USA WRESTLING 2016 U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM TRIALS PREVIEW FOR 53 KG IN WOMEN’S FREESTYLE 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials preview for 53 kg in women’s freestyle

Original Source:


2015 World champion Helen Maroulis competes at the World Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Competition Day: Sunday, April 10

Is Weight Class Qualified Yet for Olympic Games: No

The 53 kg weight class features a variety of talented athletes, including four past U.S. World Team members, a Senior World champion, a University World champion, a Junior World champion and a Cadet World champion. Of all of the women’s weight classes on display in Iowa City, this one may have the most depth and experience.

Representing the USA at the 2015 World Championships was Whitney Conder of the U.S. Army WCAP, who has been on three U.S. World Teams (2009, 2014, 2015). Conder is the past Junior World Champion, winning that title back in 2007. Among her big wins was a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. A CISM Military World silver medalist in 2014, Conder also boasts three U.S. Open titles.

Conder has had two shots at qualifying the USA for the Olympics, and did not place in the top five at the World Championships or the top two at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier. That means the USA must still go to the World Qualifier in Mongolia in late April (and if necessary in Turkey in May) to get the weight class qualified.

Moving down to compete here is 2015 World champion Helen Maroulis of the Sunkist Kids, who won her gold medal up at 55 kg, a non-Olympic weight class. Maroulis boasts three World medals in her career, a 2012 silver medal and a 2014 bronze medal to go with last year’s gold medal. She also won four WCWA women’s college national titles for Simon Fraser.

Maroulis defeated Conder in a Special Wrestle-off in January for the spot on the U.S. team for the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier, but did not compete, and Conder was the U.S. entry. Maroulis has been very successful since winning a bronze at the 2014 Worlds, winning 11 gold medals, including international events held in Russia, France, Cuba, Mongolia, Spain and Azerbaijan.

The other two past U.S. World Team members in the field are Jessica Medina of the Sunkist Kids and Deanna Betterman of the Sunkist Kids. Medina competed in the 2010 and 2011 World Championships at 51 kg. Betterman was fifth in both the 2008 and 2009 World Championships, competing up at 59 kg. Both bring extensive experience and talent to this weight class.

The 2016 U.S. Open champion was Michaela Hutchison of the Titan Mercury WC, who placed second behind Conder at the 2015 World Team Trials. Hutchison was a three-time WCWA Nationals champion for Oklahoma City, and is a current assistant coach for the women’s team at McKendree Univ. She has been expanding her international experience the last two seasons.

The past Cadet World champion is Haley Augello, who won the title as an Illinois high school star back in 2011. Augello won the WCWA Nationals for King Univ. last year and is on an Olympic redshirt. She was second in the U.S. Open at 53 kg behind Hutchison in December, but is reportedly dropping to 48 kg for Trials.

The past University World champion is Katherine Fulp-Allen, who won that important title back in 2008. Fulp-Allen was third in the 2012 Olympic Trials, and has been on the Women’s National Team four times. She missed most of the 2015 season with injury, but has competed four times since December, including a gold medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial in February.

Sarah Hildebrandt of the New York AC is a serious contender at this weight class. She was a two-time WCWA national champion and four-time finalist for King Univ. before coming out to the Olympic Training Center. Hildebrandt dropped from 55 kg to 53 kg this season, taking third at the U.S. Open and winning silver medals at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden.

This weight features a two-time U.S. Open champion in Sharon Jacobson of the U.S. Army WCAP, who won her first Open title in 2006 and her second in 2015. Jacobson stopped wrestling after the 2012 Olympic Trials and was competing in MMA, but came back to win the 2015 Open and place second in the World Team Trials.

Another top wrestler to watch is Carlene Sluberski, a 2011 Junior World Team member who was a college star for Brock Univ. in Canada. Among Sluberski’s highlights was a silver medal at the 2015 U.S. Open and a strong third-place finish at the 2015 World Team Trials.

Three athletes joined the field through the WCWA Women’s College Nationals in February, including the WCWA champion at 116 pounds, Samantha Klingel of King Univ. Also earning spots in the field were Cady Chessin of Menlo College, third at 116 and Shelby Morrison of Oklahoma City, fourth at 116. We may see some other college women qualify through the University Nationals this weekend. The last chance to qualify comes the first weekend of April in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Can Helen Maroulis dominate at 53 kg the same way she has at 55 kg the last few years? Can Whitney Conder defend her spot at the top of this weight class? How will it all sort out with the strong depth in this field? You can bet 53 kg will be a weight worth watching in Iowa City.


Women’s Freestyle – 53 kg/116.5 lbs.
’15 World Team member – Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
’15 World Team member – Helen Maroulis, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
Past World or Olympic Team member – Jessica Medina, Champaign, Ill. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Grand Prix of Spain silver medalist – Carlene Sluberski, Fredonia, N.Y. (New York AC)
’15 Bill Farrell International silver medalist – Michaela Hutchison, Lebanon, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Haley Augello, Lockport, Ill. (NYAC/OTC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Sarah Hildebrandt, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC/OTC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Deanna Betterman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Sharon Jacobson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Katherine Fulp-Allen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC/OTC)
WCWA Nationals gold medalist at 116 – Samantha Klingel, Kregesville, Pa. (King)
WCWA Nationals bronze medalist at 116 – Cady Chessin, Los Gatos, Calif. (Menlo College)
WCWA Nationals fourth place at 116 – Shelby Morrison, Amarillo, Texas (Oklahoma City)
International tour medalist within one year –
’16 University Nationals champion –
’16 University Nationals runner-up –
’16 Final Olympic Trials Qualifier champion –

Over the next 18 days, leading into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa, April 9-10, will post one weight class preview each day. There are six weight classes in each style at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and the previews will start with the lightest weight classes and go through the heaviest.


About the Author

Jeremy Deschner
Black Belt in American Karate from the Texas Karate Institute. Now training in Brazilian Jiujitsu in Japan. Twitter: @mmajpn1 @jiujitsu_Jedi

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)