On Saturday night at U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, six American women punched their tickets to the Tokyo Games.
The first to make it official was Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kg), who defeated high school junior Kennedy Blades 12-4, 8-1.
It was technically Mensah-Stock’s second time winning U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Five years ago, she won her weight class at Trials, but because the U.S. hadn’t yet earned a quota spot in the class, her ticket to Rio was contingent on going through last-chance qualifying tournaments. When she didn’t achieve the required result (top two) at either event, her door to the Rio Olympics closed.
In the lead-up to Tokyo, Mensah-Stock confirmed that she wouldn’t have a similar fate this time around. She won the 2019 world title at 68 kg, qualifying her weight class for the Olympics, and earning a bye to the best-of-three finals at this year’s U.S. Trials.
Adeline Gray secured her roster spot at 76kg to make her second Olympic team.
Gray was initially expected to contend for gold at the 2016 Rio Games, but the Colorado native shockingly lost in the quarterfinal round. A few months later, Gray revealed that she had been dealing with a shoulder injury at the time. She had shoulder surgery in January 2017 and spent the next nine months away from the mat while rehabbing. After missing 2017 Worlds, she won back-to-back world titles in 2018 and 2019, breaking the record for most world titles won by an American wrestler (male or female).
On Saturday night, Gray made quick work of her opponent: Kylie Welker, a 17-year-old was too young to compete at Olympic Trials until the Games were postponed.
Gray won both matches by technical superiority (10-0, 11-0).
“Anytime you can score 20 points in less than three minutes, it’s a good day,” Gray said in her post-match press conference.
Helen Maroulis – who in 2016 became the first American woman to win wrestling gold – also made her second straight Olympic team.
In the years since the Rio Games, it didn’t always look like Maroulis would be able to make it back to the Olympic stage. In January 2018, she suffered a head injury while wrestling in India. She spent much of the next two years dealing with complications from the concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to undergoing shoulder surgery. She even briefly retired from the sport before returning to competition in March 2020.
In her post-match press conference tonight, Maroulis revealed another injury: a torn MCL just two-and-a-half weeks ago.
Helen says her mer mom drove her three hours each way to take her from her training base at Penn State to a doctor’s appointment in Maryland, where she was told she would be in a brace for six weeks.
To which Maroulis responded: “I have two-and-a-half weeks.”
True sportsmanship. ❤️
After their match, Helen Maroulis embraced and gave support to her opponent Jenna Burkert who lost her mother last week.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) April 4, 2021
The full U.S. women’s wrestling roster for the Tokyo Olympics:
50 kg/110 lbs: Sarah Hildebrandt
53 kg/116 lbs: Jacarra Winchester
57 kg/125 lbs: Helen Maroulis
62 kg/136 lbs: Kayla Miracle
68 kg/149 lbs: Tamyra Mensah-Stock
76 kg/167 lbs: Adeline Gray
[READ MORE: Helen Maroulis, trailblazing Olympic wrestling champion, back at trials after briefly retiring]Follow @AlexAzziNBC
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