Two weeks ago Helen Maroulis proved she’s the top wrestler in the country at her weight class. This summer the 24-year old Rockville native will have a chance to show she’s the best in the world.
Maroulis punched her ticket to the Rio Games by winning an Olympic qualifying tournament in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on Sunday, easily beating Greece’s Maria Prevolaraki, 10-0, in the gold-medal match.
Maroulis won the 53-kilogram (116 pounds) division at the U.S. trials earlier this month, but the Americans had not yet qualified that weight class for Rio. Now there’s nothing standing between Maroulis and the Olympics, which will take place in August.
Four years ago, Maroulis missed out on the London Games by losing in the U.S. wrestling trials, a single point separating the young wrestler from her Olympic dream. She has since won a world championship at 55 kilograms and hasn’t lost in international competition in more than a year.
Maroulis clinched her spot in the Rio Games by virtue of advancing to the finals in Mongolia. She cruised through the early rounds of the tournament there with an 8-2 decision of Mexico’s Alma Jane Valencia Esccoto and a 10-2 win over India’s Kumari Babita.
The semifinals – the match that ultimately locked up her Rio bid – was her most dominant performance, and Maroulis picked up a fall over Ukraine’s Lilya Horishna in 28 seconds.
Also for the U.S. team, Haley Augello lost her gold-medal match in the 48-kilogram (105 ½ pounds) division but also secured her spot at the Rio Games by reaching the finals. Two other Americans who won at the U.S. wrestling trials failed to qualify their weight class for the Olympics. Tamyra Mensah, who competes at 69 kilograms (152 pounds) and Kelsey Campbell, who wrestles at 58 kilograms (128 pounds), have one final shot to qualify at a tournament next month in Istanbul.