McKendree national champion Alara Boyd (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
It was a great first weekend of competition for NCAA teams in the Collegiate Women's Wrestling world. We saw workman-like performances from several returning All-Americans and National Champions, as well as numerous eye-opening displays from freshmen who proved they could compete with the top dogs right away. Let's take a look at notable performances from the two big events that occurred over the weekend.
Pointer Women's Open at UW-Stevens Point
Ranked teams: #1 McKendree, #3 Augsburg, #7 North Central, #13 UW-Stevens Point
The storylines of the day from the Pointer Open were McKendree's National Champions taking care of business, and North Central's freshmen proving they're deserving of their #2 spot in our class of 2021 recruiting rankings.
UW-Stevens Point's 7th ranked Brooke Thurber dominated at 101, earning three 10-0 tech falls on her way to the title. At 109, McKendree's #2 ranked Natalie Reyna survived a scare from North Central freshman Sydney Petzinger by a 4-3 margin in the semifinals. She would advance to the final against teammate Pauline Granados, ranked 2nd at 101, but the two would not wrestle the final bout. Petzinger recovered to finish 3rd.
North Central showed their depth at 116 with Mateah Roehl, 7th at 123, topping freshman teammate Kendra Ryan 8-5 in the final. Ryan took out #8 Abby Nelson of Stevens Point with an 11-0 tech fall in the semis. Nelson teched 5th ranked Carly Valleroy of McKendree in the quarters.
Not a college competitor but eligible in an open tournament format, Victory Wrestling's Cadet and Junior world teamer Alisha Howk showed her experience in winning the 123-pound bracket. However, it was North Central freshman Amani Jones who opened some eyes with her first-period fall over #2 ranked Gabby Skidmore of Augsburg in the semis. Howk would top Jones 10-0 in the final.
Returning national champion Cameron Guerin of McKendree buzzed through the competition at 130, defeating North Central's Niya Gaines in the final. Guerin finished each of her matches early with two tech falls and two pins on the day.
Sara Sulejmani, another North Central freshman, stole the show at 136. She pinned Augsburg's Kya Rybachek, ranked #3 at 143, in the semis before taking down McKendree freshman Skye Realin in the final. Realin earned an impressive win over Augsburg's Autumn Flanigan, #3 at 136, in the quarters.
At 143, freshman Katie Lange of Augsburg pinned her way to the title, defeating North Central's Riley Aamold in the championship bout. Another freshman for the Cardinals, Aamold took out two ranked wrestlers on her way to Lange, pinning #8 Megan Struble of Steven's Point and #4 Michelle Camacho of McKendree.
No surprises at 155 as McKendree's returning national champion Alara Boyd mowed down the competition with two pins and a tech on her way to the title. She pinned #4 Marlynne Deede of Augsburg in the finals. A notable finish here is Northern Michigan freshman Kaitlyn Bryant who was 3rd at the weight.
Joye Levendusky, ranked #3 and the returning national runner-up, was the champion at 170. She took out Stevens Point freshman Jade Herzer with ease in the final. At 191, it was two Bearcats who chose not to wrestle the final, as McKendree's Grace Kristoff and Jaycee Foeller both reached the championship bout but did not wrestle. Foeller earned a fall over North Central's Traeh Haynes in the semis in a battle of high-profile 2021 recruits.
East Stroudsburg Women's Open
Ranked teams: Tiffin (NCAA #9), Gannon (NCAA #10), Adrian (NCAA #11), New Jersey City (NCAA #13).
It was great to see ESU host their Women's Open this year after the team could not compete last season due to the pandemic. Several top NCAA teams were in attendance, and they didn't disappoint.
At 101, Shanna Morris of Tiffin was the bracket's top-ranked wrestler coming in at #8, but she fell to Lock Haven freshman Samantha Reitnour in the semis in a wild match. Reitnour led 11-10 when she got the fall. Morris' teammate, freshman Olivia Shore would get Tiffin's revenge, though, pinning Reitnour in the final. Gannon's Katerina Pendergrass then topped Morris for 3rd.
Gannon's Mikayla Vega earned three falls to secure the title at 109. At 116, it was national runner-up Sugey Ceja of Tiffin, ranked 3rd nationally, taking the crown. She was pushed in the semis by unattached freshman Chloe Ayres, who attends Princeton University, but came out with a 13-12 victory.
Tiffin freshman Solana Mottola stole the show at 123, pinning her way to the title. No opponent lasted longer than 57 seconds against Mottola on the day. NJCU's Naomi Henry was the champion at 130, earning a 10-0 tech fall over Gannon freshman Anya Knappenberger in the final. Knappenberger defeated Lock Haven's Lily Sherer in the quarters in another battle of high-profile freshmen.
At 136, Adrian's Zoe Nowicki, currently ranked 4th at 143, dominated the bracket with two techs and two pins. It was high school senior Kendall Bostelman of Wyoming Seminary who impressed at 143, winning the bracket with an 11-0 tech fall in the finals over Sacred Heart's Maddie Sandquist.
Another freshman upset came at 155, where Lock Haven's Jessica Johnson took out Tiffin's Taylor Hites in the final. Hites is a two-time All-American for the Dragons and is currently ranked 7th at the weight.
Tiffin freshman Taryn Martin dominated the 170-pound bracket, winning the title with three tech falls on the day. Unranked Annabelle Helm of Gannon took out Tiffin's #6 Morgan Davidson in the opening round and again in the 3rd place bout.
Not to be outdone by her fellow freshman on the weekend, Sacred Heart's Ashley Reed won the 191-pound championship. She defeated NJCU's Sandra Guererro in the final, who is currently ranked 6th at the weight. Guerrero was coming off a slight upset of Gannon's #5 ranked Amara Devericks in Round 1.
Let's look forward to another great week of NCAA women's wrestling action as #2 King takes on #5 Emmanuel in a dual meet on Wednesday night, and teams travel to the Waldorf Open, the Maverick Open and the Adrian Duals and Adrian Open over the weekend.