Schedule Announced for Women's Wrestling World Cup

By Eric Olanowski

NARITA, Japan (October 23) -- United World Wrestling has announced the schedule for the 18th Annual Women's Wrestling World Cup, which will take place at the Nakadai Sports & Recreation Park Gymnasium in Narita, Japan, from November 16-17. 

United World Wrestling extended invitations to the top-eight teams from the Nur-Sultan World Championships to attend the 2019 Women's Wrestling World Cup, but this year's dual meet showcase will only feature six teams after No. 6 Kazakhstan and No. 8 Azerbaijan withdrew from the competition. 

Earlier this year, the UWW executive board determined that all World Cup competitions should follow the same competition format for placement of teams in their respective pools, or groups. With the new system, the No. 1 team will be paired with the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 8, and the No. 2 team will be paired with the No. 3, No. 6, and No. 7 teams from the World Championships.

Yukako KAWAI (JPN) will join her sister, Risako, on Japan's Women's World Cup roster. The Nur-Sultan bronze medalist will compete at 62kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Japan, the four-time defending World Cup champions, headlines a loaded Group A that'll also feature China and Ukraine. 

Sisters Risako and Yukako KAWAI will lead a 20-wrestler Japanese squad chasing its fifth consecutive Women's Wrestling World Cup team title. Arguably the best pound-for-pound women's wrestler in the world, Risako Kawai, has won four consecutive world titles dating back to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Yukako is a 2018 world runner-up and finished the 2019 World Championships with a bronze medal. Both sisters have qualified their weight for the 2020 Olympic Games and are expected to be Japan’s representative in their respective categories.

Former world champions Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Haruna OKUNO (JPN) headline the host country’s entries at 50kg and 53kg respectively. Susaki steps in for Yuki IRIE who failed to qualify 50kg -- the only women’s weight Japan has yet to qualify for Tokyo 2020. 

Ningning RONG (CHN) could meet her world finals opponent Risako KAWAI (JPN) on Satruday night when Japan and China square off.(Photo: Gabor Martin)

China will also bring a healthy squad of world medalists to Narita, with six medalists representing the fourth-place finishers from Nur-Sultan. The team will be led by 2018 world champion Ningning RONG (CHN) who fell to Risako Kawai, 9-6, at this year’s world championships. With Kawai and Rong both entered at 57kg at the World Cup, there could be a colossal world finals rematch on Saturday night when Japan takes on China. 

Sun, a 2014 world gold medalist, is the second senior world champion entered on China's team. She’s finished in third place at the Rio Olympic Games and the 2018 World Championships since her world title run back in 2014. 

Depending on who Japan sends out at 50kg, Sun could have a shot at taking on one of her biggest rivals if the host nation decides to roll out Yui Susaki. Sun has dropped the pairs last two matches. She fell to Susaki for the first time at the 2017 Asian Championships, then again at the 2017 Women’s Wrestling World Cup. 

A Ukrainan squad that’s in search of their first World Cup team title rounds out Group A. 

Reigning world champion Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) headlines Russia's ten-woman roster. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

The Russian Federation, who finished in second place at the 2019 World Championships, is the hallmark team in Group B. Russia will be coupled with USA and Mongolia, who finished in third and seventh, respectively. 

Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) tops a Russian team that’s set to feature four podium-finishers from Nur-Sultan. Trazhukova will be accompanied by world runner-up Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) and the pair of bronze-medal finishers, Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS) and Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS). 

Ovcharova will compete at 59kg, while Poleshchuk and Khoroshavtseva are entered at their world-medal winning weights of 50kg and 55kg, respectively. 

Adeline GRAY (USA) is one of three world champions that'll compete on USA's squad. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

The United States has entered a star-studded ten-woman roster into the World Cup, with three of those ten wrestlers coming off title-winning performances in Nur-Sultan. Adeline GRAY (USA), Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) and Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) are the trio of world champions that the USA will lean on to try to win their second World Cup team title and first since 2003. 

Although Gray is looked at as a titan in women’s wrestling, she’ll certainly have her hands full in getting the USA back to title-winning glory. The newly-crowned five-time world champion’s biggest group stage test will come against Rio Olympic bronze medalist Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) when the Stars and Stripes goes toe-to-toe with the Russian Federation on Saturday afternoon.

The Women's World Cup will be Jacarra WINCHESTER'S (USA) first competition since winning her first world title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Reigning 55kg world champ Winchester will have a tough road in staying unbeaten in her pair of Group B matches. She'll square off against a world bronze medalist in each of her two matches. Winchester’s first challenge will come against Russia's Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA. The American will then wrestle her Nur-Sultan semifinals opponent, BAT OCHIR Bolortuya (MGL), who she beat 13-2 to insert herself into the world finals when the Americans wrestle the Mongolians on Saturday night. 

