Japan's Kaori Icho cruises to 10th world title
LAS VEGAS (AP) Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho made it look as though winning her 10th world title was a breeze.
Americans Helen Maroulis and Adeline Gray were nearly as dominant in giving the U.S. its first two gold medals of the world championships.
Icho cruised to her 10th world title Thursday night, joining teammate Saori Yoshida (13) as the only women with double-digit titles.
Icho beat Finland's Petra Olli 10-0 in the 58-kilogram (128-pound) final for her 158th consecutive win in major international competition.
Asked why the pair is so good, Icho said simply that ''we like the practice.''
Icho and Yoshida both have three Olympic gold medals as well. They'll leave Las Vegas as the prohibitive favorites for next summer's Rio Games.
The U.S. have never won Olympic gold in women's freestyle.
But now the Americans have two serious contenders to break that streak.
Maroulis won her first world title at 55 kilograms (121 pounds), and Gray won for the third time in four years by defeating Qian Zhou of China 13-2 at 75 kilos (158.5 pounds).
Maroulis cruised to the final with a 5-0 win over China's Qianyu Pang. Maroulis then jumped ahead of Irina Ologonova with a takedown in less than 20 seconds and at one point ran the Russian off the mat.
Maroulis, who won a silver and bronze medal in the past but never gold, closed out an 11-0 win in 4:29.
''After getting bounced out in the semifinals the last two years, I knew something had to change,'' Maroulis said.
Gray was dominant in the early rounds, outscoring her opponents 36-2. Brazil's Aline Da Silva, who Gray beat for the 2014 world title, nearly pinned Gray with 2 minutes left in the semifinals. But Gray responded with a takedown a few seconds later to seal a 10-2 win.
Gray fell behind 2-0 in the final before dominating the second period and clinching the win on technical superiority.
''I should start every match letting her take me down because then I start to wrestle,'' Gray said.
Mongolian Battsetseg Soronzonbold pinned Japan's Risako Kawai in 36 seconds in the women's 63-kilogram (139-pound) final.
Italy's Frank Chamizo Marquez beat Uzbekistan's Ikhtiyor Navruzov to win the men's 65-kilogram (143- pound) title and become the first Italian world champion in freestyle.
Chamizo Marquez's title was the one American Bret Metcalf had hoped would finally be his.
But the world's No. 2 at 65 kilos couldn't survive a tough draw on his side of the bracket.
Metcalf survived a compelling early challenge from China's Katal Yeerlanbieke. Both wrestlers struggled to stand at various points, and Metcalf was nearly taken down before the clock - and his technique - helped see him through an exhausting 5-3 win.
But an unlucky draw saw Metcalf get No. 1 Sayed Mohammad of Iran in the round of 16, where a worn-out Metcalf lost 5-4.
''I lost to a good opponent and you have to put that on me to get better and figure it out,'' said Metcalf, who still looks like a favorite to medal in Rio.