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Ranking The 5 Best U.S. Women's Freestyle Wrestling Olympic Teams

Ranking The 5 Best U.S. Women's Freestyle Wrestling Olympic Teams

There have been five women's freestyle Olympic teams but only one can be the best. Find out what team gets the nod.

Jun 27, 2024 by Kyle Klingman
Ranking The 5 Best U.S. Women's Freestyle Wrestling Olympic Teams

Women’s freestyle wrestling was adopted as a sport during the 2004 Athens Olympics. Making a top-five list is easy since there are only five teams.

The 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics offered four weights before moving to six in 2016. Below is a breakdown. 

Here are the criteria used to pick and rank each team. 

1. Results
2. Body of work
3. Impact
4. Historical significance

5. 2012 London

Clarissa Chun was the lone medalist but winning her bronze medal match was important to her future. She lost by fall to Ukraine’s Iryna Merleni during the 2008 Olympics to finish fifth before turning the tables in 2012 against Merleni for a 1-0,3-0 win to take bronze.

Chun became a face for women’s wrestling and is currently the head women’s freestyle coach at the University of Iowa following a successful career at USA Wrestling. 

Elena Pirozhkova finished 14th but won a gold medal at the 2012 World Championships a few weeks later. 

48 kgClarissa ChunBronze
55 kgKelsey Campbell17th
63 kgElena Pirozhkova 14th
72 kgAli Bernard13th

4. 2008 Beijing

Randi Miller won bronze while Chun and Ali Bernard were in bronze medal matches. Miller posted two wins after falling to Japan’s 14-time World champion Kaori Icho in the quarterfinals. Chun, Miller (Texas Woman’s), and Bernard (Augsburg) are head college coaches. Marcie Van Dusen led Menlo for two seasons and is the current head women’s coach at Titan Mercury Wrestling Club. 

48 kgClarissa Chun5th
55 kgMarcie Van Dusen9th
63 kgRandi MillerBronze
72 kgAli Bernard5th

3. 2016 Rio

The United States only qualified four of six weights but Helen Maroulis’ gold medal shines bright. No American woman had accomplished this feat entering the Rio Olympics.

Maroulis won the 2015 Las Vegas World Championships at 55 kg but Japan’s Saori Yoshida, a 16-time World/Olympic champion, was the favorite when the two met in the finals. The Rockville, Maryland, native executed a tactical 4-1 masterpiece over Yoshida to make history. 

Elena Pirozhkova was a in bronze medal match while three-time World champion Adeline Gray (an eventual six-time champ) fell in the quarters and finished seventh. 

48 kgHaley Augello9th
53 kgHelen MaroulisGold
58 kgDid Not QualifyDNQ
63 kgElena Pirozhkova5th
69 kgDid Not QualifyDNQ
75 kgAdeline Gray7th

Maroulis' gold medal at the 2016 Olympics was a monumental moment for women's wrestling

2. 2004 Athens

The first U.S. women’s freestyle Olympic team will always have a special place in wrestling. In 2003, the Americans won seven medals out of seven weights at the World Championships but finished second to Japan on criteria. A few weeks later, the same team knocked off Japan in Japan at the World Cup. 

Patricia Miranda won bronze, becoming the first American woman to medal at the Olympics. 

Sara McMann won silver, becoming the first American woman to reach the finals at the Olympics.

Tela O’Donnell (6th) and Toccara Montgomery (7th) rounded out the inaugural four-member team. 

48 kgPatricia MirandaBronze
55 kgTela O'Donnell6th
63 kgSara McMannSilver
72 kgToccara Montgomery7th

1. 2020 Tokyo

This is the undisputed best U.S. Olympic team so far. The United States was represented at all six weights and brought home four medals. Tamyra Mensah Stock won gold, Adeline Gray won silver, and Sarah Hildebrandt and Helen Maroulis won bronze. 

Maroulis became the first American woman to win multiple medals at the Olympics and Mensah-Stock became the first black woman to win the Olympics in women’s freestyle wrestling.

Every member has won multiple World and Olympic medals. 

50 kgSarah HildebrandtBronze
53 kgJacarra Winchester5th
57 kgHelen MaroulisBronze
62 kgKayla Miracle12th
68 kgTamyra Mensah-StockGold
76 kgAdeline GraySilver