One win away: Bronze medalist wrestler Sarah Hildebrandt on cusp of 2024 Paris Olympics

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One win away: Bronze medalist wrestler Sarah Hildebrandt on cusp of 2024 Paris Olympics

Being a medal winner at the World Wrestling Championships has its perks for Granger native Sarah Hildebrandt.

For starters, she has a much shorter road to travel in her quest to make this year’s US Olympic Team.

The Olympic Trials in wrestling begin Friday at Penn State University, and Hildebrandt — a bronze medal winner at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 — has been seeded straight into the championship round of the 50 Kg (110 pound) weight class.

More: Sarah Hildebrandt earns fifth World Wrestling medal, still seeking gold

Because Hildebrandt won a bronze medal at last year’s world championship meet in Belgrade, Serbia, she has been awarded a bye into Saturday night’s finals by USA Wrestling, the governing body of the sport.

If the Penn High School graduate can win two of three matches in the championship series, she will earn a spot on Team USA for the Paris Olympics, scheduled July 26-Aug. 11.

The finals will be broadcast on USA Network, and also on NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, starting at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday.

Hildebrandt will face the winner of a 10-athlete challenge tournament running Friday and Saturday.

Sarah Hildebrandt flexes during weigh ins before RUDIS Wrestling Super Match 1, Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at the Sound Board Theater in MotorCity Casino in Detroit, Mich. 220315 Super Match Weigh 010 Jpg

The No. 1-seeded wrestler in that group of challengers is Audrey Jimenez, a high school senior from Tucson, Ariz.  Just a few weeks ago, Jimenez became the first female to ever win a high school wrestling state title in Arizona, competing against boys.

In 2011, it should be remembered, Hildebrandt was the first female ever to reach the semistate level in Indiana, when she was a senior at Penn.

She’s 30 years old now and married, but Hildebrandt remains steadfast in her quest to win a gold medal at the Olympic or World Championship level.

Hildebrandt owns two World Championship silver medals, having finished second at 53 Kg in 2018 and second at 50 Kg in 2021. She has two World Championship bronze medals to go along with the Olympic bronze she won at the 2020 Tokyo games held in 2021 because of COVID.

Aug 7, 2021; Chiba, Japan; Sarah Ann Hildebrandt (USA) celebrates her bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 50kg wrestling competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Makuhari Messe Hall A. Mandatory Credit: Mandi Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Where this hemisphere is concerned, she is a seven-time winner at the Pan American championships.

Hildebrandt is not the only athlete with local connections to be awarded a bye into the championship round.

At 62 Kg (136 pounds), Culver Academies graduate Kayla Miracle is also in the finals. Like Hildebrandt, she is a returning Olympic team member.

More: How one night in June was ‘like a fairytale’ for Penn High School athletics

In  2012, Miracle became the first female to qualify for the IHSAA state finals, a year after Hildebrandt showed the way.

Broadcast coverage of the Trials begins on Peacock at 10 a.m. Friday, with Jason Knapp, Jim Scherr, and Zora Stephenson providing the commentary.

USA Network will broadcast portions of the challenge tournament from 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday and the live finals starting 6:30 p.m. Saturday.


WHEN: Friday and Saturday

WHERE: State College, Pa. (Penn State University)

WHAT: Wrestlers trying to earn a spot on the US Olympic Team in Men’s Freestyle, Women’s Freestyle and Greco-Roman.

BROADCAST: Finals will be broadcast on USA Network from 6:30 pm-10 p.m. Saturday.

WOMEN’S TOP SEEDS: 50 Kg – Sarah Hildebrandt (Penn High School grad); 53 Kg – Dominique Parrish; 57 Kg – Helen Maroulis; 62 Kg – Kayla Miracle (Culver Academies grad); 68 Kg – Amit Alour; 76 Kg – Adeline Gray.

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: USA Olympic wrestling trials: Granger native Sarah Hildebrandt in final

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