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|2013 U.S. Open women’s freestyle preview for Las Vegas|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
It was a busy summer of wrestling for America’s women wrestlers, with the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England and the 2012 Women’s World Championships in Sherwood Park, Canada.
The highlight of the Olympic Games was the bronze-medal performance of Clarissa Chun at 48 kg., with some amazing wrestling including a win over 2004 Olympic champion Irini Merlini of Ukraine for her bronze medal. Chun, a 2008 World champion, has not ruled out a run for a third Olympic team in 2016. Also competing in the London Games were Kelsey Campbell at 51 kg, Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kg and two-time Olympian Ali Bernard at 72 kg.
Only a few weeks later were the 2012 World Championships, and the USA had a great effort, led by World champions Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kg and Adeline Gray at 67 kg. Team USA placed third, with a silver medal from Helen Maroulis at 55 kg and a bronze medal at 51 kg by Alyssa Lampe.
The new season has begun, and some veteran athletes are not competing due to injury or retirement. There are numerous young stars who have had a great start this season, seeking to make their mark at the national level. The event is a qualifier for the World Team Trials in Stillwater, Okla. in June.
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
World champion and Olympic medalist Clarissa Chun has been injured and is not expected for the U.S. Open and may not compete this season. This leaves an opportunity for Olympic Trials runner-up Alyssa Lampe to seek the national title and another World Team berth in June. Lampe went up a weight to win a World bronze medal last September and has continued to wrestle well throughout the news season back down at 48 kg.
Looking strong has been two-time Junior World champion Victoria Anthony, who repeated as University Nationals champion and won another WCWA college title for Simon Fraser. Looking to move up in the rankings is two-time Junior World bronze medalist Erin Golston, who has been consistent this year and was second to Anthony at University Nationals.
One of the top college stars has been Emily Webster of Oklahoma City, a WCWA national champion and winner of the Pan Am Wrestle-off with a win over Golston. OTC resident Candace Workman won a University Nationals title at 51 kg, but is expected to challenge back at 48 kg. College star Emily Martin should contend for a high place at the U.S. Open after taking first and second in the college nationals the last two years. The depth in this weight class comes from the college ranks, with Caitlyn Chase, Shannon Constantine, Brianna Rahal and Jessica Fresh among the rising talents. Watch for high school star Amy Hou if she tests herself at this level.
51 kg/112.25 lbs.
One of the top stars in U.S. wrestling in recent years has been Whitney Conder, who has joined the U.S. Army program after many years at the USOTC. Conder made a U.S. World Team and is capable of winning more titles when she returns to the mat. Another talent at this weight is two-time World Team member Jessica Medina. Like Conder she dropped to 48 kg for the Olympic run, but has been strong at 51 kg for many years.
The top young talent is the mix is Cadet World champion and Junior World Team member Haley Augello, a high school student who earned a spot on the Senior Pan American Team this year. Augello has been wrestling on the Senior level for a few years and is showing great progress. WCWA college national champion Joey Miller of Oklahoma City is also a talented freestyle wrestler. Looking to drop down to this weight and make a run is Carlene Sluberski, a past U.S. Junior World Team member who now attends college in Canada.
The college community will feature some young talents who could be All-Americans in Vegas, including Amy Fearnside, Savannah Nobile, Kristie Garr and Alexis Rodriguez. Another young talent with Senior experience is Kalin Knight-Alvarez. There could be some new faces emerging this year, especially if some top knotch high school athletes give it a run at the U.S. Open.
55 kg/121 lbs.
Helen Maroulis has been one of the top women wrestlers for a number of years. She won a World silver medal at this weight in Canada, after falling just short of making the Olympic Team last April. Maroulis has also been fifth in the World Championships and has vast international experience. She recently won her third WCWA college national title as well.
A fast rising college star is Sarah Hildebrandt of King College, who won a gold medal at the Senior Pan American Championships and also took the University Nationals title. Another title contender is past University World champion Katherine Fulp-Allen, who was third at the Olympic Trials and has considerable international experience. A reigning WCWA college national champion who is capable of success is Katerina Perez of King College.
Veteran star Michaela Hutchison, who finished a great college career last year and has been strong in freestyle nationally, will be a threat if she wrestles at U.S. Open. Another experienced star is past Junior World bronze medalist Amy Whitbeck. The college ranks continue to develop new talents, including Brieana Delgado, Samantha Klingel, Jaccara Winchester and Kayla Brendlinger.
