World Team Trials preview at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle

BY GARY ABBOTT, USA WRESTLING

Whitney Conder battles Haley Augello in the 2015 Dave Schultz Memorial International. Photo by Robbert Wijtman.

The United States boasts the reigning Olympic champion at 53 kg, the amazing Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. woman to achieve this lofty level of success. Helen Maroulis will not be competing at 53 kg this year, and may never see this weight class again. In fact, in her first international competition of 2017, Maroulis wrestled at 60 kg, three weight classes higher, winning a bronze at the Outstanding Ukrainian Memorial.

There is another 2016 U.S. Olympic Team member who is expected at 53 kg this year, Haley Augello, who dropped to 48 kg last season during her Olympic redshirt year from college and earned her trip to the Rio Olympic Games. Augello placed ninth at the Olympic Games and has since moved back up to this weight class. She won her third WCWA College Nationals title for King University at 116 pounds, then went to Ukraine, where she won a bronze medal at 53 kg. She competed at this weight class in recent seasons, and was third on Women’s Team USA here back in 2015.

The most experienced and successful athlete at this weight class is three-time World Team member Whitney Conder, who also won the gold medal at the U.S. Open in December, her fourth career Senior national title. Maroulis beat Conder in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last year.

Conder was the No. 1 athlete at this weight when Augello competed here in 2015. Conder wrestled in the 2011, 2014 and 2015 World Championships, and was a 2015 Pan American Games gold medalist. As has been the case for a number of years, nobody wins this weight class without having to go through Conder.

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