Tamyra Mensah-Stock caps historic wrestling worlds for U.S. women

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Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s first world title also marked unprecedented success for the U.S. women’s wrestling team — three gold medals at a single worlds.

Mensah-Stock, a 26-year-old who agonizingly missed the Rio Olympics, finished her march through the 68kg division by beating Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Fransson of Sweden 8-2 in the final.

She took a victory lap around the mat, carrying the American flag. Her tears didn’t stop flowing after coming down, embracing her coaches and striding into the mixed zone.

“I couldn’t control my feelings,” Mensah-Stock said. “It took about, like, 30 minutes, but I finally calmed down.”

She took out Olympic champion Sara Dosho of Japan 10-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday as part of a 36-2 romp through the first four rounds to reach the gold-medal match.

Mensah-Stock followed world titles the last two days from countrywomen Jacarra Winchester (55kg, non-Olympic weight) and Adeline Gray (75kg, her U.S. record fifth world title). A women’s division was added to worlds in 1987, and to the Olympics in 2004, but never before had three U.S. women claimed titles at one global meet.

The U.S. earned more women’s world titles this week than any other nation, toppling power Japan one year before it hosts the Olympics.

Mensah-Stock eyes her first Olympics in 2020, despite winning the 2016 Olympic trials. When Mensah-Stock won trials, the U.S. had not yet qualified that quota spot for Rio. Mensah-Stock had three chances to clinch a U.S. Olympic spot at international tournaments, but lost in the quarterfinals, semifinals and semifinals at events where making the final would have earned her place in Rio.

“It told me that I have the potential to be great, but I still have a lot of work to do,” she said in 2017.

She endured, returning to make the 2017 World quarterfinals and the semifinals in 2018, when she came back for a bronze medal.

“Last year I fell short, and I knew I was capable of more,” she said. Her coaches did, too, repeating what her initials stood for before matches. Too Much Stamina. Too Much Speed.

This year, I proved it,” Mensah-Stock said.

Earlier Friday, four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs gave up the lead with 1.3 seconds left and lost 4-3 in the 74kg semifinals to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov. Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion, will wrestle for bronze on Saturday after falling to the defending world champ Sidakov for a second straight year.

Olympic bronze medalist J’Den Cox gave up zero points en route to Saturday’s 92kg final, where he will look to repeat as world champion.

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Katie Ledecky swims fastest at U.S. Open from B final

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For what must have been the first time in seven years, Katie Ledecky failed to qualify for an A final in one of her primary events on Friday morning. No matter, she swam the fastest 200m freestyle at the U.S. Open from the B final at night.

Ledecky, owner of 20 combined Olympic and world titles, clocked 1:56.24 to win the B final by nearly three seconds in Atlanta. In the very next race, American record holder Allison Schmitt touched first in the A final in 1:56.47.

Full results are here. The final day of the meet airs live on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky has rarely lost domestically in freestyles from 200m through 1500m since she made her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2012.

She kept the streak intact, giving her a sweep of the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in the first three days of the U.S. Open, what could be the deepest domestic meet before the Olympic trials in June.

Internationally, Ledecky faced challengers in the 200m free in this Olympic cycle, unlike the last one. Italian veteran and world-record holder Federica Pellegrini won the last two world titles, with Ledecky missing the event this summer due to her mid-meet illness.

Ledecky ranks seventh in the world in the 200m free this year but likely would have been faster if she was able to race at her best at world champs.

Domestically, Simone Manuel has crept up, clocking 1:56.09 to lead off the 4x200m free relay at worlds to rank second among Americans in 2019. Manuel was the third-fastest American on Friday, recording 1:57.21, her fastest time ever outside of a major summer meet.

In other events Friday, Phoebe Bacon upset world-record holder Regan Smith in the 100m backstroke. Bacon, who like Smith is 17 years old, overtook Smith in the last 25 meters and prevailed by .05 in 58.63. Bacon, while shy of Smith’s world record 57.57, took .39 off her personal best to become the fifth-fastest in the world this year.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King dominated the 100m breaststroke, beating a strong field by .62 of a second in 1:05.65.

Chase Kalisz won a potential Olympic trials preview in the 400m individual medley in 4:13.07. Kalisz, the Rio silver medalist, held off 18-year-old Carson Foster by 1.69 seconds. Ryan Lochte, the 2012 Olympic champion in the event, was fifth, 6.65 seconds behind.

Rio Olympian Townley Haas won the men’s 200m free in 1:45.92, his fastest time since August 2018. Haas, the 2017 World silver medalist, improved to the second-fastest American in the event this year behind Andrew Seliskar.

Torri Huske won the 100m butterfly on the eve of her 17th birthday. Huske clocked 57.48, taking .23 off her personal best to move from sixth fastest to third fastest in the U.S. this year.

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Ester Ledecka stuns again, wins World Cup downhill from bib No. 26

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Consider 26 a lucky number for Ester Ledecka.

Ledecka, the snowboard champion who stunningly captured the PyeongChang Olympic super-G from bib No. 26, won her first World Cup ski race on Friday — also from bib No. 26.

Ledecka was fastest in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta.

She kept Swiss Corinne Suter from her first World Cup win by .35 of a second. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third. Mikaela Shiffrin was 10th in her weakest discipline. Full results are here.

“I am for sure more shocked than everybody here,” Ledecka said. “I was a little bit, not disappointed about the run, but I was not super satisfied. Then I was really surprised about the time.”

Ledecka, an Olympic and world champion in Alpine snowboarding from the Czech Republic, had a previous best Alpine skiing World Cup finish of seventh. The top-ranked racers all go in the top 20 of the start list.

Last season, Ledecka raced more World Cup skiing events than snowboarding events for the first time. She was forced to choose between world championships in skiing and in snowboarding due to schedules and picked the former with a top finish of 15th.

She’s undecided about her upcoming schedule. She could continue on the Alpine skiing tour with a super-G in Switzerland next weekend, or she could fly to Italy for a snowboarding event.

The women race another downhill and a super-G in Lake Louise the next two days. A full TV and live stream schedule for the weekend races is here.

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