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U.S., Canada, Ukraine put on great show during Battle at the Falls event



American Brittney Roberts (in red) rallied past Ukraine's Katerina Burmistrova to clinch a U.S. victory on Friday. Rick Denham photo.

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario, Canada – Women’s freestyle wrestling continues to grow and build on all levels, and that was clearly evident during the exciting Battle at the Falls event on Friday.

Teams from the United States, Canada and Ukraine put on a great show during three action-packed dual meets held before a supportive crowd at the Gale Centre.

The dual capped World Wrestling Month as the sport continues its quest to maintain its spot on the Olympic Games program.

The U.S. downed Ukraine 16-13 in the first dual meet before Canada topped Ukraine 20-11. Canada defeated the U.S. 18-10 in the final dual on Friday night.

The U.S. started its dual against Canada with a big win when Carlene Sluberski, from nearby Fredonia, N.Y., defeated Natasha Kramble 11-0 at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.

“This was a great event and it was awesome to get an opportunity to wrestle here,” Sluberski said. “They put on a pretty big show and I think all the teams enjoyed it. I was really nervous in my first match and I really wanted to put on a better show in my second match.”

American Veronica Carlson looked strong in earning a 9-0 win over Canada’s Stacie Anaka in a battle of past Junior World medalists at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.

“This event was really important,” Carlson said. “A big factor with the International Olympic Committee is gender equality. Women’s wrestling is a growing sport. To capitalize on this event here is really important for us as a global community of women’s wrestlers, and events like this will help our sport grow.”

Canada capped the win over the U.S. when World champion Jessica MacDonald earned a 10-0 win in the final match at 51 kg/112.25 lbs.

Americans Katherine Fulp-Allen and Brittney Roberts earned impressive come-from-behind wins over past World medalists in the Ukraine dual.

Fulp-Allen trailed by a point late in the match with Irina Husyak before gaining a takedown and exposure with 12 seconds left to earn an exciting 8-6 win at 55 kg/121 lbs.

“Down 6-5, I knew I still had time and I had to wait until the right moment to set up what I needed,” Fulp-Allen said. “It was pretty exciting to get the team going with a win. I definitely think the new rules cater to my style of wrestling where we can score more points now.”

With the U.S. leading Ukraine 13-12 in the team score entering the final bout, Roberts rallied with a takedown with a minute left to knock off past World champion Katerina Burmistrova 5-4 at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

“It was super exciting,” Roberts said. “I knew I had to win for us to win the dual. I wanted to perform for our team. It was exhilarating to get that last takedown to win the match.”

Two-time Junior World medalist Alli Ragan also delivered with a big win at 59 kg/130 lbs. Ragan stormed out quickly with two headlocks on her way to downing past World medalist Natalya Synyshyn 12-4 at 59 kg/130 lbs.

World champion Elena Pirozhkova followed with an impressive 10-0 win over past World champion Ganna Vasilenko at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

The dual meet took place two days after the International Olympic Committee Executive Board placed wrestling, along with baseball/softball and squash, on the short list of sports to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. The final vote, by the 101-member IOC, will take place Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The IOC Executive Board had recommended in February that wrestling be removed as a core Olympic sport in 2020.

The event in Canada capped a great month for wrestling where the Rumble on the Rails event in New York City and the United 4 Wrestling event in Los Angeles were held. The U.S., Iran and Russia competed in New York with the U.S., Russia and Canada wrestling in L.A. Greco-Roman teams from the U.S., Serbia, Hungary and Lithuania also competed in the Curby Cup in Chicago this month.

The women’s teams from the U.S., Canada and Ukraine visited historic Niagara Falls on Friday morning, and took part in a photo shoot before the wrestling event. The teams all posed together for photos on the elevated mat followed the dual Friday night.

American wrestling legend Dan Gable also appeared at the event.

“It was such an awesome event here,” Roberts said. “It was great to see all the unity and friendship between countries. It was so much fun talking to the girls from Canada and Ukraine. There are so many people around the world who really love wrestling. We love Olympic wrestling – it’s a great sport.”

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

USA 16, UKRAINE 13
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Maria Livach (Ukraine) dec. Carlene Sluberski (USA), 15-3
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Yulia Blahinya (Ukraine) dec. Jessica Medina (USA), 6-1
55 kg/121 lbs. – Katherine Fulp-Allen (USA) dec. Irina Husyak (Ukraine), 8-6
59 kg/130 lbs. – Alli Ragan (USA) dec. Natalya Synyshyn (Ukraine), 12-4
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova (USA) dec. Ganna Vasilenko (Ukraine), 10-0
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Alina Stadnik-Makinya (Ukraine) dec. Veronica Carlson (USA), 13-6
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Brittney Roberts (USA) dec. Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine), 5-4

CANADA 20, UKRAINE 11
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Maria Livach (Ukraine) dec. Natasha Kramble (Canada), 10-4
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Jessica MacDonald (Canada) dec. Yulia Blahinya (Ukraine), 15-4
55 kg/121 lbs. – Irina Husyak (Ukraine) pinned Jillian Gallays (Canada), 0:59
59 kg/130 lbs. – Braxton Papadopoulus (Canada) pinned Natalya Synyshyn (Ukraine), 2:56
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Justine Bouchard (Canada) dec. Ganna Vasilenko (Ukraine), 8-7
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Stacie Anaka (Canada) dec. Alina Stadnik-Makinya (Ukraine), 9-7
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Erica Wiebe (Canada) dec. Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine), 11-0

CANADA 18, USA 10
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Carlene Sluberski (USA) dec. Natasha Kramble (Canada), 11-0
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Erica Wiebe (Canada) dec. Brittney Roberts (USA), 12-4
55 kg/121 lbs. – Jillian Gallays (Canada) dec. Katherine Fulp-Allen (USA), 9-2
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Veronica Carlson (USA) dec. Stacie Anaka (Canada), 9-0
59 kg/130 lbs. – Braxton Papadopoulos (Canada) pinned Alli Ragan (USA), 1:13
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Justine Bouchard (Canada) dec. Erin Clodgo (USA), 7-4
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Jessica MacDonald (Canada) dec. Jessica Medina (USA), 10-0
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