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  • 2024 Olympic Team Trials Men's Greco-Roman Preview (60, 67, 77kg)

    It’s almost here! The field has been set and the eyes of the American wrestling world are ready to collectively focus on State College, Pennsylvania, the setting of the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials. The Trials are always incredible and a must-see for fans; however, this one is a bit more special after the most recent Trials. Delayed by a year, because of COVID, the 2020(1) Trials were moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and did not have the type of crowd that is expected to pack the Bryce Jordan Center this time. 
    Our previews have been broken down to half of a particular style at a time. Last week, we started with men's freestyle, then moved into women's freestyle. Now we're wrapping up with Greco-Roman.  We'll start with the first three weight - coincidentally, none of the first three weights have been qualified for the Olympic Games, so the winner in each weight class will need to head to the Last Chance Qualifier in early-May.  
    For each weight, we’ll mention the qualifiers, along with how they qualified, and notes about each of the participants, followed by a finals prediction.
    60 kg qualifiers
    2020 Olympic Team member: Ildar Hafizov
    2023 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (55 kg) - Brady Koontz
    2022 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (63 kg) - Sammy Jones
    2024 Armed Forces champion (55 kg): Billy Sullivan
    2024 Armed Forces champion: Dalton Duffield
    2024 Armed Forces runner-up (63 kg): Sidney Flores
    2021 World Team member: Dalton Roberts
    2023 Bill Farrell runner-up: Randon Miranda
    Senior Nationals runner-up: Hayden Tuma
    Senior Nationals third place: Max Black
    Senior Nationals fourth place: Dylan Gregerson
    Senior Nationals fifth place: Taylor LaMont
    Last Chance Qualifier champion: Phillip Moomey
    Right off the bat, we have a gigantic weight class with a ton of depth. Four wrestlers in this bracket have made Senior World/Olympic teams - Ildar Hafizov, Brady Koontz, Sammy Jones, and Dalton Roberts. Hafizov won the 2020(1) Trials with a pair of techs and looks to be the favorite again. He’ll start as the top seed at this weight. Longtime Army WCAP teammate and opponent, Dalton Roberts, will hold the second seed. The two have met a staggering 14 times since the 2018 World Team Trials!! Roberts holds an 8-6 advantage. 
    Roberts will anchor a bottom half of the bracket that is loaded. Hayden Tuma and Sammy Jones have made the cut down from 63 kg and assume the #3 and #6 seeds, respectively. Both Tuma and Jones have competed in and lost in the last two editions of Final X (at 63 kg). Also on the bottom half are Brady Koontz and Dalton Duffield. The pair met in Final X last year with Koontz getting the win after getting teched in the first bout. 
    The top half of the bracket is led by Hafizov, but will also feature Max Black and Randon Miranda as the next two seeds (#4/#5). Both have plenty of international experience on the international level - Black has made a pair of U20 World Teams, while Miranda did the same and was also on the 2018 U23 team. 
    Former DI All-American Taylor LaMont could represent a decent threat on the top half of the bracket as the eighth seed. LaMont had a ridiculous eight-year streak that saw him make an age-group world team, with the only interruption coming during the COVID year of 2020. 
    Prediction: Ildar Hafizov over Dalton Roberts
     
    67 kg qualifiers
    2020 Olympic Team member: Alex Sancho
    2021 World Team member: Peyton Omania
    2019 World Team member: Ellis Coleman
    2023 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (63 kg): Xavier Johnson
    2023 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (72 kg): Pat Smith
    2018 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (63 kg): Jesse Thielke
    2023 Bill Farrell runner-up: Justus Scott
    Senior Nationals third place: Robert Perez III
    Senior Nationals fourth place: David Stepanian
    2024 Armed Forces champion: Peter Ogunsanya
    2024 Armed Forces runner-up (72 kg): Jamel Johnson
    Last Chance Qualifier champion: Duncan Nelson
    So, we said 60 kg was loaded and deep, maybe 67 kg is even better? 67 kg boasts 30% of the 2023 World Team amongst its competitors and six past Senior World Team/Olympic Team members in its field. Alex Sancho was an Olympian in 2021 and is one of three in the bracket, as he’s joined by Jesse Thielke and Ellis Coleman. Sancho has made three of the last four World/Olympic teams at this weight so he’s a slight favorite amongst a bracket filled with potential hurdles. 
