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Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Snyder lead U.S. wrestling team for world champs

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Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder headline the U.S. team for the world wrestling championships in Kazakhstan in September. The team was mostly decided at qualifying events the last two weekends.

Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, suffered a rare loss to a countryman in his best-of-three series against Isaiah Martinez but finished him off 7-1 in the rubber match in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday. Burroughs made a ninth straight Olympic or world team.

Snyder, a 2016 Olympic champion and two-time world champion, swept Kyven Gadson in his series.

The U.S.’ other active Olympic champion, Helen Maroulis, sat out spring competition as she works her way back from shoulder surgery. She will not be at worlds, making four-time world champion Adeline Gray the headliner of the women’s freestyle team.

Three 2018 World champions in men’s freestyle found themselves in different positions. David Taylor will not defend his 86kg title due to knee surgery. Kyle Dake, the 79kg champ, has delayed his match with Alex Dieringer for the last spot on the world team due to injury. J’den Cox, the 92kg gold medalist (and an Olympic bronze medalist), swept Bo Nickal to make the world team.

The full roster:

Men’s Freestyle
57kg: Daton Fix
61kg: Tyler Graff
65kg: Zain Retherford
70kg: James Green
74kg: Jordan Burroughs
79kg: Kyle Dake or Alex Dieringer
86kg: Pat Downey
92kg: J’den Cox
97kg: Kyle Snyder
125kg: Nick Gwiazdowski

Men’s Greco-Roman
55kg: Max Nowry
60kg: Ildar Hafizov
63kg: Ryan Mango
67kg: Ellis Coleman
72kg: Raymond Bunker
77kg: Pat Smith
82kg: John Stefanowicz
87kg: Joe Rau
97kg: G’Angelo Hancock
130kg: Adam Coon

Women’s Freestyle
50kg: Whitney Conder
53kg: Sarah Hildebrandt
55kg: Jacarra Winchester
57kg: Jenna Burkert
59kg: Alli Ragan
62kg: Kayla Miracle
65kg: Forrest Molinari
68kg: Tamyra Mensah-Stock
72kg: Victoria Francis
76kg: Adeline Gray

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MORE: Helen Maroulis on why she missed world team trials

Adeline Gray ties U.S. female record with fourth wrestling world title

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In a mix of exhalation and exultation, Adeline Gray danced holding the American flag behind her back and let out two words: It’s over.

Gray won her fourth wrestling world title in Budapest on Wednesday, tying the retired Tricia Saunders for the U.S. female record.

She defeated Olympic gold and bronze medalists en route to the 76kg heavyweight final against defending world champion Yasemin Adar of Turkey. Gray grabbed Adar’s ankle, scored a takedown and turned her five times to win 13-1.

“I couldn’t walk four weeks ago,” Gray said minutes later. “This training camp has been trash. I’ve been sick this entire week. I weigh 73 kilos right now, and I’m the heavyweight champ of the world. There has been many things that didn’t go right.”

Gray left out what happened 26 months ago. The Coloradoan arrived at the Rio Olympics on a two-year win streak but was upset in the quarterfinals, missing a chance to become the first female U.S. Olympic wrestling champion.

She revealed six months later that she wrestled in Brazil with a shoulder injury. She underwent surgeries on that shoulder and to repair a torn meniscus in her knee in January 2017 and went 11 months between matches.

Gray, 27, married U.S. Army Capt. Damaris Sanders. She lived outside of a dorm for the first time in her adult life. She said she lost her national team funding, learned how to cook for herself and even thought about having a baby after the Rio disappointment.

“I wasn’t ready to step back on the mat right away,” she said after earning a spot on the world team in June. “They [loved ones] were there with gentle nudges. … I still think I have a gift that can be developed on the wrestling mat.”

A goal this season was to “be on some posters throwing people.”

On Tuesday night, Helen Maroulis, who did win gold in Rio, texted Gray to tell her that she could be world champion. Before she wrestled Wednesday, Gray’s longtime coach, Terry Steiner, looked her in the eye and told her she could win.

“I’ve told her for a long time that she’s the strongest woman I know,” Steiner said. “She has more belief in herself than anyone I know.”

Also Wednesday, American Tamyra Mensah-Stock earned her first world medal, a 68kg bronze. Mensah-Stock won the 2016 Olympic Trials but then failed to qualify a U.S. quota spot for the Games.

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Helen Maroulis’ world championships streak ends after life-altering year

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Helen Maroulis woke Wednesday and felt the best she had in a long time. That was a victory.

Maroulis, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic female wrestling champion during a run as one of the planet’s dominant athletes, was pinned this morning in her 57kg first-round match at the world championships in Budapest.

Maroulis gave up a point at worlds for the first time since 2014. She won her previous 10 matches by a combined 97-0, bagging two world titles while going 78-1 overall among three different weights in three years. No other U.S. wrestler had gone unscored on at an Olympics or worlds the previous 30 years. Maroulis did it in 2015 and 2017.

Then, on Wednesday morning in the Hungarian capital, Azerbaijan’s Alyona Kolesnik forced Maroulis onto her back, ending the match in the second of two three-minute periods.

Maroulis was reflective in the media mixed zone. She alluded to her brain injury. Maroulis suffered a concussion at a tournament in India in January. She came back in May, then delayed her world championships qualifying series from June 23 to Oct. 6.

Maroulis took 20 seconds Wednesday to wipe away tears after being asked if she had considered retirement.

“I feel really responsible to do the right thing for my health, not just for myself but to set an example because I get a lot of messages from kids on Instagram — I have a concussion, or my teammate has a concussion.” she said. “There’s this wrestler mindset to just push through — you’re the toughest, find a way to win. But there’s just a lot more to it. I want a long life. I really believe I’m doing everything in my power to get healthy. I also believe that if it ever came down to have to make that decision that I will do the right thing.”

Maroulis didn’t know if she would wrestle again while bedridden for “a lot of time” earlier this year. She is keeping the details of the last several months private. She returned to live practice about 10 days before her rescheduled qualifying series to make the world team Oct. 6.

“I remember walking around every day, just thinking I’m so broken in every way, shape and form,” Maroulis told media three weeks ago. “The one thing that my parents and loved ones kept reminding me is you’ll come out stronger for this. It was a hard, ugly, messy, tough process, but I definitely did. I’m really grateful that I get to wrestle.”

Maroulis froze in Wednesday’s match when Kolesnik smacked her in the head repeatedly.

“I’m so used to telling someone, hey, don’t touch my head,” she said. “I don’t think my head’s injured. I don’t think I injured my head during that match.”

Maroulis met her two primary goals for the year — healing from the brain injury and returning to make a ninth Olympic or world championships team. The third was to three-peat as world champion. She would have tied Tricia Saunders‘ American female record for most combined Olympic and world titles.

“I maybe should have waited a year to come back,” she said. “I’m really tying to consult, get the best wisdom and advice and knowledge from people and then with that make the best decision. … I really believe that I can come back. If not, then I believe that I’ll walk away with my head held high.”

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