King University signee Sage Mortimer (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Wow, what a summer it's been for women's wrestling. Women's Nationals, Fargo, a stunning Olympic performance by Team USA - and suddenly we're just a few weeks away from the World Team Trials. As our post-Olympic withdrawal sets in, it's a good time to look at recruiting classes, as we now know where the top Class of 2021 women stack up. USA Wrestling provided us with their final set of rankings for the season to kick off July, and after taking a look at where each ranked senior will lace up her shoes in the fall, we can assemble recruiting class rankings based on two main factors: quality and quantity.
It's important to note that now that the NAIA, NCAA and NJCAA have each granted emerging sport status to women's wrestling, the days of everyone coming together at the WCWA Championships are behind us. The NAIA schools have their own championship event, while the NCAA schools assemble at the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships, or NCWW. The NJCAA hosted their first championship event in 2021 as well.
We will rank the Top-10 classes across all three organizations, but note for you the school's division. This is important as it makes a big difference particularly in the world of recruiting, where some schools have athletic scholarships to offer while others do not. All NAIA, NCAA Division 1 and Division 2, and select NJCAA schools have the option to offer wrestling scholarships, while NCAA Division 3 institutions do not.
1. King University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 7 Ranked Recruits: Samara Chavez (#1 at 112), Sage Mortimer (#1 at 117), London Houston (#1 at 132), Cheyenne Bowman (#3 at 152) Montana Delawder (#8 at 127), Tiffany Baublitz (#9 at 164) Dianna Holmes (#12 at 112).
King takes the top spot in this year's class because of a mixture of both of our ranking criteria. This class certainly has the quantity a top class needs, with seven ranked wrestlers, but also boasts three #1s, more than any other school in the country. Mortimer and Chavez actually just wrestled each other in the Fargo Junior finals last month, with Mortimer taking the stop sign in a 12-7 victory over her future teammate. Both wrestlers earned a spot on the Junior National team after a 2nd place finish for Chavez, at 50kg, and a 3rd for Mortimer at 53kg at Women's Nationals in May. The two then hit two days later in the U23 bracket at 53kg, where it was Chavez pinning Mortimer in the consolation semis. London Houston is another rising star who opened eyes at Women's Nationals, earning a runner-up finish in the Junior division and a third in the U23 bracket. She represented Team USA at the Junior Pan Ams in June, where she came home with a gold medal, and stormed her way to the Fargo Junior title at 132 pounds last month.
Bowman and Delawder each earned All-American awards at Women's Nationals as well, with Bowman falling in the Junior finals to Amit Elor.
***Editor's Note***: King also will receive transfer Vayle Baker from Augsburg. Baker is a two-time Cadet World Team member, a runner-up at WCWA's, and an All-American at NCWWC's.
2. North Central College (NCAA DIII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 12 Ranked Recruits: Amani Jones (#1 at 122), Traeh Haynes (#2 at 225), Kendra Ryan (#3 at 112), Tiera Jimerson (#5 at 132), Ashley Reed (#8 at 164), Fiona McConnell (#9 at 180), Sara Sulejmani (#11 at 138), Emily Alvis (#13 at 122), Adaugo Nwachukwu (#14 at 127), Sydney Petzinger (#16 at 106), Yele Aycock (#20 at 132), Emma Grimm (#24 at 127).
No scholarships, no problem for Coach Norton and the Cardinals, as they landed a whopping 12 ranked recruits. They win the quantity award, but make no mistake, this class contains some seriously quality wrestlers as well. Amani Jones headlines the class as the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 122 pounds. Jones was a young star winning a Super 32 title in 2018 and a Fargo 16U title in 2019, and recently proved that she can do it at the Junior level as well. She was the runner-up at Women's Nationals in May and brought home a gold medal from the Junior Pan Ams in June. She was fifth at Fargo Juniors last month, dropping a couple matches to wrestlers ranked at 127, butavenging one of them in the fifth place match.
Traeh Haynes won back-to-back state championships in Texas, earning falls in six of her seven state tournament matches. Kendra Ryan had a coming out party at Women's Nationals in May, defeating the wrestlers who took third in both the NCWW and NAIA Championships last season before falling to Chavez in the semifinals - in a match where Ryan held a 9-4 lead before being put to her back and pinned in the second period. Jimerson and Nwachukwu both won California state titles as High School juniors in 2020, and Jimerson was fourth at UWW Juniors in November. Reed made the Fargo Junior finals last month at 164 pounds, where she fell to Kylie Welker. Sulejmani also made the finals at 138, earning her third career runner-up finish in Fargo.