    What’s interesting about this bracket is that the younger wrestlers, the ones that have competed more recently, have received the favorable seeds. Peyton Omania (#2), Robert Perez III (#3), and David Stepanian (#4). That may be the correct way to seed the bracket; however, it makes for some dangerous low seeds. How about a first-round matchup between #8 Jesse Thielke and #9 Xavier Johnson? Then the winner faces Sancho? Or Pat Smith as the #5 seed and Coleman as the #7? Because of this, 67 kg could be a bracket with a bunch of high seeds in the semis and/or finals. On paper, it could look like a bunch of upsets, but in reality, it isn’t the case. 
    It’s tough to forecast how someone like Coleman will do in this bracket. Obviously, if he’s at or near top form, he could take the entire thing. 
    Smith is seeking to make his first Olympic Team after making four world teams at three different weights (71, 72, 77). This could be a fourth for him. Last time, during the Olympic Trials process, Smith went up to 77 kg. If the weight cut isn’t too terrible, he could be a very dangerous fifth seed. 
    The younger generation of stars is led by 2023 US Open champions Perez III and Justus Scott (72 kg). Perez ended up losing a pair of close bouts to Sancho at Final X, while Scott fell to Smith in a brutal three-match series. 
    This bracket will truly be a contrast in narratives, will it be a changing of the guard for this new era of competitors or one last hurrah for some fixtures on the Greco circuit? 
    Prediction: Pat Smith over Robert Perez III
     
    77 kg Qualifiers
    2023 World Team member: Kamal Bey
    2022 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (72kg): Benji Peak 
    2021 World Team member: Jesse Porter
    2018 World Team member at non-Olympic weight (72kg): RaVaughn Perkins
    Senior National third place: Danny Braunagel
    Senior National fourth place: Aliaksandr Kikiniou
    Senior National fifth place (87 kg): Terrance Zaleski
    2024 Armed Forces runner-up: Vincent Dolce
    Last Chance Qualifier champion: Tyler Eischens
    Even though he was a Junior World Champion in 2017 and seen as the future of US Greco-Roman, Kamal Bey is still seeking to make his first Olympic team in 2024. Bey missed the 2020(1) Trials after a USADA sanction for three missed tests. Bey returned to make the world team in both 2022 and 2023, but has yet to earn a world medal on the Senior level. He’ll hold the top seed and remains a favorite despite having a solid group of competitors behind him. 
    The winner of the 2020(1) Trials was Jesse Porter, who was considered a longshot at the time. Porter proved it was no fluke by earning a spot on the 2021 World Team and had previously been a part of three U23 squads. He could be a dangerous #6 seed. 
    Meeting Porter in the semifinals is Bey’s 2023 Final X opponent Aliaksandr Kikiniou. Kikiniou made an excellent run to the 2023 US Open finals by defeating past world team member RaVaughn Perkins in the quarterfinals, before running into Bey. 
    Senior National results played a significant role in seeding as Benji Peak got the second seed after defeating Kikiniou in the semifinals. Prior to that Kikiniou teched Danny Braunagel. They’ll assume the #2, #3, and #5 seeds respectively. 
    The fourth seed is Perkins who fell to Kikiniou in the semifinals of the 2024 World Team Trials. At Final X, Perkins defeated Payton Jacobson for true-third place and a slot on the national team. A fixture on the Greco scene for a decade, Perkins was a world team member back in 2018. 
    Though he had to get in through the Last Chance Qualifier, Tyler Eischens has plenty of experience and could be a factor as the seventh seed. The former Stanford and North Carolina national qualifier had made a U23 and U20 world team. 
