(Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
This Friday, many of the top stars in the women's freestyle world will be in action from Coralville, Iowa, as 2021 Senior Nationals takes place. The entire women's tournament will be held on Friday. Even though the Olympics will be held later this summer, there will also be a World Championship event from Oslo, Norway, in early October. This event is the first step towards qualification for the World Championships. The top-five wrestlers from Senior Nationals will lock up a place at the World Team Trials in September. Anyone who competed at the Olympic Trials already has punched their ticket, as well.
With the Olympics only having six weight classes (boo!), plenty of women had to make significant cuts to find a weight class. Now that we're focusing on the World Championships, with ten weight classes in contention, there are plenty of women that will be testing out new weight classes in Coralville. We even have one Olympian (Jacarra Winchester) slated to wrestle above her Olympic weight.
Here is a preview of the action that will go down on Friday, along with picks for the top-two finishers. Entries are as of Tuesday afternoon and could be subject to change.
Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids)
Alleida Martinez (TMWC)
Erin Golston (New York AC)
Hannah Michael (Twin Cities RTC)
Natalie Reyna-Rodriguez (McKendree Bearcat WC)
Chloe Krebsbach (Grand View WC)
The two favorites at this opening weight class are Alyssa Lampe and Erin Golston. Lampe made the National Team by winning a true-third place match at the Olympic Trials. Along the way, the two-time World bronze medalist pinned two of the top contenders at this weight, Golston and Alleida Martinez. Earlier this year, at the Captain's Cup, Lampe registered another win over Golston, 9-3. Golston won three matches at the Trials, but is still seeking to make her first World team at the Senior level. As a Junior, Golston captured a World silver medal and two bronzes. Martinez also has an impressive resume at the age-group level. She was a Cadet World silver and bronze medalist and competed on a pair of Junior teams. In the collegiate ranks, Natalie Reyna-Rodriguez was a third-place finisher this year at the NCWWC Championships.
Alyssa Lampe over Erin Golston
Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids)
Alex Hedrick (TMWC)
Arelys Valles (Grand View WC)
A pair of women who have some international experience under their belt in Alisha Howk and Alex Hedrick should be the favorites in this small weight class. Hedrick has made a pair of Junior World Teams, while Howk has done so once as a Cadet and another time as a Junior. Each won three bouts at the Olympic Trials, at this weight class, but did not meet up. They hit at the Captain's Cup, earlier this year, and the bout went to Hedrick, 5-1. A pair of collegiate All-Americans will round out the weight with Vanessa Ramirez and Arelys Valles. Ramirez was fifth at the WCWA's in 2019, while Valles placed twice for University of The Cumberlands in 2015 and 2018.
Alex Hedrick over Alisha Howk
Amy Fearnside (TMWC)
Jacarra Winchester (TMWC)
Areana Villaescusa (Army WCAP)
Estrella Dorado Marin (Army WCAP)
Samantha Klingel (Army WCAP)
The most significant favorite at any women's weight this tournament will be Jacarra Winchester at 55 kg. Just a few weeks ago, Winchester secured a berth on the Olympic team by downing Ronna Heaton two-matches-to-none in their series at 53 kg. Winchester should have no problem up a couple of kilos as she won her 2019 world title in this class. While Winchester is a prohibitive favorite, there are a few other highly capable contenders in the bracket. Amy Fearnside competed in the Olympic Trials at 50 kg and has bumped up for the Open. She was a finalist in the Challenge Tournament at the Trials after pinning 2019 World Team member, Whitney Conder. Areana Villaescusa went 1-2 at the Trials, at 53 kg, and is a familiar face for Winchester. The two tangled in the 2019 US Open finals, a match Jacarra won by technical superiority. Samantha Klingel was a national champion for King University in 2016, while Estrella Dorado Marin was a two-time Fargo All-American.
Jacarra Winchester over Amy Fearnside
Vayle Baker (Twin Cities RTC)
Gabrielle Skidmore (Twin Cities RTC)
Tateum Park (Twin Cities RTC)
This weight class could be the most up-for-grabs on the women's side. There is a whole lot of familiarity between the competitors. Three women train at Augsburg's Twin Cities RTC, while Vayle Baker and Sophia Smith were high school teammates at Wyoming Seminary. The two renewed acquaintances at the Last Chance Qualifier and Smith got her hand raised after a 10-0 tech. Baker was a WCWA national runner-up in 2020, as was her teammate Gabrielle Skidmore. At the Last Chance Qualifier, Skidmore split matches with two-time WCWA All-American Lauren Mason. Mason finished third in the tournament and had the opportunity to wrestle for true second. Tateum Park was Iowa's Ms. Dan Gable Wrestler of the Year in 2020, before enrolling at Augsburg.
Lauren Mason over Gabrielle Skidmore
Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Rise RTC)
Maya Nelson (Sunkist Kids)
Megan Black (Army WCAP)
59 kg could be the place with one of the best matches in the entire tournament. That is provided Xochitl Mota-Pettis and Maya Nelson both make the finals. Both are moving to 59 kgs after competing at a different weight during the Trials. Mota-Pettis was down at 57 kg, while Nelson was at 62 kg. Nelson is a two-time Junior World medalist, taking the bronze in 2016; before winning the whole tournament a year later. She also has made a pair of U23 teams. Mota-Pettis is typically a lock to put up a handful of points and is dangerous from any position. She outscored the competition at the Last Chance Qualifier 44-2. Two-time WCWA runner-up, Megan Black, could also make an impact. She earned a pair of wins at the Last Chance Qualifier, but was ultimately stopped short of earning a place at the Trials. Briana Kellin was an NAIA All-American this year at Life, but has spent the bulk of her career wrestling for King.
