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Ex-U.S. Olympic Education Center wrestlers Helen Maroulis, Adeline Gray leading contenders at Olympic trials

American Helen Maroulis celebrates after winning the gold medal during the women's 53-kg freestyle wrestling competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 18, 2016. Maroulis was one of the most celebrated Olympians in 2016 when she became the first American to win a gold medal in women's wrestling, and she was expected to be one of the faces of the sport in Tokyo in 2020. She still might be if she's able to qualify. (AP file photo)

MARQUETTE — A pair of former Northern Michigan University-affiliated wrestlers head up what is termed a “deep talent pool” by The Associated Press for the upcoming women’s U.S. Olympic wrestling trials.

2016 Olympic champion Helen Maroulis, the first American woman to win gold at the Olympics in wrestling, will be joined by five-time world champion Adeline Gray.

Both wrestlers attended Marquette Senior High School while training at the U.S. Olympic Education Center at NMU.

The Olympic trials, which include freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, are scheduled for today and Saturday at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, the AP said. They were originally scheduled for last April at Penn State but called off when the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. The move to Texas was made because of coronavirus restrictions still in place in Pennsylvania.

Most, but not all, of the qualifiers coming out of Texas are assured a spot in the Olympics due to the U.S. qualifying in most weight classes. More qualifying spots may be added for U.S. athletes at tournaments later this spring, the AP report indicated.

Helen Maroulis of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Marwa Amri of Tunisia in the women's 58 kg division during the finals of the Wrestling World Cup at the Paris Bercy Arena in Paris, France, on Aug. 23, 2017. (AP file photo)

Maroulis, 29, who doesn’t have to wrestle until the finals at 57 kilograms (125.7 pounds), has overcome serious concussion issues and other injuries since taking gold in Rio de Janeiro. She briefly considered retirement.

Maroulis also won her third consecutive gold medal at the world championships and Olympics in 2017, defeating Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri of Tunisia in the finals at 58 kg (128 lbs.) with a technical fall, according to a Wikipedia site devoted to her.

She went on to join the Pro Wrestling League, where she fought and lost to Pooja Dhanda in January 2018, which was cited as the cause of a serious head injury when she lost later that year in the world championships.

“I’ve fought tooth and nail to get back to this point,” she told the AP. “I trust the process, love where I’m at and love the training and preparation, so I’m ready to go. Physically, I’ve never felt better. My head is 100%.”

Gray, 30, won her unmatched five world championships in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019, according to the Wikipedia site devoted to her. She has generally competed in the 75 kg or 76 kg (165.3 lbs. or 167.6 lbs.) division.

Adeline Gray of United States reacts as she won the gold medal match of the women's 76 kg division against Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki of Japan during the Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Sept. 19, 2019. (AP file photo)

In 2019, Gray also won gold at the Pan American Wrestling Championships, while in 2020, she was silver medalist at the same event after withdrawing from the championship match due to a rib fracture.

Two other well known wrestlers in the field at 2019 world champs Tamyra Mensah-Stock and Jacarra Winchester.

On the men’s side, Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake highlight the 74 kg (163.1 lb.) division.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@

miningjournal.net.

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