    Prediction: Kamal Bey over Benji Peak

    Earl Smith -

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    The 2024 EIWA Postseason - By the Numbers

    These are just some random tidbits, stats, and miscellaneous items from NCAAs. They are in no particular order. As a bonus, we will dive into the numbers of the Ivy League compared to the remainder of the EIWA. 
    Ivy League vs EIWA
    It’s been mentioned already, but the EIWA qualified 62 participants. With an injury withdrawal the day before action began, the final count of participants was 61. This broke down to 28 Ivy League wrestlers (46%) and 33 for other EIWA schools (54%). If we look at the All-Americans for each – we see an almost even split. The Ivies had 4 AAs – which is 14% of the wrestlers competing for Ivy schools. The EIWA saw 5 AAs, good for 15% of their competitors. The math shows the split between Ivies and the EIWA was somewhat even across the board in terms of qualifiers and place finishers – although the number of Ivy schools is 6 – while the remainder of the EIWA has 11 schools. 
    Diving a little deeper, we can see the Ivy’s four All-Americans came from two schools. Cornell had 3, while Columbia had 1. The EIWA’s 5 AAs were from 3 schools. Lehigh claimed three AAs, while Navy and Army each had one. Lehigh and Cornell each claimed 33% of the AAs in the conference. Cornell’s output was higher with one champion, and a 3rd and 4th place finish. Lehigh’s finishes were 3rd, 5th, and 8th. 
    Below is a countdown (… or count-up?) of some random accomplishments, facts, and other occurrences associated with each number. We look at some historical data, and some potential future statistics to help align with the numbers. I know it’s a few weeks after NCAAs, but it’s a great reminder of the historical season the EIWA had. 
    1. James Conway wins Elite 90 Award for Men’s Wrestling
    James Conway of Franklin & Marshall may not have achieved his goal of becoming an All-American. The 184lber walked away with hardware anyway. He was the recipient of the Elite 90 Award at this year’s NCAA Tournament. This is an incredible achievement, as the wrestler with the highest GPA is awarded the honor. His 3.98 GPA is more impressive as he is a Biochemistry major, with a minor in Spanish. He finished the year with 30 wins – making his career number of wins 73. 
    2. All Americans seeded outside the top 16 
    Two of this year’s All-Americans may have been surprising when looking at the seeds they received before the event began. Army’s Ben Pasuik was the 18th seed – which was the 5th lowest seed to All-American in the entire tournament. David Key of Navy was the 25th-seeded wrestler in his bracket. Both wrestlers walked away with an 8th-place finish. Key’s seed was the second lowest to place. Minnesota’s Vombur was the 26th seed at 141 lbs. This is why this tournament is so great – anyone can earn it! 
    On the flip side of this topic, there were nine wrestlers with top 5 seeds who failed to place. Unfortunately, the EIWA also had a three seed that missed the podium - Julian Ramirez of Cornell and two wrestlers seeded fifth that failed to place – Phil Conigliaro of Harvard and Nathan Taylor of Lehigh. 
    3. Head Coaches who coached All-Americans for the first time as head coaches at their program. 
    There was quite some history achieved at this season’s NCAA tournament. Columbia, Army, and Navy each had All-Americans for the first time in a while. To recap - Lennox Wolak from Columbia University was the first AA since Steve Santos in 2013. Ben Pasiuk of Army was the first to represent Army on the podium since Matt Kyler in 2008. Navy’s David Key was the first Midshipman since Mathew Miller in 2016 to be named an All-American. 
    Coincidentally, all three of these school’s head coaches had the privilege to coach their first All-American while at the helm. To give an idea of how long it took each coach to achieve this – Zach Tanelli took over at Columbia in 2016, Kevin Ward was named head coach at Army in 2014, and Cary Kolat took control of Navy in 2020. Congratulations to all three coaches! We all know this is the first of many All-Americans they will coach. 
