2023 US Open Wrestling Championships

The 76 kg US Open Field Is Loaded With Star Power

The 76 kg US Open Field Is Loaded With Star Power

No weight class compares to 76 kilograms at this year's US Open, and we can't wait to see who comes out on top.

Apr 5, 2023 by Kyle Klingman
The 76 kg  US Open Field Is Loaded With Star Power

The 2023 US Open is upon us, and no weight class has more depth and intrigue that 76 kilograms. 

Adeline Gray, 32, has owned the weight domestically and abroad for over a decade. Her medal haul includes six World titles, two bronze, and a silver medal at the 202One Olympic Games. However, she did not represent the United States at the 2022 World Championships. 

Dymond Guilford made the team in 2022 and was the first person other than Gray to represent America at the heaviest women’s weight class since 2012. Gray took a one-year hiatus after giving birth to twins, but she is already registered. 

She will have to navigate the toughest domestic field since she began competing. 

Guilford didn’t medal at last year’s World Championships so the 76-kilogram weight is wide open for two available Final X spots. The winner of the US Open earns an automatic berth, while someone else gets the other spot by winning World Team Trials Challenge Tournament on May 20-21 in Colorado Springs. 

Here’s a look at the contenders, all of whom have reached Final X or the Olympic Trials finals. 

Adeline Gray

Gray, as mentioned above, has a massive medal haul. She is tied with Jordan Burroughs for the most World titles by an American at six. Another title this year for Gray would either tie or pass Burroughs depending on if he makes the team and wins another gold medal. 

We haven’t seen Gray compete since she won the 2021 World Championships, so this tournament is somewhat of a test run. She usually earns an automatic berth to Final X since she wins World gold medals, but this is a new year and a new opportunity. 

There’s no telling how she will perform against a young and talented field after giving birth to children. And there’s no telling if the rest of the field is ready for the best leg lace in the world. 

Don’t be surprised if Gray turns this tournament into gold — again. 

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Adeline Gray blazed a trail others are still following

Kennedy Blades

Blades reached the 202One Olympic Trials finals at 68 kilograms at the age of 18, where she fell in straight matches to eventual Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock. She won a U20 World title at 72 kilograms later that year but fell to Kylie Welker in the Senior World Team Trials Challenge tournament where she suffered a concussion.

That injury sidelined her for the entire 2022 season but she has competed twice this year, including an impressive gold medal performance at the Ibrahim Moustafa tournament in Egypt on February 23. Blades and Welker are competing in the U20 World Team Trials the week prior, so they could meet there and at the US Open. 

The Broadview, Illinois, native can take down anyone with her masterful and explosive technique. That will be her edge as she seeks her first senior world team spot. 

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Blades dominated and won big in the finals of the Ibrahim Moustafa Ranking Series tournament

Kylie Welker

Like Blades, Welker is seeking U20, U23, and Senior World team spots. There’s a chance that one could make an age-level World team and the other makes a senior-level team. That’s how good both wrestlers are, and that’s how deep and unpredictable this weight will be. 

Welker dropped straight matches to Gray at the 202One Olympic Trials as an 18-year-old. She made the 72-kg 2021 Senior World team over Blades and won a 76-kg bronze medal at U23 World Championships later that year. 

Her last competition was the 2022 Soldier Salute. Don’t look too much into her second-place performance, though. There were only three competitors at 170 pounds and she won all three of her matches (they wrestled two separate round robins) by 10-0 scores. She forfeited her final matches to Tristan Kelly as a precaution.

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Learn more about Kylie Welker's path to stardom

Yelena Makoyed

Makoyed has never made a World team of any kind, but overlook her at your own peril. The North Central star recently won her third NCWWC title by pinning her way through the tournament without surrendering a point all season. She fell to Guilford at last year’s Final X but has won four straight international ranking tournaments since. Her hit list includes pinning Turkey’s two-time World champion Yasemin Adar at the 2022 World Cup in Coralville, Iowa. 

The Orangevale, California, native was recently named USA Wrestling Women’s College Wrestler of the Year.

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Scoring highlights from a match decided in the last seconds between Yelena Makoyed and three-time world medalist Epp Mae at the  2022 Matteo Pellicone.

Dymond Guilford

Guilford made the 2022 Senior World team and won a silver medal at the U23 Worlds a few weeks later. The Cumberlands star won her fourth national collegiate championship this year following an undefeated season. She won a bronze medal at the Zagreb Open in February and won both her matches at last year’s World Cup. 

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Guilford had an impressive showing at the 2022 World Cup in Coralville, Iowa

Precious Bell

Bell never won a national collegiate championship but was the favorite in 2020 when the tournament was canceled. She is a two-time US Open champion who reached Final X in 2019, where she fell in straight matches to Gray. She placed fifth at the Zagreb Open behind Makoyed and Guilford. 

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Precious Bell scored a 10-0 tech over Canada's Shauna Kuebeck at this year's Zagreb Open

Skylar Grote

Grote is moving up to 76 kg after competing last year at 72. Her 2022 season included golds at the Pan-Am Championships and Matteo Pellicone and a bronze at the Zouhaier Sghaier Tournament. 

She won the Zagreb Open at 72 kg on February 1 but placed 12th when she moved up to 76 for the Ibrahim Moustafa tournament (won by Blades) a few weeks later. Grote fell to Amit Elor in straight matches at last year’s Final X. Elor eventually won U20, U23, and Senior World titles in the same year. 

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Skylar Grote won the 2023 Zagreb Open at 72 kg

Don’t look away when this year’s US Open quarterfinals happen. This will be good!