Gray makes finals and will go for a fifth World title; Molinari in bronze bout at World Championships

Adeline Gray of the USA celebrates her semifinal win over Aline Rotter Focken of Germany. Photo by Mark Lundy, LutteLens

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Four-time World champion 2016 Olympian Adeline Gray (Denver, Colo./New York AC) seeks to make history on Thursday night at the World Wrestling Championships.

By qualifying for the gold-medal finals at 76 kg/167.5 lbs., Gray has an opportunity to become the first American to be a five-time Senior World champion. She is currently tied with John Smith, Tricia Saunders and Jordan Burroughs with four.

To make the finals, No. 2 seed Gray won a strategic battle against the No. 3 seed and 2014 World champion Aline Rotter Focken of Germany in the semifinals by a 5-2 margin.

Both wrestlers were put on the shot clock and could not score, Focken in the first period and Gray in the second period, to make it a 1-1 tie with Gray holding criteria. Focken attempted a leg attack, which Gray was able to score a counter exposure, then came out on top leading 3-1. Gray hit a nice tilt for two points to make it 5-1, before Focken got a reversal to close it to 5-2. Focken could not turn Gray as time ran out.

Gray will battle two-time World bronze medalist Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki of Japan in the gold-medal finals on Thursday night.

By making the finals, Gray clinched a seventh career Senior World medal. She won World titles in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018, and World bronze medals in 2011 and 2013.

By reaching the semifinals earlier Wednesday, Gray had already qualified the United States for the 2020 Olympics at this weight class. The top six athletes in each Olympic weight class qualify their nation for the Tokyo Games.

Her morning session featured three dominant 10-0 technical falls, powering through Eleni Pjollaj of Italy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Elmira Syzdykova of Kazakhstan and two-time Junior World medalist Hui Tsz Chang of Chinese Taipei in succession.

After a loss in the semifinals, Forrest Molinari (Iowa City, Iowa/Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC) will compete for a bronze medal at 65 kg/143 lbs.

In a match that went down to the final seconds, Molinari was edged by 2018 U23 World bronze medalist Iryna Koliadenko of Ukraine in the semifinals, 6-5.

In the first period, Koliadenko was placed on the shot clock and could not score, giving Molinari a 1-0 lead at the break. Koliadenko forced a step out early in the second period to knot it at 1-1.

Molinari scored the first takedown of the match to take a 3-1 lead, and extended it to 4-1 when Koliadenko was hit with a caution and one point fleeing penalty. Koliadenko scored a takedown to make it 4-3. After a Koliadenko double leg attempt went out of bounds with no score, the Ukraine corner challenged and it was refused, giving Molinari a 5-3 lead. With about 10 seconds left, Koliadenko scored a counter exposure to tie the bout at 5-5, and criteria went to Koliadenko. The USA challenge was denied, making the final score, 6-5.

Molinari lost 4-3 to Koliadenko at the 2019 U23 World Championships last fall.

In her bronze-medal bout, Molinari will face the winner of the repechage match between Bolortuya Khurelkhuu Monoglia and Xiaoqian Wang of China

Coming in as the No. 1 seed, on Wednesday morning, Molinari pinned Thi Vinh Nguyen of Vietnam in 2:41 then shut out two-time World bronze medalist Malin Johanna Mattsson of Sweden, 3-0.

Molinari is competing in her second straight Senior World Championships, after placing fifth in the 2018 Worlds in Budapest, Hungary.

The medal match finals for Group 2 in women’s freestyle will be at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday night, where Gray and Molinari will compete in their medal bouts. Nur-Sultan is 10 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time. All of the action is live on Trackwrestling.

At Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 18

Group 2 finals pairings
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Risako Kawai (Japan) vs. Ningning Rong (China)
59 kg/130 lbs. – Liubov Ocharova (Russia) vs. Linda Morais (Canada)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Iryna Koliadenko (Ukraine) vs. Inna Trazhukova (Russia)
76 kg/167.5 lbs. – Adeline Gray (USA) vs. Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki (Japan)

Group 2 semifinal results

57 kg/125.5 lbs.
Risako Kawai (Japan) dec. Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria), 6-1
Ningning Rong (China) vs. Jowita Maria Wrzesien (Poland), 6-1

59 kg/130 lbs.
Liubov Ocharova (Russia) tech. fall Pooja Dhanda (India), 10-0
Linda Morais (Canada) dec. Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia), 3-1

65 kg/143 lbs.
Iryna Koliadenko (Ukraine) dec. Forrest Molinari (USA), 6-5
Inna Trazhukova (Russia) dec. Elis Manolova (Azerbaijan), 6-4

76 kg/167.5 lbs.
Adeline Gray (USA) vs. Aline Rotter Focken (Germany), 5-2
Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki (Japan) dec. Epp Maee (Estonia), 7-0

U.S. Women’s freestyle Group 2 performances on Wednesday night

65 kg/143 lbs. – Forrest Molinari, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
WIN Thi Vinh Nguyen (Vietnam), pin, 2:41
WIN Malin Johanna Mattsson (Sweden), 3-0
LOSS Iryna Koliadenko (Ukraine), 6-5
Bronze medal bout – Vs. winner of Bolortuya Khurelkhuu (Monoglia) vs. Xiaoqian Wang (China)

76 kg/167.5 lbs. – Adeline Gray, Denver, Colo. (New York AC)
WIN Elani Pjollai (Italy), tech. fall 10-0, 2:00
WIN Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan), tech. fall 10-0, 2:50
WIN Hui Tsz Chang (Chinese Taipei), tech. fall 10-0, 4:58
WIN Aline Rotter Focken (Germany), 5-1
Gold-medal bout – Vs. Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki (Japan)

Other U.S. women’s freestyle Group 2 performances

57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Jenna Burkert, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Lenka Hockova Martinakova (Czechia), 8-0
LOSS Marina Simonyan (Russia), pin 3:38

59 kg/130 lbs. – Alli Ragan, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids/Hawkeye WC)
LOSS Anzehlina Lysak (Ukraine), pin 1:34