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U.S. women’s team continues to thrive


OLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Women’s freestyle wrestling continues to grow in the United States and around the World. That was evident at the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

The number of entries continues to grow and the level of competition keeps getting better. It is kind of hard to believe that we are preparing to see women’s wrestling in the Olympics for the third time when they take the mat next year in London. Optimism is high in the U.S. as American coaches Terry

Steiner, Vladislav Izboinikov and Erin Tomeo have very strong teams going right now at the Senior and Junior levels. The U.S. turned in a strong performance at the Worlds, tying

for third place in the team standings. Ali Bernard wrestled the tournament of her life at the 2011

World Championships, beating an Olympic gold medalist, an Olympic silver medalist, a World silver medalist and a World fifth-place finisher en route to winning a bronze medal at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in Turkey. Bernard placed fifth in the 2008 Olympics and is a legitimate contender to win an Olympic gold medal next year. She proved she is never out of a match and never stops wrestling. She is a dangerous wrestler who always is a threat to pin her opponent. 2010 World silver medalist Elena Pirozhkova and 2008 World champion Clarissa Chun also are wrestlers who can contend for the top spot in London. Pirozhkova has closed the gap on Olympic and World cham-

pion Kaori Icho of Japan at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Pirozhkova placed fifth at the Worlds, but she has the skills to win an Olympic title. Chun started strong at the Worlds at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. before

falling just short of winning a medal this year. Chun is back healthy again, and is capable of doing some serious damage next year. She has a great arsenal on her feet and will be very tough to beat if she continues to go to her offense. Chun made the Olympic semifinals in 2008. Helen Maroulis is another young wrestler who continues to improve. Maroulis had a strong season, winning a Junior World silver medal before placing fifth at the Senior Worlds. Maroulis has come up through the USA Wrestling ranks and has the potential to be the best in the World at the Senior level. Maroulis will have to battle two-time World bronze medalist

Craig Sesker

Tatiana Padilla to make the U.S. team at 55 kg/121 lbs. Padilla was sidelined with an injury this year, but is back training again. Maroulis and Padilla have had some great battles in the past and expect more of the same at April’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City. Adeline Gray is another wrestler who could contend for a spot

on the Olympic Team. Gray won a World bronze medal this year at the non-Olympic weight class at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. Gray dropped down to 63 kilos for the 2011 U.S. World Team Trials, falling to Pirozhkova in the finals. 2012 could be a huge year for the women’s freestyle pro-

gram. The U.S. will compete in four weight classes at the Olympics and then will have an opportunity to wrestle in all seven weight classes at the 2012 World Championships on Sept. 28-30 in Strathcona County, Canada. The U.S. is looking for a big season in 2012, and don’t be surprised to see Steiner’s talented young crew bringing home its share of hardware next year.

42 USA Wrestler

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