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  • Photo: Menlo Athletics

    Photo: Menlo Athletics

    This Week in Women's Collegiate Wrestling (2/7/2024)

    This Week in Women’s Wrestling (January 30 - February 5)

    Key Takeaways from the week

    As teams begin winding down their duals before regionals begin, there are some exciting matchups and a good look at how starters will look against top-rated opponents at Nationals.

    1. The University of the Cumberlands keeps it close with Life

    In one of the more exciting ranked dual matchups left this season, the University of the Cumberlands walked away with a few match wins, but couldn’t keep up with the Running Eagles. 

    The Patriots started with a big win from #5 Elizabeth Dosado getting the pin over #10 Devyn Gomez. Life’s #4 Diana Gonzalez took care of business at 109 lbs, after giving up the first pushout point to #11 Gracie Elliot, she turned up the offense and got the 10-3 decision. 

    Next, in one of the closest ranked matchups of the night, the points were flying between #6 Presley Anderson for Cumberlands against #9 Ariana Martinez. Anderson scored an early four-point takedown, followed by two unanswered takedowns to go up 8-0 in the first. In the second, Martinez gets a similar set of moves herself to tie things up. With little time remaining, Anderson finds her move and secures the 10-8 win. 

    Life takes the next two weights with big pins from #6 Anna Krejsa and #10 Riley Dalrymple. At 136 lbs, we saw #19 Angie Prado take on an unranked opponent and get the pin for the Running Eagles. The McBryde sisters then competed in their usual order, but all up a weight class for this dual. While #5 Zaynah McBryde was wrestling tough against #6 Micah Fisher and went up by eight points early, Fisher got a takedown of her own to make it 8-2 going into the second. Fisher then hit a big move that landed McBryde on her back as she worked for the pin to bring the team score for the Patriots just two points shy of the Running Eagles. However, as we have seen consistently this season, the latter half of the Life lineup is a tough matchup for even the most talented teams. #5 Jamilah McBryde got a pin against her opponent, #2 Latifah followed it up with a tech and #7 Madeline Welch closed out the dual with a 6-3 upset win over #6 MaQuoia Bernabe. 

    Life has had dominant dual results this season, but a few upsets with certain team members at tournaments. However, I think that is a reflection of their rigorous schedule that often has them competing against schools in other divisions and therefore continually wrestling top-ranked opponents. As they begin regional and then national competition, I think fans will see how Coach Flavin’s approach to finding her team competitive matches throughout the season, will have them well prepared for similar matches they’ll see now at the end of the season.

    2. Grand View Open hosts exciting ranked matchups

    The Grand View Open saw champs from a wide range of schools and RTCs. While not many schools brought their full lineup of ranked competitors, there were still some great matchups. 

    One of the most impressive showings in my opinion was at 101 lbs where #8 (NAIA) Kayla McKinley-Johnson of Menlo took a first-place finish over several ranked opponents. She defeated #12 (NAIA) ranked Jalen Bets of Grand View with a 10-0 tech fall. McKinley-Johnson then had a semifinal matchup against #3 (NAIA) Esther Walker of Midland. McKinley-Johnson was already up 11-2 at the end of the first period. She punched her ticket to the finals with a big four-point takedown to get the 14-2 upset tech. Her finals matchup was no break from tough competition as she faced #4 (NAIA) Alyssa Quezaire of a highly competitive Missouri Baptist team. The match was close throughout the first as the pair exchanged strong moves back and forth, however, McKinley-Johnson really put a definitive stamp on her performance with a second-period pin to claim the top spot. 

    Menlo had a great overall performance on the day, but McKinley-Johnson certainly outwrestled her rank in a dominant fashion, and should be looking to keep up that pace at regionals. 

    Another Menlo performance to mention was from unranked Alexandra Lopez who wrestled back after a first-round loss and went on to beat four ranked wrestlers (#4, #11, #8, and #6) on the consolation side to come back all the way to third place. That is surely the type of performance the Oaks are looking to see out of their team come tournament season. That grittiness on the back side of brackets is what builds up the team points necessary to get a team trophy.

    From Baker University, #7 (NAIA) Katherine Heath's third-place finish, had an impressive third-place finish, especially considering Baker’s limited participation in open tournaments. Heath won four of her five matches at 116 lbs with two upsets against #6 Presley Anderson of the University of the Cumberlands and #4 Alejandra Corral of Menlo. In fact, her only loss on the day was against #3 (at 123 lbs; NCAA) Felicity Taylor. It is also interesting to note Taylor’s change of weight here. Taylor won her four championship titles at 116 lbs for McKendree, and competes at 53kg which is closer to 116 lbs than 123 lbs when she is doing any international competition. This could be a temporary change for this tournament just to get a feel for it, but I will be curious to see if it sticks headed into end-of-season tournaments.

    3. Pan Am Qualifier Results

    Over the weekend, wrestlers competed for three spots to compete at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier at the end of February. College wrestling fans had eyes on the competition at 68kg where two-time World champion Amit Elor was set to compete against 2023 World Team member Emma Bruntil. Bruntil battled injuries during her highly successful college career and had announced late last year that she’d be returning in the new year to finish out her college eligibility at McKendree. However, after weighing in to compete, Bruntil medically defaulted out of the tournament before competing. Elor went on to win the weight over World bronze medalist Mallory Velte and will compete at the Pan Am Qualifier. This does leave a question as to whether Bruntil will be able to return to college wrestling, as she had previously planned, and compete in the remaining season.

    Dom Parrish won the spot to the Qualifier at 53 kg and Kayla Miracle will compete for the U.S. at 62 kg. Pan Ams allows countries to send wrestlers to weights where they have not already qualified a wrestler for the Olympics. The semifinal winners from the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier in each weight class qualify their nation to compete at the Olympic Games at that weight class. Each wrestler the U.S. qualified here has a good chance to dominate Pan Am competition and get one step closer to competing for the U.S. in the Olympic Games in Paris.

    Results this week in major NCAA, NCWA, and NAIA competitions

    January 31: #1 (NCAA) Iowa (39) vs University of Sioux Falls (7)

    January 31: #20 (NAIA) Central Methodist (33) vs William Woods (4)
    February 1: #4 (NCAA) McKendree (38) vs #10 (NAIA) Missouri Baptist (9)

    February 2: #3 (NAIA) Grand View (38) over Avila (9)

    February 3: Grand View Open VIEW BRACKETS


    Upcoming Events:

    February 6: #1 (NCAA) North Central vs #7 (NCAA) Aurora

    February 7: #12 (NAIA) University of the Cumberlands vs #7 (NAIA) Campbellsville

    February 9: #5 (NAIA) Southern Oregon vs #4 (NAIA) University of Providence

    February 10: Life Duals

    February 10: #12 (NAIA) University of the Cumberlands vs Montreat College

    February 10: #6 (NAIA) Texas Wesleyan vs Texas Woman's University

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