    4. EIWA teams with 1 qualifier
    Hofstra, Brown, American, and LIU each had one NCAA qualifier this season. Hofstra’s Keaton Kluever made his NCAA championship debut for the Pride after transferring into the program this off-season. American's Max Leete was a first-time qualifier for the event as well at 133 lbs. Brown’s Michael Joyce was the first qualifier for the program since 2019. Interestingly, no current wrestlers on the roster were on the team the last time this happened. And, as we already know, LIU’s first qualifier at the D1 level was Anthony D’Alesio at 184lbs. D’Alesio was the only wrestler mentioned to earn a win at NCAAs. This makes him the first LIU Shark to win a DI match at nationals in history. It’s great to see more history being made! 
    5. “Bloodround” finishers return next year 
    The EIWA had a total of six losses in the infamous round of 12, or Bloodround. This is the round in the consolation bracket where a win makes you an All-American, and a loss sends you home empty-handed. It is the quintessential “all or nothing” round in the NCAA wrestling tournament. The five returning wrestlers fitting this category are Kurt Phipps (Bucknell), Josh Koderhandt (Navy), Julian Ramirez (Cornell), Chris Foca (Cornell), and Nathan Taylor (Lehigh). They will return next season to earn a shot at making the podium.
    Lou DePrez of Binghamton ended his career with a loss in this round. He was a victim of this once before as well. He ends his career as a two-time All-American. Cornell’s Julian Ramirez has lost in this round three years in a row now – putting him in rare, but unfortunate company. Another interesting tidbit is that the EIWA had three former All-Americans who did not repeat as AAs this year. Foca and DePrez were two of them and the third one was CJ Composto of Penn. Composto will have two more seasons to return to the podium. 
    6. Vito Arujau becomes the 6th multiple-time NCAA Champion in Cornell history
    With the rich history of Cornell wrestling over many decades, Vito joins elite company. We all know Kyle Dake and Yianni Diakomihalis each won four NCAA titles. Vito joins Dave Auble, Gabe Dean, and Travis Lee as two-time NCAA Champions. Vito’s efforts helped contribute to a 3rd and 2nd place team finish for the Big Red during his two championship seasons. Of the 6 names listed, only Dake and Auble have competed at the Olympic games after college. Yianni and perhaps Vito, in the future, will look to join these two with that accomplishment. 
    7. Crookham and Stanich on pace to be 4X EIWA champs – 6th and 7th in Lehigh history
    With Luke Stanich and Ryan Crookham winning EIWA titles as freshmen, they are on pace to win four conference titles. They would become the 6th and 7th wrestlers in Lehigh history to achieve this. Mark Lieberman (’79), Mike Brown (’80), Colin Kilrain (82’), and Darryl Burley (’83) were the first to achieve this feat. Interestingly, they were all on the same team at one point. The latest wrestler to earn 4 EIWA titles was Jordan Wood when he won in 2021. Due to COVID, he earned another shot at a title in 2022 and became the only 5X EIWA champ in history – a record that may never be broken. For what it’s worth – there have been 14 total wrestlers to claim four EIWA titles. 
    Stanich and Crookham can join an even smaller group of wrestlers who earned NCAA All-American status four times at Lehigh. Only Burley and Brown have done this as Mountain Hawks. 
    Another historical statistic using the number 7 is that 7 current EIWA teams have claimed an EIWA team title in the conference’s history. These teams (and number of titles) are Lehigh (38), Cornell (28), Navy (13), Penn (4), Princeton (3), Army (1), and Harvard (1). 
    8. 4X national qualifiers
    This was already briefly discussed But a noteworthy achievement is worth mentioning again. The EIWA saw eight wrestlers who have qualified for NCAAs at least 4 times compete in Kansas City. Vito Arujau, Malyke Hines, Phil Conigliaro, Jacob Nolan, Ben Pasiuk, Cole Urbas, and Michael Colaiocco all qualified to compete at NCAAs for the fourth time. Lou DePrez was one of the handful of wrestlers in the country to compete at his 5th NCAA Championships. This season, only Vito and Pasiuk achieved All-American status from this group. DePrez has been an AA in the past but fell one win short this season. Malyke Hines is the lone wrestler on this list with another year of eligibility to also become a 5X qualifier. 
