Winchester reaches 55 kg finals at World Championships; Francis to go for bronze, Hildebrandt pulled into repechage

ra Winchester of the USA celebrates after her 55 kg semifinal win over Bediha Gun of Turkey. Photo by Larry Slater.

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Jacarra Winchester (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC/OTC) won her semifinal bout at 55 kg/121 lbs. on Tuesday night, and has qualified for the gold-medal finals in women’s freestyle at the World Championships.

Winchester wrestled with confidence and skill on the way to a 6-4 victory over 2016 University World champion Bediha Gun of Turkey in the semifinals.

Both wrestlers scored first-period takedowns, going to the break at 2-2. Winchester scored a takedown going out of bounds to lead 4-2. Gun cut the lead to 4-3 with a step out point. Winchester scored a clutch takedown off a counter with 39 seconds left to extend her lead to 6-3. A late caution and one point penalty against Winchester was not enough for Gun to come back as time ran out.

Winchester will face 2012 Cadet World champion and 2015 Junior World champion Nanami Irie of Japan in the gold-medal finals.

Winchester, who was a No. 3 seed here, was fifth at the 2018 World Championships, her only previous World appearance.

In the morning session, Winchester scored a pair of dominant technical falls, beating 2013 World University bronze medalist Madina Nadirova of Kyrgyzstan, 10-0 and Bolortuya Bat Ochir of Mongolia, 13-2.

Two U.S. women were pulled back into repechage after the athlete who beat them on Tuesday morning was able to win in the semifinals: 2018 World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC/OPTC) at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. and Victoria Francis (Litchfield, Ill./Titan Mercury WC) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

In the quarterfinals, Francis fell to 2013 World champion Alina Berezhna Stadnik Makhynia of Ukraine, 4-0. Makhinya wrestled a smart semifinal match, winning the key exchanges, to defeat 2018 U23 World champion Paliha of China, 7-0, getting Francis back into repechage.

Francis has been drawn into a bronze medal match against Paliha on Wednesday night. Makhinya, a No. 2 seed, only wrestled two matches on the day.

Hildebrandt will have one repechage match on Wednesday morning. She will face the winner of an earlier repechage match between 2018 Asian Games champion Vinesh of India and Yuliia Khavaldzhy Blahinya of Ukraine.

Hildebrandt was defeated in the quarterfinals by two-time World champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan, in a 12-1 technical fall. Mukaida won a tight 4-0 decision over two-time World medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece in the semifinals to pull Hildebrandt back into repechage. Hildebrandt is competing in her third Senior World Championships.

If Hildebrandt wins her repechage match, she will not only qualify for the bronze-medal match against Prevolaraki, but she will also qualify the USA to compete at 53 kg at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The top six at each Olympic weight class earns an Olympic qualification for their country.

Whitney Conder (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) was eliminated at 50 kg/110 lbs. She dropped a 6-0 decision to Son-Hyang Kim of North Korea, who was defeated in her next match, making Conder not eligible for repechage.

The Wednesday morning session, which includes Hildebrandt’s repechage match as well as four new weight classes, will begin at 11:00 a.m. The medal-match round, which will include both Winchester and Francis (and perhaps Hildebrandt), will be at 6:00 p.m. Nur-Sultan is 10 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time. All of the action is live on Trackwrestling.

At Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 17

Women’s freestyle finals pairings
50 kg/110 lbs. – Emilia Vuc (Romania) vs. Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan)
53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Mayu Mukaida (Japan) vs. Yong Mi Pak (North Korea)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Jacarra Winchester (USA) vs. Nanami Irie (Japan)
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Natalia Vorobeva (Russia) vs. Alina Berezhna Stadnik Makhynia (Ukraine)

Women’s freestyle semifinal results

50 kg/110 lbs.
Emilia Vuc (Romania) dec. Valentina Islamova Brik (Kazakhstan), 4-4
Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan) dec. Yanan Sun (China), 6-4

53 kg/116.5 lbs.
Mayu Mukaida (Japan) dec. Maria Prevolaraki (Greece), 4-0
Yong Mi Pak (North Korea) tech. fall Quinyu Pang (China), 12-2

55 kg/121 lbs.
Jacarra Winchester (USA) dec. Bediha Gun (Turkey), 6-4
Nanami Irie (Japan) tech. fall Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan), 10-0

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Natalia Vorobeva (Russia) tech. fall Zhamila Bakbergenova (Kazakhstan), 13-0
Alina Berezhna Stadnik Makhynia (Ukraine) dec. Paliha (China), 7-0

U.S. women’s freestyle performances on Tuesday

50 kg/110 lbs. – Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
LOSS Son-Hyang Kim (North Korea), 6-0

53 kg/116.5 lbs. – Sarah Hildebrandt, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Thi Dao Bui (Vietnam), tech. fall, 10-0, 1:14
LOSS Mayu Mukaida (Japan), 12-1, 4:50
Repechage – Vs. winner of Vinesh (India) vs. Yuliia Khavaldzhy Blahinya (Ukraine)

55 kg/121 lbs. – Jacarra Winchester, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC/OTC)
WIN Madina Nadirova (Kyrgyzstan), tech. fall 10-0, 1:05
WIN Bolortuya Bat Ochir (Mongolia), tech. fall, 13-2, 3:40
Semifinals – Vs. Bediha Gun (Turkey)

72 kg/158.5 lbs.- Victoria Francis, Litchfield, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC)
WIN Dejah Slater (Canada), pin 2:30
LOSS Alina Berezhna Stadnik Makhynia (Ukraine), 4-0
Bronze medal bout – Vs. Paliha (China)