Trio of Wrestling Powers Seek to Dethrone Japanese at Women’s World Cup

By Tim Foley

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY (March 5) – The United States, Russia and Mongolia will head into St. Petersburg’s Sports and Concerts Complex on Saturday with their best chance in years to win the Women’s Wrestling World Cup.

Though each nation has won world championships and Olympic medals, over the past several years none have been able to displace women’s wrestling giants Japan, or China at the World Cup -- the former having won seven titles, the latter six.

China did not qualify for the 2015 World Cup having entered many of their best wrestlers at the 2014 Asian Games instead of the world championships, the qualifying event for the World Cup.

The Japanese, who won the 2014 World Cup in Tokyo, have benched megastars Karoi ICHO (58kg) and Saori YOSHIDA (53kg) to help them recover from minor injuries. Three-time world champion and world No.1 Eri TOSAKA (48kg) will also be staying back in Tokyo, leaving the Japanese team with a diminished chance of defending their 2014 title.

The United States, who won their only team title in 2003, has submitted the strongest individual team with 12 ranked wrestlers across the eight competed weight classes. Leading the Americans is defending world champion and top-ranked Adeline GRAY (75kg). The bruising wrestlers will be supported by world No.2s Helen MAROULIS (55kg) and Elena PIROZHKOVA (63kg) who are each coming off impressive tournament titles at the Cerra Pelado in Havana.

The Americans will be in Group A where they will face a Japanese side led by Chiho HAMADA (53kg) who is coming down from her 2014 world championship weight of 55kg to compete at 53kg. The Japanese will also enlist the services No.7 Yu MIYAHARA (48kg), who took third at last month’s Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix and will be filling in for the missing Tosaka.

Azerbaijan and Poland complete Group A and bring plenty of experienced, though not always ranked, talent. The Azerbaijanis will be headed by the one-two punch of No.2. Mariya STADNYK (48kg) and No. 4 Yulia RATKEVICH (60kg). Stadnyk and Ratkevich each won their only world championship in 2009 and earned Olympic medals in 2012.

Iwona MATKOWSKA (48kg) will highlight Poland’s efforts. The fourth-ranked wrestler recently finished runner-up at the Paris Grand Prix in February.

Wrestling in Group B will likely offer the first day’s most impressive matchups with a loaded Mongolian team set to match up against a combative and experienced Russian side. The winner of that meet is likely to meet the United States or Japan in the day two final.

Team Mongolia is commanded by 2014 world champion SUKHEE Tserenchimed (60kg) and 2010 world champion SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (63kg). Back-to-back the pair is one of the most talented and dangerous pairings in the world with a bevvy of falls and technical falls to their names. Supporting their efforts is an ever-improving team that features ranked wrestlers at each of the eight weight classes.

Russia’s Natalia VOROBIEVA (69kg) will hope to anchor a home squad that can compete with Mongolia’s depth and talent. The 2012 Olympic champion and No.3 ranked wrestler in the world will have backing from No.3 Irina OLOGONOVA (55kg) who recently won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix and No. 2 Valeria KOBLOVA (58kg) who finished runner-up in Tashkent.

Should the Russian side earn a mild upset through the middle of the lineup they’ll be poised to make the finals. Should they falter, or the Mongolian side earns more falls en route to a tied match score (4-4), the Russians could be relegated to wrestling for bronze.

World No.2 Sofia MATTSON (53kg) and No.6 Jenna FRANNSON (75kg) will take charge of a Swedish side capable of pulling together at least one upset on Saturday. Though missing big talent in some weights, the Swedes have five ranked wrestlers and three in the top ten.

Ukraine rounds out Group B with defending world champion and dominant No.1 ranked Yulia TKACH (63kg) leading a young squad into St. Petersburg.

Round 1 (Saturday, 10:00)
Group A: Japan v. Poland
Group A: United States v. Azerbaijan
Group B: Russian v, Ukraine
Group B: Mongolia v. Sweden

Round 2 (Saturday, 12:00 )
Group A: Japan v. United States
Group A: Poland v. Azerbaijan
Group B: Mongolia v. Russia
Group B: Ukraine v. Sweden

Round 3 (Saturday, 17:30)
Group A: Japan v. Azerbaijan
Group A: Poland v. United States
Group B: Mongolia v. Ukraine
Group B: Russia v. Sweden

GROUP A (Ranked Wrestlers)

48kg: No.2 Mariya STADNYK (AZE)
58kg: No.11 Irina NETREBA (AZE)
60kg: No.4 Yulia RATKEVICH (AZE)
69kg: No.17 Nadeshda MUSHKA (AZE)

United States of America
48kg: No.8 Victoria ANTHONY (USA)
48kg: No.11 Alyssa LAMPE (USA)
53kg: No.5 Whitney CONDER (USA)
53kg: No.17 Katherine FULP-ALLEN (USA)
55kg: No.2 Helen MAROULIS (USA)
58kg: No.6 Allison RAGAN (USA)
58kg: No.14 Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA)
63kg: No.2 Elena PIROZHKOVA (USA)
63kg: No.18 Erin CLODGO (USA)
69kg: No.14 Randi MILLER (USA)
75kg: No.1 Adeline GRAY (USA)

48kg: No.7 Yu MIYAHARA (JPN)
53kg: No.1 Chiho HAMADA (JPN)
58kg: No.9 Risako KAWAI (JPN)
63kg: No.15 Yurika ITO (JPN)
75kg: No.12 Hiroe SUZUKI (JPN)

48kg: No.4 Iwona MATKOWSKA (POL)
53kg: No.12 Roksana ZASINA (POL)
55kg 13. Katarzyna KRAWCZYK (POL)
63kg: No.14 Monica MICHALIK (POL)
69kg: No.15 Agnieszka WIESZCZEK-KORDUS (POL)

GROUP B (Ranked Wrestlers)

48kg: No.17 ERDENESUKH Narangerel (MGL)
53kg: No.8 SUMIYA Erdennechimeg (MGL)
55kg: No. 7 SUNDEV Byambatseren (MGL)
58kg: No.15 BAATARJAV Shoovdor (MGL))
60kg: No.1 SUKHEE Tserenchimed (MGL)
63kg: No.3 SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL)
69kg: No.7 OCHIRBAT Nasanburmaa (MGL)
75kg: No.9 OCHIRBAT Burmaa (MGL)

55kg: No. 3 Irina OLOGONOVA (RUS)
58kg: No.2 Valeria KOBLOVA (RUS)
60kg: No.8 Svetlana LIPATOVA (RUS)
63kg: No.5 Irina TRAZHUKOVA (RUS)
69kg: No.3 Natalia VOROBIEVA (RUS)
75kg: No.13 Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS)

55kg: No.2 Sofia MATTSSON (SWE)
60kg: No.6 Johanna MATTSSON (SWE)
63kg: No.16 Therese PERSSON (SWE)
69kg: No.12 Henna JOHANSSON (SWE)
75kg: No.6 Jenny FRANSSON (SWE)

58kg: No.16 Anna VASILENKO (UKR)
60kg: No.13 Oksana HERHEL (UKR)
63kg: No.1 Yulia TKACH (UKR)
69kg: No. 20 Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR)

Saturday, March 07
10:00: Session 1
12:00: Session 2
17:00: Opening Ceremony
17:30: Session 3

Sunday, March 08
12:00: 7th Place Finals
13:00: 5th Place Finals
14:00: Bronze Medal Finals
15:00: Gold Medal Finals
16:00: Award Ceremonies