    9. All Americans from the EIWA
    The 9 All-Americans this season are more than in previous years. During the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the conference walked away with 7 All-Americans. Looking back over the past decade, the conference saw more AAs in 2019 and 2016 when there were 10 total. The most conference All-Americans since 2000 occurred in 2011 when the EIWA had 15. During that year, Cornell Head Coach, Mike Grey, was 6th at 133lbs. Also, current assistant at Lehigh, Zach Rey, won a title at Heavyweight for them. 
    Crookham, Shapiro, Stanich, and Beard all return next year to the EIWA. Wolak and Cardenas are both out of eligibility in the Ivy League and will find homes elsewhere. Wolak has already committed to Virginia Tech while Cardenas is headed to Michigan. 
    Congratulations to the 9 EIWA All-Americans below. 
    Vito Arujau, Cornell – Champion @ 133lbs
    Ryan Crookham, Lehigh – 3rd @ 133lbs
    Meyer Shapiro, Cornell – 3rd @ 157lbs
    Jacob Cardenas, Cornell – 4th @ 197lbs
    Luke Stanich, Lehigh – 5th @ 125lbs 
    Lennox Wolak, Columbia, 6th @ 174lbs
    Ben Pasuik, Army – 8th @ 174lbs
    David Key, Navy – 8th @ 184lbs
    Michael Beard, Lehigh – 8th @ 197lbs
    10 NCAA Qualifiers for Cornell 
    Cornell qualified all 10 wrestlers. As we know, Vince Cornella had to withdraw the night before due to injury. With nine competing, The Big Red walked away with a second-place trophy with only three All-Americans. It’s a rare feat to achieve with a handful of AAs, so Cornell’s bonus points pushed them into the top two. 19.5 of the team’s 72.5 points were from bonus. If the team would not have had any bonus victories, they would have earned just 11th place. Even one less pin would have dropped them into 3rd place. The team showed up this year and proved that sometimes quality is better than quantity. Next year’s line-up will need to replace Vito Arujau and Jacob Cardenas’s combined 39.5 points in order to match this year’s total. Meyer Shapiro’s 21 points is the highest total to return to the line-up next season. 
    Off-Season Scuttlebutt
    Transfer portals, coaching changes, and all of the off-season chatter has already begun – and it’s only April! Let’s start with the divisive transfer portal. 
    A vast majority of the transfers below are graduate students looking to complete their final year of eligibility. As a reminder, the Ivy League’s eligibility rules are different from the NCAAs. The extra COVID year all athletes received is why you are seeing many of these “transfers.” In reality, these guys have no more eligibility in the Ivy League. Plus, graduate students are not allowed to compete in athletics at an Ivy League institution. This is why many of these athletes are transferring to larger conferences. And, it is worth mentioning, that NIL had some part to play. Larger schools with more NIL funding can afford to pay athletes handsomely, which is unlike smaller schools in the EIWA. 
    Jacob Cardenas may be the biggest name to leave the EIWA. The 2X All-American from Cornell will be attending Michigan next season. Michigan has been notorious for reloading via the portal. Cardenas will slide in nicely and help the Wolverines compete for a trophy next season.
     Wolak of Columbia was an All-American at 174lbs. The EIWA champion was an NCAA semi-finalist before finishing in 6th place. Next season, he will be at Virginia Tech in the ACC. The Hokies are a solid top-10 tram every season. Wolak will be replacing NCAA Champion, and multiple-time AA, Mekhi Lewis. Wolak will be a great addition to the lineup.
    Another Columbia standout will be on the move to the ACC. Josh Ogunsanya will take his talents to North Carolina to pursue his graduate degree. The 165-pound wrestler has placed at EIWAs multiple times. He’s been plagued by injuries, so he may be a little under the radar for some. He’s an uber-talented wrestler with lightning-quick speed. It will be fun to see him compete again once healthy for the Tar Heels. 