Mensah-Stock is the third American world champion that'll compete at the Women's Wrestling World Cup. Like Winchester, Mensah-Stock’s toughest test at 68kg in group play is likely to also come when the United States wrestles Mongolia on Saturday night. 

Mensah-Stock will either wrestle OCHIRBAT Nasanburmaa (MGL) or ENKHSAIKHAN Delgermaa (MGL). Ochirbat is a four-time senior-level world medalist, while Enkhsaikan was a junior world silver medalist last year. 

Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) and Allison RAGAN (USA) are also listed on USA's roster. Both wrestlers have world finals experience under their belt, but each fell short of their gold-medal goal in those matches. Hildebrandt (53kg) finished in second place at the 2018 World Championships, while Ragan (59kg) dropped her 2017 world finals match. 

BAT OCHIR Bolortuya (MGL) is one of two world bronze medalists entered on Mongolia's Womens World Cup team. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Mongolia, the seventh-place finishers in Nur-Sultan, round out the three teams in Group B. 

Mongolia will follow the lead of 2019 world bronze medalists BAT OCHIR Bolortuya (MGL) and BAATARJAV Shoovdor (MGL). Bat Ochir and Baatarjav are registered at 55kg and 59kg, respectively.

Wrestling at the 2019 Women’s Wrestling World Cup begins on November 16 and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org

The groups for the 2019 Women's Wrestling World Cup:
Group A - No. 1 JPN, No. 4 CHN, No. 5 UKR 
Group B - No. 2 RUS, No. 3 USA, No. 7 MGL

Saturday (November 16) 
10:30 – Mat A: JPN vs. UKR / Mat B: RUS vs. MGL 
12: 00 – Mat A: RUS vs. USA / Mat B: CHN vs. UKR 
16:30 – Opening Ceremony 
17:00 – Mat A: JPN vs. CHN / Mat B: USA vs. MGL

Sunday (November 17) 
8:00 – Medical Examination & Weigh-in
10:30 – Finals 5/6
13:00 – Finals 3/4
14:30 – Finals 1/2
16:00 – Award Ceremonies


Host Japan Rides Close Early Wins to Top China, Gain Place in Final Against U.S.

By Ken Marantz

NARITA, Japan (Nov. 16)---The two former world champions got the ball rolling with knife-edge victories, starting a run of six straight that propelled host Japan over rival China and into the final of the Women’s World Cup. 

Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Haruna OKUNO (JPN), who had to settle for age-group titles this year after failing to make Japan’s team to the senior World Championships, came through in tight matches as Japan defeated China 6-4 in the final session to win its three-team group.

In the championship match on Sunday at Nakadai Sports Park Gym in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan will aim for a fifth straight title and 11th overall when it faces the United States, who will get a shot at adding to the lone crown it won back in 2003.

China and Mongolia will clash for the bronze medal, while Russia and Ukraine will face off in the fifth-place playoff. 

The United States, which handily beat Russia 8-2 in the early session, clinched the other group by topping Mongolia by the same 6-4 score, getting victories by fall from two of its three reigning world champions, while overcoming a loss by fall from the other. 

Japan showed its vulnerability in the upper weights when it lost the final four matches to China, although it is difficult to say if the outcome of any of those matches would have different had victory been on the line.

But in retrospect, it made Susaki’s 3-2 victory over Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist SUN Yanan (CHN) at 50kg and Okuno’s last-second 4-3 win over PANG Qiangyu (CHN) all the more vital. 

Susaki is still feeling the pangs of the missing out on a chance for a third straight senior world title after losing a playoff for the Japan team spot to Yuki IRIE (JPN)---which at the time, she believed, as did most, ended her chances to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

But when Irie failed to finish in the top six at the Nur-Sultan World Championships, it reopened the door for Susaki, who will get a second chance by triumphing at the All-Japan Championships in December.

“I was really down, and it was the first time I felt I was at rock bottom,” said Susaki, who won a second straight world junior gold in August in Tallinn. “But it was not over yet, and as long as there was still a 0.01 percent chance, I would believe in the possibility, and I kept working hard with the encouragement of others.”

Yui SUSAKI (JPN) works on finishing a shot against world champ and Rio Olympic bronze medalist, SUN Yanan (CHN). Susaki won the match, 3-2. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Susaki last faced Sun in 2017, when she beat her twice. And while their match was ostensibly one of 10 in a team event, it seemed there was more at stake, that this would reaffirm where Susaki stood against the world’s best. 

