Adeline Gray with the gold medal after winning her fourth world title (Photo/Larry Slater)
BUDAPEST, Hungary -- After falling short at the 2016 Olympics and not competing in the 2017 World Championships, Adeline Gray is standing on the top of the podium again.
On Wednesday, Gray defeated 2017 world champion Yasemin Adar of Turkey in dominant fashion to become a four-time world champion.
Gray now joins John Smith, Tricia Saunders and Jordan Burroughs as the only four-time world champions in U.S. wrestling history. Gray won her last world title in 2015 and was a two-time returning champion heading into the Rio Olympics where she fell short of a medal.
Gray was facing a 1-0 deficit early in the gold-medal match but wasted little time before securing a takedown and locking up her iconic leg lace for a 13-1 victory, seconds before the first period ended.
"I took care of business I only needed one takedown to get my tech on top," Gray said. "The talent in this bracket is insane and I came out on top. You have world champions that didn't even get the chance to be on the medal stand."
Sarah Hildebrandt celebrates after reaching the finals (Photo/Sandy Slater)
Sarah Hildebrandt continued her strong year by reaching the gold-medal match at 53 kilograms.
In an overpowering fashion, Hildebrandt cruised to the world championship finals. Wrestling against Mary Weicker of Canada, Hildebrandt used a takedown and her leg lace to build an 8-0 lead heading into the break. Hildebrandt did not waste much time once the second period began, securing the technical fall 38 seconds into the period.
"It feels good," Hildebrandt said with an exuberant scream. "It's been my goal to really learn par terre so you can put matches away. There was a match this year where I was up 8-0 and all I had to do was put it away, I went out and got pinned. That was in the back of my mind. My mantra is 'Be demanding. Be solid. Be Sarah ' ... and I think doing all those things will lead me to a world title."
She will meet Haruna Okuno of Japan in the gold-medal match on Thursday.
In the other American semifinal match on Wednesday, Mallory Velte, competing at 62 kilograms, was pinned in the opening minute by Turkey's Taybe Yusein. Velte made a simple mistake allowing her to lock up the cradle and once Yusein had it tight she rolled Velte over for the fall.
Velte will wrestle tomorrow for the bronze medal.
Tamyra Mensah-Stock gets her hand raised after winning her bronze-medal match (Photo/Larry Slater)
Tamyra Mensah-Stock claimed the bronze medal at 68 kilograms, her first world medal. In the bronze-medal match against Olivia Di Bacco of Canada, Mensah-Stock held a slim 1-0 lead at the break, but used a takedown and a turn to build a 6-0 lead that she wouldn't relinquish. Di Bacco would get on the scoreboard, but Mensah-Stock stayed aggressive through the final whistle for a 7-4 victory.
An overjoyed Mensah-Stock was unable to contain herself as she paced back and force, tears streaming down her face with excitement while trying to speak.
"It's a heck of a step up from last year," Mensah-Stock said. "I don't know what it does for my confidence, but I know I'm praising God for whatever happens."
Forrest Molinari lost her bronze-medal match in heart breaking fashion at 65 kilograms. Molinari was never able to get any offense going in her bronze-medal match against Irina Netreba of Azerbaijan. In a match that only saw scoring on inactivity points, Molinari lost 1-1 on criteria. She scored first and was up 1-0 at the break, but Netreba was the victor by virtue of having scored the last point.
"I'm disappointed right now that I wasn't able to come out with a medal," Molinari said. "It's just refocusing and not letting this drag me down. Where I'm best is where I'm shooting and getting on people's legs."
U.S. women's coach Terry Steiner was proud of the results, but understands there is room for improvement.
"I thought we performed well," Steiner said. "We got some holes in our wrestling that we need to get better at. We need to clean some things up and keep moving forward."