    Connor McGonagle of Lehigh was in the portal. He has visited some Big12 and ACC schools. He ultimately chose Virginia Tech. He will find himself at 133lbs with multiple-time All-American Sam Latona. 
    One of them will make the move up to 141lbs for the Hokies – which fills a potential hole in the line-up. 
    Dorian Crosby of Bucknell was looking for another place to call home. The 2024 EIWA runner-up is heading to Gannon, a D2 school in Erie, PA. He was looking to return to his hometown of Erie to further his education and use his last year of eligibility. 
    There is a list of quality wrestlers in the portal looking for a home. 
    Max Hale of Penn is in the portal as well. He was an NCAA qualifier this season for the Quakers. He was ranked inside the top 20 and should be a great option at 184lbs for wherever he ends up.
    Columbia’s Kyle Mosher came onto the scene later in the season, as he replaced the injured Josh Ogunsanya at 165lbs. He is looking to use his final year of NCAA eligibility. 
    There were some coaching changes as well. The big news out of the conference was the addition of Matt Valenti to the Penn coaching staff. Valenti was a two-time NCAA champion for the Quakers when he graduated in 2007. He had a few coaching stints at Columbia and Penn before ending his way back into an admin role at Penn in 2015. He has been in various roles since then. He will assume the head coaching role after the 2025-26 season. Roger Reina will retire at that time. 
    Cody Brewer is another national champion taking a coaching position in the conference. He will join Princeton as the Head Assistant Coach. As a wrestler, he won an NCAA title for Oklahoma in 2015 at 133 lbs while claiming four All-American honors. He spent a few years on staff with Northwestern before playing a key role as an assistant with Virginia Tech. Expect him to make a big impact early.
    A familiar face was named to the coaching staff at Binghamton again. Lou DePrez took a coaching role at the beginning of last season. He left that after the first semester to wrestle one more semester due to a medical hardship granting him one more go-around. He wrestled to a top-12 finish, just missing the All-American podium. He remains the best wrestler in Binghamton history when looking at nearly every stat. 
    Speaking of Binghamton, they do have a head assistant type of position open. This would be a great opportunity for a coach with some recruiting experience. Binghamton is one of the steadily improving programs in the conference. I am anxious to see who lands in this role. 
    Princeton has some other positions to fill as well, in addition to Brewer. Be on the lookout for at least one announcement this week. But, in total, two positions will be filled this off-season. The likelihood of these hires contributing to the carousel is very high. 
    BONUS TEASER: There will be a major coaching change announcement early this week. Once this is publicly announced, it will most likely begin a coaching carousel that will keep us entertained for much of the off-season. This is not related to any of the above changes/open positions. Keep your eyes peeled on social media and the forums this week - You will not want to miss it! 

    Austin Sommer -

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    2024 Women's Nationals Collegiate Recap

    Anaya Falcon photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
    Just over a month after the conclusion of the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling season, many athletes showed out to claim a World Team spot at Nationals this past weekend. In addition to current collegiate athletes, many commits also competed and gave fans a glimpse at the talent they will be bringing to college lineups in seasons to come. For this overview, I will be focusing on U20 and U23 results.
    U20 Women’s Nationals
    In the finals at 50kg, future Life Running Eagle, Anaya Falcon, got two dominant wins over Iowa’s Nyla Valencia in their best-of-three series. Valencia was a runner-up at U20s last season wrestling unattached. Falcon is continually ranked in the top 25 pound-for-pound for her class and is a 3x California state champ. She will certainly be an exciting addition to Life’s roster.
    Iowa’s first champ of the day was Brianna Gonzalez at 53kg. Gonzalez was the runner-up at NCWWCs this season after losing the finals match to Felicity Taylor. Gonzalez secured her top spot here with several dominant wins including two tech falls over King commit Clare Booe. Booe will be an immediate impact athlete for the King team with two Fargo titles, a Super 32 championship finish, and a first-place finish at last season's East Stroudsburg Open as a high school senior.