“I’ve long wanted to face Sun, and beating her gives me confidence and momentum,” Susaki said.

Against the lankier Sun, Susaki found it difficult to finish off her takedowns, and trailed 2-1 after the Chinese scored on a counter crotch lift. Early in the second period, Susaki finally broke through the defenses for a takedown and a 3-2 lead. 

“I found many points that I need to work on,” Susaki said. “Like finishing off my tackles, adding variation and creating more openings for attacks, and coming up with more moves that I can rely on. I want to fix this going into the All-Japan Championships.” 

With a half-minute to go, Sun seemed on the way to scoring with a single-leg takedown, but the effort went in vain when the action was stopped because a hold on Susaki’s leg was in a dangerous position.

“I’m really puzzled,” Sun said. “I did not do any illegal action on purpose. I just continued the action and the referee stopped it. It’s a pity.”

Okuno, who added this year’s world junior and U-23 titles in lieu of getting a shot at third career senior gold, cut it as close as possible in beating Pang, a bronze medalist in Nur-Sultan.

Pang held a 3-2 lead in the final seconds when Okuno went on the attack and got behind in the standing position. Just as the clock was about to tick zero, Okuno forced Pang to the mat for the winning points.

Three-time world champion Risako KAWAI (JPN) picked up a 6-0 win over FENG Yongxin (CHN) in Japan's win over China. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Japan followed with a pair of 6-0 victories from Akie HANAI (JPN) at 55kg and three-time world champion Risako KAWAI (JPN) at 57kg.

“Looking at it as individual match, part of me felt I was a bit too tight,” Kawai said of her win over FENG Yongxin (CHN) in which she scored four of her points in the second period. 

“But the World Cup is a team event and the most important thing is to win and not lose the momentum for the next match, so that was good.”  

The hosts then got another big win when stocky high schooler and world junior champion Yuzuka INAGAKI (JPN) held world 57kg silver medalist RONG Ningning (CHN) at bay, winning their 59kg bout 2-0, with both points coming with the Chinese on the activity clock.

World silver medalist Yukako KAWAI (JPN) ended the suspense when she scored a victory by fall at 62kg over KANG Juan (CHN) to give Japan an unassailable 6-0 lead. 

The Chinese finished up with consolation victories from WU Yaru (CHN) at 65kg, ZHOU Feng (CHN) at 68kg, WANG Juan (CHN) at 72kg and ZHOU Qian (CHN) at 76kg. The latter’s win was a one-sided 7-0 affair over world silver medalist Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN) that avenged a loss in the quarterfinals at Nur-Sultan.

America's five-time world champion Adeline GRAY (USA) scored a pair of wins on the opening day of wrestling at the Women's World Cup, including an 11-6 victory over Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS). (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the other group, Adeline GRAY (USA), who captured a national-record fifth world gold in Nur-Sultan, only to needed to avoid losing by a technical fall in the final bout at 76kg to clinch the victory over Mongolia.

She did that and more, scoring a victory by fall in 2:40 over Ariunjargal GANBAT (MGL). Gray had built up a 10-0 lead and could have settled for a technical fall herself, but she had an underlying reason for going for the pin.

“We actually lost to Mongolia a few years ago in the same position; I won the match by a couple of points, [but] I needed the pin,” Gray said. “This was more of a revenge, that I wanted that pin from last time. I’m happy we got it.”

Whitney CONDOR (USA) at 50kg and 2018 world silver medalist Sarah HIDEBRANDT (USA) at 53kg staked the U.S. to a 2-0 lead, but Mongolia came back with three straight wins, starting with Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) decking newly crowned world champion Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) at 55kg.

BAT OCHIR Bolortuya (MGL) scored a fall over reigning world champion Jacarra Gwenisha WINCHESTER (USA). (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Bat Ochir, who lost to Winchester in the quarterfinals at Nur-Sultan before battling back for a bronze medal, gave up an early takedown before scoring two stepouts to make it 2-2 going into the second period.

Winchester scored another takedown with a trip off a single-leg, and looked on the way to another when she lost her balance while on the attack. Bat Ochir pounced on the miscue, catching the American in a headlock and securing the fall in 4:18.

Macey KILTY (USA) ended Mongolia’s win streak with a victory at 62kg, and Forrest MOLINARI (USA) followed suit at 65kg. World champion Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) showed her dominance at 68kg with a victory by fall after building up a 10-0 lead.