3. Grand View University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 4 Ranked Recruits: Olivia Brown (#1 at 200), Abby McIntyre (#8 at 144), Adrienna Turner (#9 at 127), Madison Diaz (#22 at 152)
A good haul of new Vikings for Coach Crinzi at Grand View. Olivia Brown headlines the class. The Broken Arrow senior did not compete in Fargo this year, but was a Cadet champ in 2018 and third in Juniors the following summer. She also pinned her way to an Oklahoma State Championship in 2020. Diaz and McIntyre both dominated their way to lowa State titles in 2021, the second state championship for McIntyre, who also won a Folkstye National title as a senior. Adrienna Turner has been ranked as high as #1 during her senior season, and just showed out well at Fargo last month, earning All-American honors with a sixth place finish in a loaded bracket.
4. Texas Wesleyan University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 4 Ranked Recruits: Brittyn Corbishley (#2 at 180), Hannah Francis (#2 at 200), Devin Patton (#17 at 127), Aalyah Villareal (#20 at 180)
The young Texas Wesleyan women's program is off to a hot start, and Head Coach Ray Beford is keeping some of the state's best talent home in 2021 to aid their climb up the NAIA ranks. Brittyn Corbishley pinned her way to back-to-back Texas state titles as a junior and senior, and is fresh off a Fargo Junior National Championship, a run which saw her exact revenge on top-ranked Jaycee Foeller, who had pinned her at Junior Duals in Tulsa just one month prior. Hannah Francis is coming off a third place finish at Fargo and also has a win over Foeller in late 2020. Devin Patton was an undefeated state champ in 2020 and a Fargo 16U All-American in 2019.
5. Life University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 5 Ranked Recruits: Salyna Shotwell (#4 at 117), Jaylen Hyman (#7 at 180), Sylvia Pierce (#12 at 138), Emma Burk (#19 at 152), Paige Denke (#23 at 122)
Five ranked recruits headline Life U's 2021 class, with Salyna Shotwell leading the way. Shotwell burst onto the scene when she stormed her way to the finals of the 2020 UWW Junior Nationals last fall in Omaha. The run included a win by fall over Samara Chavez and a narrow 4-2 loss to Emily Shilson in the final. She was also third at Fargo Juniors last month. Hyman, Pierce and Denke each won state championships in their respective states and will look to contribute for the Running Eagles.
6. Augsburg University (NCAA DIII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 3 Ranked Recruits: Katerina Lange (#1 at 144), Nina Makem (#15 at 138), Charlotte Kouyoumtjian (#18 at 122)
We'll see a new Head Coach at Augsburg in former Minnesota wrestler Jake Short, and he will have some new young talent to work with. Katerina Lange was in and out of the rankings during her senior year, but made a statement at Women's Nationals in May. Lange made the finals and even took a match in the 2-of-3 series against McKendree's NCWW National Champion Alara Boyd. She followed that up with a gold medal at the Junior Pan-Ams in June in a dominating performance. She was upset by #3 Destiny Rodriguez in the semifinals at Fargo last month, but bounced back to finish third. Lange was also the UWW Junior Nationals runner-up at 65kg last fall in Omaha. Nina Makem fell short of the podium at Fargo in 2019, but made sure her name was known at the event in 2021. She wrestled to a third place finish this time around, earning an exciting second period fall in the consolation final. Charlotte Kouyoumtjian was a California state runner-up in 2020 and a Fargo 16U All-American in 2019.
7. Tiffin University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 3 Ranked Recruits: Olivia Shore (#3 at 106), Solana Mottola (#7 at 127), Taryn Martin (#10 at 164)
Three top-10 recruits for the Dragons makes for a very strong class in 2021 and an equally strong argument that this ranking could have been moved up a notch. Olivia Shore is a two-time Cadet World Team member, finishing 5th in 2018. She was also a Super 32 champ, two-time Girls State Champ, and placed in the Boys State Tournament this year in Ohio - an amazing accomplishment for the young star. Solana Mottola was third at the California State Tournament in 2020 and Round of 12 at Women's Nationals in May. Taryn Martin won Ohio state titles in her junior and senior year and is fresh off a Fargo Junior runner-up finish last month.
