Former PH assistant coach Kriebel prepares for Olympic Games


PENDLETON — Former Pendleton Heights assistant wrestling coach Katie Kriebel has done it all in the world of women’s wrestling.

From the high school level, all the way up to world championships, Kriebel has left her mark on the sport.

This year, she gets to add another chapter to her journey that began in the 90s with a trip to the Olympics as an assistant coach.

“It’s going to be special because every single person that is involved in all of the roles is there because magical moments are going to happen between humans performing at the highest level,” Kriebel said. “These women are all incredible, and now you’re going to have that one moment where it all matters. They’ll all have their moment to make art and you’ll see the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

Kriebel, an Assistant National Women’s Coach for USA Wrestling, will be part of the group that travels overseas for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

It will be Kriebel’s second time being involved with the Olympic Games. In 2008, she went to the Beijing Olympics as a training partner for one of the Olympians.

Kriebel, who has been part of the USA coaching staff since 2022, will head to the games in late July but will be part of a group that will stay in Normandy, rather than Paris for most of the time.

The athletes and head coach Terry Steiner will head over first and will check into Olympic Village, get their gear and participate in the opening ceremonies before meeting the rest of the staff and their training partners in Normandy for a week before heading back for the competition.

“This competition is unique in that everyone will be on a different schedule. One person might be competing while another is still training while another is trying to make weight and get their body feeling great. I’ll have lots of duties in Normandy and some duties over in Paris,” Kriebel said. “My brain is kind of in service because that’s my role. I won’t be in a lot of the glamorous parts of it. However, it still is the Olympics. It’s an incredible moment. I’m looking forward to soaking that in as an experience.”

With some athletes qualifying at the World Championships last year, some at the Pan-Am Championships and some at the Olympic Trials, the team has been set since April.

For Kriebel, that’s when the Olympic preparation began to ramp up.

“We got all of them together right away and did a lot of meetings to try and wrap our heads around what the summer would look like,” Kriebel said.

Since then, the team has had a camp per month, with their most recent taking place in Pennsylvania alongside the men’s team. The team will compete in one more international competition and will have camps in June and July in Colorado Springs before heading over to Paris.

“It’s all the extra stuff and the hype. Everybody wants a piece of the Olympian’s time. They’ve all got opportunities to use their platform or get partnerships for some financial stability,” Kreibel said of the differences in an Olympic year. “There’s also more people paying attention to our sport than normal, so it’s all the non-wrestling stuff. The actual practices and camps and competitions are not that much different.”

According to Kriebel, Team USA will have plenty for viewers to look out for when watching the games.

Two young stars in Kennedy Blades and Amit Elor will lead the way surrounded by a seasoned group of wrestlers. Blades and Elor are both 20 years old and already have a variety of world championship medals. Blades has four medals while Elor already has six world titles.

“What Amit has done is unheard of,” Kriebel said.

Two former Indiana wrestlers will be competing too. Sarah Hildebrandt, a Penn High School alumni, will be competing for the second time, as well as Kayla Miracle, a Culver Academy alum.

Helen Maroulis will make history by being the first women’s wrestler to compete in three Olympics while Dominique Parrish rounds out the Team USA roster.

“The sport has steadily grown in my time, but there was an absolute explosion around 2016 in high school numbers and it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. It’s just a pretty exciting time to be a female in sports right now and a fan of female sports,” Kriebel said. “We’re going through what women’s soccer went through in the 90s with the big boom of numbers and excitement over the sport because of the opportunities and the stars that our sport has right now.”

In the 1990s, when Kriebel started wrestling, few girls were involved in the sport. She won a Junior World Silver medal in 1999 and went on to win World Bronze medals for Team USA in 2005 and 2007. She is also a three-time U.S. Open champion.

During her stint at Pendleton Heights, Kriebel not only served as an assistant coach but was instrumental in starting the Krieb’s Club Wrestling group, named in honor of her friend, wrestling coach and eventual relative-through-marriage Eric Kriebel, who passed away in 2003.

In 2010, Kriebel was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.

She has also encouraged and supported the growth of girls joining and competing as Arabian wrestlers. She also has been a strong advocate for the IHSAA sanctioning of girls wrestling in the state of Indiana, which came to fruition earlier this year. And in an Olympic year, there are more eyes than ever on a sport that has been steadily growing throughout not only the state of Indiana but the entire country.

“Everybody can see the opportunities, but now we’re getting to the kids that have grown up with the sport since they were little kids,” Kriebel said. “Kids who grew up with women’s wrestling and coaches who have always been around women’s wrestling. That changes the attitudes and mindsets.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are set to run from July 26 to August 11, with wrestling slated to begin on August 5.

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