    This season’s NAIA National Champ Cristelle Rodriguez of Doane put on another dominant performance at Nationals, winning her final series with two pins in under three minutes total.
    Lexi Janiak of Aurora claimed the top spot at 59 kg over 2023 Fargo Champion Aubre Krazer with an 11-0 first match, and a closer 8-4 decision win in their second bout. Janiak finished third at NCWWCs this past season and is a 2023 U20 Bronze Medalist. 
    62kg had one of the tightest matchups, with future Iowa Hawkeye Cadence Diduch dropping the first match to Skylar Hattendorf. However, match two was a shutout for Diduch. In the final bout, Diduch was able to hang on to a 2-1 lead to claim the top spot. Diduch is a three-time Fargo Champ and really showed some of the grittiness that the Hawkeyes team is already starting to be known for in this tournament. 
    Sticking with Iowa’s team for the 65kg finals, we saw two Hawkeyes competing for the spot with Reese Larramendy coming out victorious over redshirt freshman Ella Schmit. The two actually both competed at U20s last season as well and while the two did not cross paths in that tournament, Schmit finished in second with Larramendy claiming the third place spot. The two wrestled one other time this past season at the Indiana Tech Warrior Open with Larramendy also getting the decision win in that matchup.
    Southern Oregon’s 2024 National Champ Caitlyn Davis showed out again here to claim 1st place at 68kg. Davis beat out McKendree’s Destiny Rodriguez in two matches. In the first, Davis was able to shut down everything from Rodriguez to get a 9-0 decision. In the second, Rodriguez kept it a bit closer, but it was still Davis with the 4-1 decision.
    Shannon Workinger of Menlo made an appearance in the finals at 72kg, improving on her fifth-place finish from last season. Unfortunately, she fell short in her matchup to Jasmine Robinson who was the champ in the U23 division as well.
    Finally, at 76kg Iowa fans have another exciting wrestler to cheer for as Naomi Simon, who committed to Iowa earlier this season, gets two tech fall victories to claim the top spot over Menlo’s Kalili Shrive. Simon is also a 2023 Fargo champ and will fit right into the Iowa roster given the huge 4-point move she hit on the edge of her second match here.
    U20 Women’s Final Results
    50 kg: Anaya Falcon (Life Commit) over Nyla Valencia (Iowa)  14-6, 10-0
    53 kg: Brianna Gonzalez (Iowa) over Clare Booe (King Commit)  6-7, 10-0, 12-2
    55 kg: Cristelle Rodriguez (Doane) over Zao Estrada, Fall 1:25, Fall :55
    57 kg: Carissa Qureshi (CA) over Everest Leydecker (AZ) 6-6, 14-1
    59 kg: Alexis Janiak (Aurora) over Aubre Krazer (PA) 11-0, 8-4
    62 kg: Cadence Diduch (Iowa Commit) over Skylar Hattendorf (NH) 0-10, 6-0, 2-1
    65 kg: Reese Larramendy (Iowa) over Ella Schmit (Iowa)  12-1, 10-0
    68 kg: Caitlyn Davis (Southern Oregon) over Destiny Rodriguez (McKendree)  9-0, 4-1
    72 kg: Jasmine Robinson (TX) over Shannon Workinger (Menlo)  Fall :54, 13-2
    76 kg: Naomi Simon (Iowa Commit) over Kalila Shrive (Menlo)  14-3, 12-0
     
    U23 Women’s Final Results
    At U23s, several current collegiate wrestlers made their way to the finals, including a few rematches from the collegiate season.
    Starting at 50kg, Iowa’s Sterling Dias finished in second place, dropping both matches to Heather Crull, a U17 Bronze Medalist, who also competed in the U23 division this weekend. Dias finished 2nd at NCWWCs this season and continues to show out in both domestic and international competitions for the Hawkeyes.
    At 53kg, North Central’s Jaslynn Gallegos gave up a late fall to Elena Ivaldi after being up 10-2 earlier in the match, and lost another early lead in the 10-6 decision loss in their second match. Gallegos finished in 5th at NCWWCs to help the Cardinals to a runner-up finish at NCWWCs for her senior season.
