2021 Junior World Champions Kylie Welker (left), Amit Elor (center), Emily Shilson (Photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
Coming into Thursday, the United States Junior Women's program had never crowned more than a single world champion in the same year. That fact was blown out of the water by three women who earned the honor and another that could achieve the feat tomorrow.
Not only did three American women win world championships, but they also did so by dominating the competition. Emily Shilson (50 kg), Amit Elor (68 kg), and Kylie Welker (76 kg) all won their gold medal matches via technical superiority, none of which went scored upon, and each one finished the job in the first period.
Shilson took the mat first and earned an early takedown off an arm drag. Fighting from behind, her opponent, Enkhzul Batbaatar (Mongolia), felt the need to initiate offense and attempted a shot on the American. Shilson blocked the attempt and spun for a second takedown. That's when the match spiraled out of control, in favor of Shilson, as she turned Batbaatar at least three times for a 10-0 win via technical superiority. The win marked the first Junior World title for an American woman since Maya Nelson did so in 2017. It's also the second world title for Shilson, a Cadet World Champion in 2018.
Shilson's concise victory was a sign of things to come as Amit Elor stepped onto the raised stage just a few matches later. For Elor, a stout defensive ended up being the best offense, as she turned away an attempt from Elizaveta Petliakova (Russia) and grabbed an early takedown. From there, Elor proceeded to rack up exposure points from three leg laces, to lead 8-0. With such a substantial advantage, Elor used an underhook and bullied Petliakova around the mat. She appeared ready to set up a throw and end the match in grand fashion, but settled for a pair of step-out points. Elor only needed a minute and 51 seconds to win a Junior title. In three matches, Elor outscored her opponents 31-0 and never wrestled longer than 2:11. This win comes less than a month after Elor won a Cadet World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.
Concluding a monumental day for the American women was Kylie Welker at 76 kg. Welker also appeared to be in a class of her own. She secured an early single-leg versus Bipasha (India) and earned four points for completing the hold and taking her opponent to her back. Just a short time later, Welker nullified a Bipasha shot attempt and spun for a takedown. Immediately, she transitioned into a leg lace and rolled twice for a sufficient point total to terminate the bout. Welker also won her world title by a 10-0 margin. During her run through the 76 kg weight class, Welker posted 31-0 scores, along with a first-period fall in the semis. Only one of her four contests made it past the halfway mark. This is now her second world medal (3rd at Cadet's in 2019) and first as a Junior.
A possible fourth champion is standing by in the world finals as Kennedy Blades is slated to meet Lilly Schneider (Germany) with a 72 kg gold medal hanging in the balance. Blades entered the tournament as perhaps the most significant favorite among the American team. She has not disappointed either, outscoring her three opponents by a 31-0 clip. Blades' semifinal match will make any and all wrestling highlight reels after she started the bout with a five-pointer. Eager to jump on the scoreboard, just a few seconds into the match, Blades took a double-leg attempt but was stopped by her opponent, Saneh (India). Even though she couldn't convert the initial shot, Blades took Saneh's back and executed a picturesque back arch. Somehow, Saneh survived the first period, but only lasted 20 seconds in the final stanza before surrendering 10 points for a tech.
Also chasing hardware is Kennedy's younger sister Korina, at 62 kg. The younger Blades had one of the more memorable moments in a day packed full of them. She trailed Turkey's Yagmur Cakmak by a 9-1 score and was endanger of falling via tech. While in charge of a front headlock, Blades hit a perfect dump, straight to the Turk's back and quickly held her down for a fall. While Blades lost in the semifinals, she still has the opportunity to capture bronze. She'll have to defeat the winner of the German and Croatian entry to bring home a medal.
The next US woman with medal hopes is Jaslynn Gallegos at 53 kgs. Gallegos used an impressive array of big moves to log a 13-1 win over Chamodya Maduravalage Don (Sri Lanka) in the quarterfinals. The semis were not kind to her as it was all Emma Malmgren (Sweden), all the time. Malmgren put the finishing touches on a 12-1 tech as the final buzzer sounded in the first period. Gallegos will need to win one more bout to lock up a bronze medal.
Finally, Alara Boyd is still in the medal hunt. The two-time Cadet world medalist had a rough draw and faced 2021 European Senior and U23 Champion Irina Ringaci (Moldova) in the opening round. Ringaci rolled to a 9-2 win. Since Ringaci made the finals, Body has been ruled into repechage. Boyd win need to win two bouts to earn bronze. Her first opponent will be Belarus' Yana Tretsiak.
Full American Results
Gold Medal Match
Emily Shilson (USA) over Enkhzul Batbaatar (Mongolia) 10-0
Jaslynn Gallegos (USA) over Chamodya Maduravalage Don (Sri Lanka) 13-1
Emma Malmgren (Sweden) over Jaslynn Gallegos (USA) 12-1
Munkhgerel Munkhbat (Mongolia) over Payton Stroud (USA) 10-0
Mansi (India) over Claire DiCugno (USA) 16-4
Korina Blades (USA) over Nadzeya Bulanaya (Belarus) 8-2
Korina Blades (USA) over Yagmur Cakmak (Turkey) Fall 5:03
Alina Kasabieva (Russia) over Korina Blades (USA) 10-0
Irina Ringaci (Moldova) over Alara Boyd (USA) 9-2
Gold Medal Match
Amit Elor (USA) over Elizaveta Petliakova (Russia) 10-0
Kennedy Blades (USA) over Mariam Guseinova (Russia) 10-0
Kennedy Blades (USA) over Nurzat Nurtaeva (Kyrgyzstan) 10-0
Kennedy Blades (USA) over Saneh (India) 11-0
Gold Medal Match
Kylie Welker (USA) over Bipasha (India) 10-0