When Davaanasan ENKH AMAR (MGL) defeated Victoria FRANCIS (USA) 13-7 at 72kg to cut the Americans’ lead to 5-4, that placed the outcome on the final bout at 76kg, where Gray lived up to her billing.  

“I’m really proud of my team, they stepped up in the middle there,” Gray said. “We had a few athletes who just got done with some World Championships, coming off they were supposed to be on vacation, and we had some injuries last minute. 

“For those athletes to step up and win matches, that turned the door right there, that made it possible for Tamyra and I to come out and get our jobs done. It takes a team for us to really be able to compete in this event. And it’s fun to do it when the pressure’s off a little bit.”

Looking ahead to the clash with Japan in the final, Gray said that while the Americans match up well in the upper weights, the team is going to need some mighty efforts early on to have a chance.

“I think especially in the upper weight classes, we’re going to do really well,” she said. “It’s just going to be those key matches early on.

“They have so much depth, and medals, just real talent down at those lower weight classes. But we’ve got that depth, too. We’ve got talent. It’s just going to be about bringing that heart at the right moment and winning those key points, and I think we can do that.

“But Japan is the best, and has been the best. I think it’s a good thing to let them know that we’re coming. Winning this World Cup would be definitely a great thing headed into Tokyo 2020. 

BAT OCHIR Bolortuya (MGL) helped Mongolia earn the 6-4 win over Russia after defeating fellow world bronze medalist Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS), 4-4. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the early sessions, Mongolia’s Bat Ochir came out on top in the Battle of World Bronze Medalists over Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS), providing the key victory in Mongolia’s well-earned 6-4 win over Russia. 

“It was a match between bronze medalists, and I planned all my tactics and concentrated on this match,” Bat Ochir said. “I watched her videos last night and talked to my coach about strategy.” 

Bat Ochir trailed Khoroshavtseva 4-2 late in the match when she tried to come out through the back door, but the Russian fought to avoid conceding control. 

As the final seconds ticked down, Bat Ochir freed a trapped leg and locked up a cradle at the buzzer, which by itself gave her a 2-point takedown, although it took a challenge to receive the points that gave her the 4-4 victory on last-point criteria.

“When I got the hold with the head and leg, then I thought I got the points,” Bat Ochir said, adding she was surprised by the non-call and “worried” when it went to the challenge. 

That victory proved crucial, as Russia would have prevailed on classification points had the team score ended up 5-5.  

The young Ukraine squad, overwhelmed 9-1 by the two Asian giants China and Japan, had one bright spot in Alla BELINSKA (UKR), who gave the European nation its only win in both matches. 

She scored a victory by fall over world U-23 bronze medalist Mei SHINDO (JPN), then topped WANG Juan (CHN) by slamming her down for 4 points in the final seconds for a 9-6 win. 

Day 1 Results

1st Session

50kg: Kika KAGATA (JPN) df. Mariia VYNNYK (UKR), 2-1
53kg: Ibuki TAMURA (JPN) df. Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR), 14-5
55kg: Saki IGARASHI (JPN) df. Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO (UKR) by TF, 13-3, 3:35
57kg: Sae NANJO (JPN) df. Olena KREMZER (UKR) by TF, 10-0, 2:55
59kg: Yumeka TANABE (JPN) df. Sofiia BODNAR (UKR) by TF, 10-0, 4:25
62kg: Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) df. Tetiana RIZHKO (UKR) by Fall, 5:46 (10-2)
65kg: Naomi RUIKE (JPN) df. Oksana CHUDYK (UKR), 5-2
68kg: Naruha MATUYUKI (JPN) df. Alina RUDNYSTSKA LEVYTSKA (UKR), 6-0
72kg: Alla BELINSKA (UKR) df. Mei SHINDO (JPN) by Fall, 1:50 (6-1) 
76kg: Yasuha MATSUYUKI (JPN) df. Romana VOVCHAK (UKR) by TF, 10-0, 2:40

50kg: Chimgee BUYANDALAI (MGL) df. Daria LEKSINA (RUS) by Fall, 4:41 (10-2) 
53kg: Milana DADASHEVA (RUS) df. Anudari NANDINTSETSEG (MGL), 10-1
55kg: Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) df. Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS), 4-4
57kg: Battsetseg ALTANTSETSEG (MGL) df. Marina SIMONYAN (RUS), 12-5
59kg: Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Shoovdor BAATARJAV (MGL) by TF, 14-1, 6:00
62kg: Gantuya ENKHBAT (MGL) df. Uliana TUKURENOVA (RUS), 8-2
65kg: Natalia FEDOSEEVA (RUS) df. Purevsuren ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL), 7-3
68kg: Delgermaa ENKHSAIKHAN (MGL) df. Anastasiia BRATCHIKOVA (RUS), 5-0 
72kg: Davaanasan ENKH AMAR (MGL) df. Evgeniia ZAKHARCHENKO (RUS), 2-1
76kg: Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) df. Ariunjargal GANBAT (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 2:59