    55kg was a rematch from this season’s NCWWC semifinals between Amani Jones of North Central and Montana Delawder of King. While Jones got a pin in that match earlier this season, Delawder kept it closer here. Jones still had the more dominant offense and won that matches 5-1 and 8-1 respectively. 
    At 59kg, Central Methodist’s Skye Realin won the three-bout battle over Yele Aycock of North Central. Realin won a back-and-forth match 9-5 with Aycock claiming the second 5-3. In the third, Realin struck first, but Aycock rallied back with two pushouts of her own. At the very end of the period, the call on the mat was a takedown on the edge for Aycock, but Realin’s corner challenged for a push-out point instead and the call was reversed after review. Realin started her collegiate career at McKendree before transferring to Central Methodist, and was not a starter for the Eagles, but did compete at a few open tournaments. Aycock is a 2x All-American and 2x NCWWC finalist for the Cardinals.
    Adaugo Nwachukwu is considered the best pound-for-pound collegiate wrestler and she showed her dominance here in this tournament as well, giving up one point the entire weekend while scoring 65 to win the title at 62kg. As a champ for William Penn this past season, she also has the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Trials next weekend. In post-match interviews, Nwachukwu discussed using this opportunity to prepare even further for the trials, which is her ultimate goal.
    In another NCWWC semifinal rematch, Aine Drury of King met up with Alara Boyd of North Central. Similar to their prior match, Drury was able to get the two close decisions 6-1 and 5-3 respectively to win here. Boyd competed as a graduate student last season, and I am unsure about remaining eligibility or her desire to use it if she has it here. Boyd was also a 4x age-group World Team member prior to this season. Drury was in her junior season last year and should be back to try again for the top spot at NCWWCs after finishing in second this past season.
    68kg was a battle of the Auggies with former Augsburg wrestler Brooklyn Hays taking on current Auggie and, the winningest wrestler in school history Nina Makem, who is coming off an All-American eighth-place finish. Makem took the first bout, winning a 3-2 decision. However, it seemed as though Hays figured things out by their next match, scoring a few times on her offense before getting a late pin. The 3rd match was all Hays as well, capping it off with another pin. A viral clip of the two shows Hays raising Makem’s hand after the match and the two hugging after what was a very exciting back and forth.
    Finally, at 76kg, McKendree’s Tristan Kelly, who finished third at NCWWCs for the Bearcats this season, made quick work of her finals opponent, Bo Giebe, with 2 pins in under 2 minutes. Giebe wrestles for Sienna Heights and was the school’s first NAIA All-American for women’s wrestling after her 5th-place finish last season.
    50 kg: Heather Crull (IN) over Sterling Dias (Iowa)  10-3, 10-0
    53 kg: Elena Ivaldi (CA) over Jaslynn Gallegos (North Central)  Fall 5:18 10-6
    55 kg: Amani Jones (North Central) over Montana DeLawder (King) 5-1, 8-1
    57 kg: Sofia Macaluso (NY) over Carissa Qureshi (CA) Fall 5:31, Fall 4:36
    59 kg: Skye Realin (Central Methodist) over Yele Aycock (North Central)  9-5, 3-5, 3-2
    62 kg: Adaugo Nwachukwu (William Penn) over Marisol Nugent (MA) 8-1, 12-0
    65 kg: Aine Drury (King) over Alara Boyd (North Central)  6-1, 5-3
    68 kg: Brooklyn Hays (UT) over Nina Makem (Augsburg)  2-3, Fall 5:12, Fall 3:49
    72 kg: Jasmine Robinson (TX) over London Houston (North Central)  Injury Default
    76 kg: Tristan Kelly (McKendree) over Bo Geibe (Siena Heights)  Fall :34, Fall 1:00
    Olympic Team Trials take place this coming weekend beginning April 19. Many collegiate wrestlers will be competing for those spots as well.

    Morgan Hackney -

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