59 kg/130 lbs.
The 2012 Olympian at 55 kg was Kelsey Campbell, who was a World Team member and national champion at 59 kg a number of times. Campbell has not been able to compete this year and is not expected in Las Vegas. Another two-time World Team member Leigh Jaynes is not competing this spring. Without these two veteran stars, this weight class is ready for a new No. 1.
Looking to take that spot is two-time Junior World bronze medalist Alli Ragan of King College, who dropped down to this weight during spring competition. Ragan won a WCWA college title, then placed fourth at the Dave Schultz and won the University Nationals. She is a pre-event favorite here. Shauna Isbell of Lindenwood, a college champion with considerable international experience, is capable of big things. Jenna Burkert, a two-time Junior World Team member now training at the USOTC, brings talent and power to this weight class.
Deanna Betterman, who made two U.S. World Teams at this weight, returns to the mat after taking time off to have her first child. Her husband Joe is a top Greco-Roman star. Randi Beltz, a past Pan Am team member who has been successful on the college level, is another young star. College wrestlers with potential include Audrey Morehouse, Cianah Hee, Anna McAleavy and Aleah LaFrancis.
63 kg/138.5 lbs.
One of our nation’s top stars is 2012 World champion and 2012 Olympian Elena Pirozhkova. She was also a World silver medalist in 2010. Pirozhkova has made all the U.S. teams since the 2008 World Championships, and is capable of beating anybody on the world level. She won the Dave Schultz Memorial this year as a tuneup.
There is strong talent behind Pirozhkova at this weight class. Jennifer Page, the 2013 University Nationals champion, has been getting more international experience and continues to improve. Erin Clodgo, a past U.S. Open champion, is a world-class wrestler at this division. Page beat Clodgo in the University Nationals finals in a tough battle a few weeks before the U.S. Open.
College wrestler Amanda Hendey of King, who was a U.S. Open runner-up while still in high school in California, is capable of strong performances. The rest of the top contenders should be from the college ranks. Stephanie Geltmacher of Oklahoma City has been a WCWA finalist in recent years. Other college prospects include Monica Ramirez, Lauren Louive, Beatrize Martinez, Kerstin Harmon and Shai Mason.
67 kg/147.5 lbs.
The U.S. has the reigning World champion at this weight, Adeline Gray, who is expected to give 72 kg a try this season. Coming into the U.S. Open, Veronica Carlson could be the favorite. Carlson moved up from 63 kg this year and has been red hot. She won the University Nationals, and took medals at the Dave Schultz and in Ukraine. Her top challenger could be college star Julia Salata, a member of the 2012 Junior and University World Teams. Salata made the Senior Pan Am team and is showing consistency when she wrestles at 67 kg instead of 72 kg.
One of the talents in college is Wayland Baptist’s Tamyra Menshah, who has placed high at the WCWA college nationals and the University Nationals. Brittany David, who lost to Salata in the Junior World Team Trials last year in a competitive series, is another rising star.
The rest of the field here includes improving college athletes such as Kayla Aggio, Amy Spafford, Rachel Shannon, Amanda Prough, Crystal Borrow and Brittany Gadd. This is a weight where some new names could emerge on the national level in Las Vegas.
72 kg/158.5 lbs.
There was tremendous talent in this weight class last year, but much of it may not be competing this year. Two-time Olympian Ali Bernard, World champion Iris Smith and two-time World champion Kristie Davis all made a run for the Olympic team, with Bernard competing in London. Smith wrestled at the 2012 World Championships. None have wrestled since then, and many expect they won’t be in Vegas this year.
World champion Adeline Gray, who has been wrestling at 72 kg this year, was injured this winter and is not expected to be ready for the U.S. Open. This means a new national champion could emerge this year. The hottest heavyweight on the scene this winter has been Brittany Roberts of Oklahoma City, who was second at the Pan Am Championships, won the University Nationals, took second at the WCWA Nationals and competed for the USA at the World Cup.
Christine Zamora of Jamestown has been a consistent contender in recent years. Mei Ling Keiki, a former college national champion, is now wrestling for the U.S. Air Force. The college ranks include Victoria Francis, Sydney Nelson, Lorrie Ramos, Kim Spiegel and Demi Strub. Cadet World medalist Anastasia Lobsinger might break through this year.
April 2013 TheMat.com U.S. Senior Women's Rankings
2012 U.S. Open Women's Freestyle Results