Hildebrandt Prepares for U.S. Open
US Open Preview
By Gary Abbott
55 kg/121 lbs.
The top star at 55 kg has been two-time World medalist Helen Maroulis, who chose to compete at this weight last year, even though this is a non-Olympic weight. Maroulis won bronze at the 2014 Worlds and silver at the 2012 Worlds, and has been dominant in many international events so far this year. She was unbeaten at the World Cup, and has won five gold medals already this season.
Placing second behind Maroulis at the U.S. Open and World Team Trials is Sarah Hildebrandt, who finished her college career with a second WCWA women’s college nationals title in February and a second Pan Am gold in April. Another WCWA women’s college national champion, freshman Kayla Miracle, dropped down to 55 kg and won the Bill Farrell International. Miracle has two wins over national team member Jacarra Winchester this year, who also won a WCWA women’s college national title. Winchester boasts a win over Hildebrandt at the Farrell International.
Veteran Michaela Hutchison has been nationally ranked for many years, and has competed well when down to 55 kg. High school star Becka Leathers has competed on Cadet and Junior World Teams, and won a bronze medal as a Senior at the respected Klippan Open in Sweden.
University Nationals champion Tarkiya Mensah has shown great improvement, with a win over 2014 University Nationals champion Samantha Klingel, who has returned after a year off the mat. Others to watch are Tanalei Lewis and Tamara Tillman.