2nd Session

50kg: SUN Yanan (CHN) df. Mariia VYNNYK (UKR) by Fall, 1:57 (8-0)
53kg: LUO Lannuan (CHN) df. Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR), 8-0
55kg: XIE Mengyu (CHN) df. Anastasiya KRAVCHENKO (UKR) by TF, 15-4, 3:02 
57kg: FENG Yongxin (CHN) df. Olena KREMZER (UKR), 6-4
59kg: RONG Ningning (CHN) df. Sofiia BODNAR (UKR) by TF, 13-0, 3:38
62kg: KANG Juan (CHN) df. Tetiana RIZHKO (UKR) by DEF. 
65kg: WU Yaru (CHN) df. Oksana CHUDYK (UKR) by TF, 10-0, 2:10
68kg: ZHOU Feng (CHN) df. Alina RUDNYSTSKA LEVYTSKA (UKR) by Fall, :51 (8-0)
72kg: Alla BELINSKA (UKR) df. WANG Juan (CHN), 9-6
76kg: ZHOU Qian (CHN) df. Romana VOVCHAK (UKR) by Fall, 1:09 (4-0) 

50kg: Whitney CONDER (USA) df. Daria LEKSINA (RUS), 7-0 
53kg: Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) df. Milana DADASHEVA (RUS), 10-7
55kg: Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) df. Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS), 5-4
57kg: Marina SIMONYAN (RUS) df. Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA) by TF, 10-0, 5:26 
59kg: Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Desiree ZAVALA (USA) by TF, 10-0, 2:12 
62kg: Macey KILTY (USA) df. Uliana TUKURENOVA (RUS) by Inj. Def., :35
65kg: Forrest MOLINARI (USA) df. Natalia FEDOSEEVA (RUS) by Fall, 4:49 (3-2)
68kg: Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) df. Anastasiia BRATCHIKOVA (RUS), 8-0
72kg: Victoria FRANCIS (USA) df. Evgeniia ZAKHARCHENKO (RUS) by Fall, 4:26 (8-5) 
76kg: Adeline GRAY (USA) df. Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS), 11-6 

3rd Session

50kg: Yui SUSAKI (JPN) df. SUN Yanan (CHN), 3-2
53kg: Haruna OKUNO (JPN) df. PANG Qianyu (CHN), 4-3
55kg: Akie HANAI (JPN) df. CHEN Jiawei (CHN), 6-0 
57kg: Risako KAWAI (JPN) df. FENG Yongxin (CHN), 6-0
59kg: Yuzuka INAGAKI (JPN) df. RONG Ningning (CHN), 2-0
62kg: Yukako KAWAI (JPN) df. KANG Juan (CHN) by Fall, 4:46 (8-0) 
65kg: WU Yaru (CHN) df. Misuzu ENOMOTO (JPN), 4-2
68kg: ZHOU Feng (CHN) df. Naruha MATSUYUKI (JPN), 2-0
72kg: WANG Juan (CHN) df. Yuka KAGAMI (JPN), 7-1
76kg: ZHOU Qian (CHN) df. Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN), 7-0

50kg: Whitney CONDER (USA) df. Namuuntsetseg TSOGT OCHIR (MGL), 4-3
53kg: Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) df. Anudari NANDINTSETSEG (MGL) by Fall, 1:32 (5-0)
55kg: Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) df. Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) by Fall, 3:18 (4-4) 
57kg: Battsetseg ALTANTSETSEG (MGL) df. Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA), 8-0 
59kg: Shoovdor BAATARJAV (MGL) df. Desiree ZAVALA (USA) by TF, 12-2, 3:00 
62kg: Macey KILTY (USA) df. Gantuya ENKHBAT (MGL), 4-2
65kg: Forrest MOLINARI (USA) df. Purevsuren ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL) 6-2
68kg: Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) df. Delgermaa ENKHSAIKHAN (MGL) by Fall, 4:51 (10-0)
72kg: Davaanasan ENKH AMAR (MGL) df. Victoria FRANCIS (USA) 13-7 
76kg: Adeline GRAY (USA) df. Ariunjargal GANBAT (MGL) by Fall, 2:40 (10-0)