Helen Maroulis Among Four Victorious U.S. Women As Wrestlers Return To The Mat In France

by Chrös McDougall

Helen Maroulis competes against Saori Yoshida of Japan during the Women's Freestyle 53 kg Gold medal match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 at Carioca Arena 2 on Aug. 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Helen Maroulis’ comeback tour continued Friday as she won the women’s 57 kg. freestyle wrestling title at the Henri Deglane Grand Prix in Nice, France.

Competing for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world in March 2020, Maroulis was one of eight U.S. women who won medals in Nice, and joined Sarah Hildebrandt (50 kg.), Kayla Miracle (62 kg.) and Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kg.) in winning their weight classes.

The first American to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s freestyle wrestling, Maroulis also won world titles in 2015 and 2017. However, she soon found herself on the brink of retirement as she dealt with a series of injuries, including two concussions and a neck injury that kept her out of the sport for a year and a half.

After competing at the 2018 world championships with a shoulder injury, Maroulis didn’t wrestle again until February 2020, when she won a wrestle-off for the chance to compete at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in March. At that competition she won again to secure an Olympic quota spot at 57 kg.

The Baltimore native continued her strong form this week, winning all four matches. In the final against Germany's Laura Mertens, Maroulis went up early on a takedown before winning 4-1.

Mensah-Stock, another former world champ, defeated fellow American Forrest Molinari 6-1 in the 68 kg. final.

Jacarra Winchester, who won the 2019 world title at the non-Olympic weight of 55 kg. but has since moved down to 53 kg., finished second in that weight class after losing 7-4 to Sweden’s Sofia Mattsson in the final.

Macey Kilty also earned a second-place finish competing in the 62 kg. weight class, while Amy Fearnside, competing at 50 kg., took third.

The Henri Deglane Grand Prix continues with the men’s freestyle competition on Saturday followed by men’s Greco-Roman on Sunday. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling are scheduled for April in Pennsylvania.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.