Scotts Valley’s Dominique Parrish earned gold in her senior world wrestling championships debut, giving the U.S. its first title of the competition in Belgrade.
“It’s so fun when you wrestle the best of the best,” she said.
Parrish, 25, beat Mongolian Batkhuyagiin Khulan 4-2 in the 53kg final, 116.8 pounds, emerging as the best after being seeded No. 7.
“Indescribable,” Parrish said, tears of joy in her eyes and giving a “thumbs up” sign while wrapping herself in an American flag. “It doesn’t feel real, but it is real … The coaches are the best … It’s been a long journey.”
She also thanked her training partner, Audrey, 16, who missed three weeks of class while Parrish practiced her moves on her, her teammates at Sunkist, her family and her boyfriend who came out, “and everyone who’s been messaging me and posting me and just, you know, encouraging me.”
The three Olympic medalists did not compete in the bracket this year. Defending champion Akari Fujinami of Japan, an 18-year-old phenom, withdrew due to a freak foot injury — throwing the competition wide open.
“No fear, have fun, active feet, fast hands,” Parrish told herself. “I wasn’t scared. I knew it was going to be tough.”
She had a few tense moments, adding, “I like coming from behind and winning. It’s the best feeling.”
Asked about Fujinami, Parrish said, “She’s the target, right? We’re going to pick ’em apart and beat ’em.”
Parrish earned state titles while at Scotts Valley High School.
She went to Simon Fraser University in Canada, where she won two Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association individual titles at 123 pounds (2018 and 2019). In her senior season (2018-19), she won the Patricia Miranda Medal as the outstanding female collegiate wrestler who embodies the spirit of the sport’s pioneers, and was named the 2019 WCWA Wrestler of the Year, voted on by the association’s coaches, and was chosen co-winner of Simon Fraser’s 2019 Lorne Davies Female Athlete of the Year.
In 2020, she was the U.S. Open champion. She was eliminated before the finals of last year’s Olympic trials, went to Tokyo as a training partner for an Olympian and then lost in the quarterfinals of the 2021 World Championships team trials.
“Definitely was like, I don’t know if I love this sport anymore,” said Parrish, who competed in three junior world championships with a best finish of fifth.
Now she’s on a short list of American women who have won a world title at an Olympic weight: Helen Maroulis and Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who own Olympic gold medals, and Adeline Gray, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist.
Next on Parrish’s schedule: the 2022 Bill Farrell Memorial International at the New York Athletic Club Nov. 18-19.
Top Photo: Dominique Parrish, who earned state titles wrestling for Scotts Valley High School, reaches the freestyle finals before claiming a gold medal at worlds. • Photo Credit: Tony Rotundo