Kuznetsova's Gold Pushes Russia Past Ukraine in Women's Team Race

By Eric Olanowski

NOVI SAD, Serbia (March 8) - The Russian Federation, led by their solo Day 6 champion Mariia KUZNETSOVA (RUS), captured the U23 European team title 12 points ahead of second-place Ukraine. Kuznetsova was one of three Russian women to leave Novi Sad with a gold medal. They also had a trio of runner-ups and pair of bronze-medal finishers. 

Russia trailed Ukraine by eight points heading into Kuznetsova’s 65kg gold-medal bout, but her 4-1 victory over Romania’s Kriszta INCZE put her country back in front by seven points. 

Evgeniia ZAKHARCHENKO’s second-place finish in the 72kg round-robin competition sealed the team title for Russia as they finished with 180 points. 

Ukraine, who finished in second place with two champions and three silver medalists, finished the tournament with a total of 168 points. 

Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK was one of three Ukrainian finalists, but the only one of Ukraine's Day 5 finalists to reach the top of the podium. It only took her 58 seconds to lock up a cradle and stick Germany's Luzie MANZKE in the 62kg gold-medal bout. 

Meanwhile, the other pair of Day 5 gold medals went to Germany’s Annika WENDLE and Hungary’s Ramona GALAMBOS. 

In the 53kg finals, Wendle and Khrystyna BEREZA (UKR) traded inactivity points, but it was a late failed Ukrainian challenge that proved to be the difference in the match. The German wrestler was awarded a point and closed out the match with the 2-1 victory. 

In the 57kg gold-medal bout, Ramona Galambos had the 1-1 advantage on criteria but used an inactivity point to take the 2-1 outright lead and eventually the win over Ukraine's Alina AKOBIIA. 

This was Galambos' 13th overall time competing at a European Championships, and first time winning a continental gold since she did so back at the 2013 Cadet European Championships. 

Wrestling resumes Saturday in Novi Sad with the freestyle qualifications rounds beginning at 11:30 (local time). The Day 6 freestyle semifinals begin at 17:15, and will be followed by the first five freestyle finals matchups. 

Women’s Wrestling 
Team Scores
GOLD - Russia  (180 points)

SILVER - Ukraine (168 points)
BRONZE - Turkey (118 points)
Fourth - Belarus (90 points)
Fifth - Romania (85 points)

GOLD - Annika WENDLE (GER) df. Khrystyna BEREZA (UKR), 2-1 
BRONZE - Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) df. Kremena PETROVA (BUL), 11-4
BRONZE Suzanna SEICARIU (ROU) df. Tatyana VARANSOVA (AZE), 2-2 

GOLD - Ramona GALAMBOS (HUN) df. Alina AKOBIIA (UKR), 2-1 
BRONZE - Elif YANIK (TUR) df. Valeryia YARMOLA (BLR), via fall 

GOLD - Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) df. Luzie MANZKE (GER), via fall 
BRONZE - Daria BOBRULKO (RUS) df. Ameline DOUARRE (FRA), 4-1

GOLD - Mariia KUZNETSOVA (RUS) df. Kriszta Tunde INCZE (ROU), 4-1 
BRONZE - Pauline Denise LECARPENTIER (FRA) df. Elis MANOLOVA (AZE), 5-5 
BRONZE - Noémi SZABADOS (HUN) df. Anastasiia LAVRENCHUK (UKR), 8-8

Anastasiya ZIMIANKOVA (BLR)