8. Colorado Mesa University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 2 Ranked Recruits: Claire Dicugno (#1 at 127), Jayleen Sekona (#8 at 200)
Just two ranked recruits for Coach Mercado and Colorado Mesa this year, but if the focus was on landing a star, they certainly did so. Claire Dicugno is the headliner here, and as one of the top overall seniors in the class, she gives the Mavericks the nod at #8. She will represent Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia later this summer after winning the 57kg bracket at Women's Nationals in May. She was an undefeated Washington state champion in 2020, after finishing as the runner-up in 2019. Dicugno was also third at Folkstyle Nationals in 2021 and fourth at Fargo Cadets in 2019. Jayleen Sekona was a Fargo and UWW Cadet All-American in 2018 and was the runner-up at Preseason Nationals in 2020.
9. McKendree University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 2 Ranked Recruits: Jaycee Foeller (#1 at 180), Hannah Hall (#4 at 112)
The returning champs in the NCAA division have a small contingent coming in as far as ranked recruits go, but both have performed well on the national stage. Jaycee Foeller is the nation's top-ranked 180 pounder after pinning Brittyn Corbishley at Junior Duals in June, though Corbishley got revenge in the semis at Fargo just last month. Foeller dropped another match on the back side, but finished strong with a win in the fifth place match to earn her 6th Fargo All-American award. She has also dominated the state of Missouri, winning three straight undefeated state championships, pinning her way through the tournament each time. Hannah Hall is a two-time Florida state champion who has earned two All-American finishes at Fargo and has consistently climbed the rankings in her senior year.
10. Simon Fraser University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 2 Ranked Recruits: Katja Osteen (#3 at 180), Julia Richey (#4 at 225)
Coach Justin Abdou and the Simon Fraser women's wrestling team haven't taken the mat since their runner-up finish at the 2020 NCWW Championships, as they did not compete during the 2020-2021 season due to the pandemic. They have traditionally recruited very well in California and managed to lure two of the state's best north of the border again in 2021. Katja Osteen was sixth at Women's Nationals in the UWW Junior Division in May after not appearing on the national scene for a couple of years. She was a California State Champ and Folkstyle National Champ in 2018, and finished as a runner-up at both Fargo Cadets and Women's Nationals in UWW Cadets that same year. Julia Richey was a California state champ in 2020, pinning her way to the title.
Sacred Heart University (NCAA DI)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 2 Ranked Recruits Ally Fitzgerald (#3 at 122), Madison Sandquist (#8 at 138)
Central Methodist University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 4 Ranked Recruits: Allison Hynes (#12 at 117), Alexis Miller (#17 at 106), Lillian Gough (#22 at 132), Sabrina King (#23 at 132)
lowa Wesleyan University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 3 Ranked Recruits: Mia Palumbo (#10 at 112), Nonnie Justice (#15 at 127), Sydney Manos (#15 at 152)
Gannon University (NCAA DII)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 2 Ranked Recruits: Anya Knappenberger (#4 at 122), Julianne Moccia (#9 at 106)
Indiana Tech University (NAIA)
Number of Ranked Recruits: 3 Ranked Recruits: Grace Doering (#16 at 164), Alicia Pieper (#25 at 132), Alyssa Pirro (#25 at 138)
Teams (# of Ranked Recruits in parenthesis)
North Central - 12
King - 7
Life - 5
Central Methodist - 4
Grand View - 4
Texas Wesleyan - 4
Augsburg - 3
Indiana Tech - 3
lowa Wesleyan - 3
Tiffin - 3
Campbellsville - 2
Colorado Mesa - 2
Gannon - 2
Lock Haven - 2
McKendree - 2
Sacred Heart - 2
Simon Fraser - 2
Southern Oregon - 2
Adrian - 1
Brewton Parker - 1
Corban - 1
Dixie State - 1
East Stroudsburg - 1
Elmira - 1
Emory and Henry - 1
Life Pacific - 1
Lindenwood - 1
Lourdes - 1
Menlo - 1
Midland - 1
Northern Michigan - 1
Ottawa - 1
Presbyterian - 1
Saint Mary - 1
St. Andrews - 1
Umpqua - 1
Wayland Baptist - 1
William Jewell - 1