 kg bracket. Miracle started her tournament with a fall and in her third match, she teched two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline Renteria-Castillo (Colombia) 11-0. Miracle’s closest bout of the tournament came in her second match when she defeated Alejandra Romero Bonilla (Mexico), 5-1.
Remember, just because these women’s freestyle weights have all be qualified for Tokyo, these are not the women who will represent the United States at the Games. That will be determined at the Olympic Team Trials, which, as of now, have been postponed. If these four, along with Mensah-Stock and Gray happened to be in the lineup at the Olympics, it would be a formidable group, capable of multiple golds and each a medal threat.
Today, the men’s freestyle team will be in action. 57, 65, 86, and 125 kgs will need to be qualified for the Olympics.