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Notes from the NAIA Women's National Duals

2020 NAIA National Duals champion Life University(photo courtesy of NWCA)


NAIA Women's Wrestling took a back seat to no one when it came to competitiveness, strategic moves and upsets at the nation's biggest dual tournament last week. The top 5 NAIA teams in the country, and 7 of the top 10, showed up in Louisville for the NWCA National Duals, and they were ready to rock. Here's a recap, with a look at the surprises and the upsets.

The 1st seed went to #1 Campbellsville, while the 4th seed went to #5 ranked Grand View. Campbellsville looked the part in a 45-2 thrashing of #7 Indiana Tech in the quarterfinals. Grand View battled to a 26-19 win over #5 Texas Wesleyan 26-19 in the quarterfinals, but in the semifinals, it would be Campbellsville who would prevail with the 26-18 win to move to the finals.

On the other side were #2 Life University and #3 Southern Oregon. SOU downed #8 University of the Cumberlands 34-10 in the quarters, while Life knocked off #14 Baker University 33-10. In the semis, it would be Life with the 28-15 victory over SOU.

That set up a final between Campbellsville and Life. Life would lead by 1 point going into the final match, between Campbellsville's 6th ranked Liliana Vergara and Life's 7th ranked Gabrielle Hamilton at 191. Hamilton secured the fall, giving Life the 25-19 victory and the NWCA championship. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Life's championship performance is that they started each dual with a 5 point deficit, as they did not have a 101 for the tournament.

In the 3rd place match, Southern Oregon dispatched Grand View by winning 7 of 10 bouts, and #5 Texas Wesleyan held seed by defeating #14 Baker University 27-21.

Oh yeah, there were some moves and a number of upsets. Here are some of the ones we noted (rankings courtesy of the most recent NAIA Coaches' Poll with apologies to any I missed):

At 101, Indiana Tech's #7 Sydney Kutzke had a tough outing. She held her own against Providence's #1 Ivy Navarro, losing 8-3, but was taken down by Campbellsville's unranked Mia Diaz and Cumberlands' unranked Elizabeth Dosado.

At 109, another unranked Campbellsville wrestler, Kelsey Bilz, should make an appearance in the next rankings after taking down Indiana Tech's #5 Tehani Soares and Grand View's #14 Chloe Krebsbach.

#5 Soares also had a tough outing, also dropping matches to Missouri Baptist's #12 Jessica Corredor and Texas Wesleyan's #6 Jasmine Godinez.

Campbellsville's McKayla Campbell, ranked #4 at 109, has not wrestled there yet this year. But at 116, she did find Life's Payton Prussin, ranked #1 at 109, who moved up for the tournament, and they delivered a wild one - 19-14 for Prussin. You might think Prussin won't stay there long, with teammate Salyna Shotwell ranked #1 at 116, but Shotwell bumped up to 123 for the event - and 123 is the only weight at which Life does not have a ranked wrestler.

Or maybe not. While Shotwell did pin Campbellsville's ninth-ranked Jacqueline Ghent at 123, she lost to Baker's #2 Nichole Moore 1-5. Notably, SOU bumped 116 #3 Tara Othman up to wrestle Shotwell, but Shotwell prevailed, 10-6.

While she wasn't able to knock off Shotwell, #9 Ghent did upset Grand View's 6th ranked Adrienna Turner.

Another wrestler who bumped up for the event was SOU's Carolina Johnson, ranked #6 at 116. The move paid off, as she went 3-0, including a 9-3 victory over Grandview's 6th ranked Turner at 123.

Not an upset, but you always love to see a 2 vs 3, and we got that at 123 when Baker's #2 Nichole Moore beat Texas Wesleyan's #3 Devin Patton.

An interesting thing happened at 130/136, as Texas Wesleyan's Mea Mohler, #1 at 130, went up to 136, and teammate Lexi Basham, #2 at 136, went down to 130. The move fared well, as both wrestlers went 5-0 during the 2-day event.

Another move here last week was Grand View's Andrea Schlabach, ranked #7 at 136, going down to 130 for the event. She lost 8-4 to Basham (#2, 136), but she turned around and pinned Campbellsville's Angela Vitiritti, #2 at 130.

Also at 136 - recall that Life won the championship in the last match of the dual - it helped that #14 Olivia Mottley upset Campbellsville's #6 Randi Robison in that final dual. Earlier, Mottley also upset SOU's #8 Julissa Taitano.

At 143, just a couple of matches of real note. Campbellsville's #5 Emma Walker downed Grand View's #3 Alexis Gomez in an 8-8 tie. Not a colossal upset, to be sure, but in her next match, Gomez would go out and get the fall against SOU's Emily Se, who moved up to 143. Se holds the 3rd ranking at 130, but she has yet to compete there this year, having wrestled 24 matches at 136. Louisville marked her first appearance at 143.

There was a big move at 155, as Baker's Kaylynn Albrecht, ranked 8th at 170, dropped down and teched Missouri Baptist's #3 Tiyahna Askew.

Also at 155, we got one of those #1-#2 matches you hope for at an event like this, as SOU's #1 Sienna Ramirez outlasted Life's #2 Destinee Rivera 4-1.

More action at 170, starting with Life's #4 Jordan Nelson earning a 6-1 win over Baker's #5 Elisa Robinson. Shortly after that, Robinson was upset by Cumberland's #10 Chamira Cooper.

And in the big one at 170, Grand View's #3 Abby McIntyre teched Texas Wesleyan's #1 Brittyn Corbishley.

Finally, there was one big upset at 191, as SOU's unranked Karrah Smith pinned Cumberlands' #3 Jesse Kirby.

All this tells us is what we already know - rankings mean nothing when you step inside the circle. And at the end of the day, what happens in January doesn't really mean much. A lot of these matches are likely to be repeated in February and March in the conference and national championships

Let's wrestle!

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