World Team Trials preview at 58 kg/128 lbs. in women’s freestyle

BY GARY ABBOTT, USA WRESTLING

Helen Maroulis of the USA scores a takedown during her semifinal victory over Sophia Mattsson of Sweden at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Olympic champion Helen Maroulis, who won her Rio Games gold down at 53 kg, is expected to wrestle at 58 kg this year, and immediately becomes the big favorite to make the U.S. team at this weight class. Maroulis has won four World-level medals for the USA, including an Olympic gold medal and a World gold medal, plus a silver and a bronze at the World Championships.

Maroulis ran off a tremendous 64-match winning streak, running more than two years, before losing one match this winter competing all the way up at 60 kg. Her ability to score points in bunches, while also having a rock-solid defense, makes her a difficult match regardless of the weight class she enters. As you might expect after her historic effort in Rio, becoming the first USA woman to win Olympic wrestling gold, Maroulis brings great confidence onto the mat with her.

A few heavy hitters who could be at 58 kg are expected at other weight classes. Ali Ragan, who was on the U.S. World Team at 58 kg for three straight years from 2013-15, won a World silver medal at 60 kg in December. With that medal performance, Ragan jumps directly into the World Team Trials finals up at 60 kg.

Kelsey Campbell, who beat Ragan in the finals of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and beat Maroulis in the finals of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, has been competing down at 55 kg this year, where she was the 2017 U.S. Open champion.

The 2017 U.S. Open champion at 58 kg is two-time Junior World medalist Kayla Miracle, who defeated another Junior World medalist, Becka Leathers, in the finals of the Open. Miracle is a three-time WCWA College nationals champion for Campbellsville. She added a University Nationals gold medal at 60 kg in order to tune up for the World Team Trials this year. Leathers is expected to drop to 55 kg in Vegas, but recently won the University Nationals at 58 kg and will remain a threat here if she stays up.

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