Maya Nelson over Xochitl Mota-Pettis
Sierra Brown Ton (Twin Cities RTC)
Gracie Figueroa (TMWC)
Alex Liles (Army WCAP)
Andrea Schlabach (Grand View WC)
The two favorites at 62 kg are Gracie Figueroa and Alex Liles. Both have plenty of international experience on the age-group level. Figueroa has made three Cadet and two Junior world teams. In 2016, she was able to come away from Cadet Worlds with a bronze medal. Additionally, she was a WCWA national champion as a freshman at Menlo in 2019. Liles earned a spot on two Cadet World Teams and one Junior squad. She also has a pair of silver medals from the Dave Schultz and the Bill Farrell. These two met in the semifinals of the Last Chance Qualifier and it was Liles who grabbed a 5-3 win. The remainder of the weight class is rounded out by Andrea Schlabach and Sierra Brown Ton. Schlabach was a third-place finisher at NAIA's this year, as a sophomore. Brown Ton was a WCWA All-American in 2019, as a true freshman, for Colorado Mesa, but has since transferred to Augsburg. She entered the Last Chance Qualifier and notched a 2-2 record.
Pick: Alex Liles over Gracie Figueroa
Jennifer Page (TMWC)
Obviously, with just two entries at this weight class, 65 kg should be easy to break down. Since action started again in 2020, Jennifer Page has been very active on Nittany Lion Wrestling Card's and in tournament action. Page was third in the Challenge Tournament at the Olympic Trials and, in late-2020, won Senior Nationals. At Senior's, she scored a win over eventual Olympic Trials runner-up, Macey Kilty. Zoe Wight is a graduate assistant at Life University, where she competed collegiately and twice made the WCWA Round of 12.
Jennifer Page over Zoe Wight
Alyvia Fiske (TMWC)
Rachel Watters (New York AC)
Solin Pearcy (Menlo WC)
A solid group of experienced, young women will take the stage at 68 kg. One of the contenders is Alyvia Fiske, the 2019 US Open Champion at 72 kg and a Final X participant later that summer. Also that year, Fiske was third at WCWA's for Simon Fraser. Most probably pegged Fiske as someone who'd emerge from the Last Chance Qualifier to grab a spot at the Trials. She picked up a couple of wins before getting upset in the finals by high schooler, Kylie Welker. Since Welker ended up making the finals at 76 kg, that doesn't look like a bad loss. She was eliminated from the tournament in her next bout against Solin Pearcy. Pearcy was a 2019 WCWA national champion for Menlo and medaled three times at the event. Another collegiate national title-winner is in the group with Rachel Watters. Rachel also got on the podium two other times for Oklahoma City. Watters has made three Junior World Teams and a pair of U23 World Teams during her decorated career. In 2020, she was third at Senior Nationals and then competed at the Olympic Trials earlier this month. Finally, Anna Naylor was a two-time AA for University of The Cumberlands and is now an assistant at Life.
Alyvia Fiske over Solin Pearcy
Skylar Grote (New York AC)
Alex Glaude (TMWC)
It's pretty cut-and-dry what we have going on at 72 kg with Skylar Grote and Alex Glaude, but it should be a solid matchup. Glaude was a two-time national champion for McKendree and earned a spot in Final X 2019. She was third at the Olympic Trials Challenge Tournament but dropped a match to Forrest Molinari for a berth on the National Team. Glaude has plenty of international experience, as she was a Junior World Team member in 2017 and a U23 World bronze medalist two years later. Grote was a second-place finisher at Senior Nationals and 2020 and the top seed at the Last Chance Qualifier. There she notched a win over Pearcy before running into phenom Kennedy Blades.
Alex Glaude over Skylar Grote
Marylnn Deede (Twin Cities RTC)
Dymond Guilford (TMWC)
Precious Bell (TMWC)
Hunter Robinson (Grand View WC)
Ashley Lekas (Texas Pride)
We've got one of the larger weights, in terms of participants, at 76 kg. The headliners are high school teammates Dymond Guilford and Precious Bell. The pair meet quite frequently with the last time coming at the Olympic Trials, where Guilford prevailed 14-1 in the consolations of the Challenge Tournament. Recently she also got the upper hand at the Captain's Cup, in the finals of 2020 U23's, and at Senior Nationals last year. Guilford was a Junior World Team member in 2018. Bell won the US Open in 2019 and then the World Team Trials, the same year, ensuring her a place in Final X, opposite Adeline Gray. If anyone may spoil another Guilford/Bell matchup, it could be 2016 Cadet World Team member Emily Cue. Emily also was a third-place finisher for Simon Fraser at the 2020 NCWWC Championships. Also in the field is Hunter Robinson and Ashley Lekas. Robinson was a fourth-place finisher at the 2021 NAIA National Championships for Grand View, while Lekas was a 2019 Texas state champion.
Dymond Guilford over Precious Bell