59 kg US Open Champion Nanea Estrella (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
What a weekend we saw out in Las Vegas last weekend at the US Open. There was little time to process the results before turning our sights on the event that will determine age-level world teams on the women's side. Let's take a weight-by-weight look at the U20 National Championships going on this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas. The U20 division offers a great mix of the best high school and underclassmen college talent from across the country, and this year seems prepared to entertain.
This weight is an interesting one because it contains two college weight classes with the 101s and the 109s from both NCAA and NAIA schools, with a smorgasbord of High School talent. Top high schoolers include California's Nyla Valencia, an Iowa commit, and Kaelani Shufeldt along with Arizona's Audrey Jimenez and Nevada's Jenavi Alejandro. The Gonzalez twins, Brianna and Emily - both headed to Iowa, should also be in the conversation, along with Maryland's Alex Szkotnicki. The top college contenders include North Central's Sydney Petzinger, who was 2nd at the NCWWC Championships this year at 109, and a pair of King University stars in Samara Chavez and Sage Mortimer, both who finished 3rd at the NCWWCs at 109 and 116, respectively.
Favorites: Mortimer and Petzinger
Dark Horse: Brianna Gonzalez
53 kilos offers two top-tier high school stars in Elena Ivaldi and Katie Gomez, both of California. Both competed at 53kg last year. Gomez was 4th in the U20 division last year and Ivaldi was 5th in the U17 bracket. Jasmine Godinez and Camille Fournier were both 5th for Texas Wesleyan at the NAIA Championships this year, at 109 and 116 respectively. Kendra Ryan was 6th for North Central at 116 at NCWWCs. Keep an eye on Chloe Ayres of the New Jersey Regional Training Center as well - she doesn't compete collegiately attending Princeton University, but earned several big wins in High School.
Favorites: Fournier and Gomez
Dark Horse: Kendra Ryan
There's not much in the way of ranked High School wrestlers at 55 kilos, but WCAP's Adrian Dorado Marin opened plenty of eyes last weekend by winning the US Open at 57 and drops to 55 this weekend to try and make a U20 world team. She had huge Senior level wins over Amanda Martinez and Cameron Guerin in taking the stop sign. Cristelle Rodriguez was a Cadet World Silver Medalist in 2019 and Amani Jones, who was 5th at NCWWCs for North Central at 123 this season, was the runner-up here last year. North Central's Mateah Roehl and King's Melanie Mendoza are both 2x NCWWC All-Americans in this bracket as well.
Favorites: Dorado Marin and Jones
Dark Horse: Cristelle Rodriguez
Ranked high school wrestlers are much more prevalent at 57 kilos. New Yorks' Sofia Macaluso currently sits at #1 nationally at 122 pounds, while California's Jennifer Soto is ranked #2 at 127. Alexis Janiak of Illinois was 2nd at the weight last year and returns for a shot at the title. Claire DiCugno of Colorado Mesa University defeated Janiak in that 2021 final and went on to have a great freshman season in Grand Junction, finishing 6th at the NCWWCs. Adrienna Turner was an NAIA All-American for Grand View University and Ngao Shoua Whitethorn of Minnesota didn't wrestle in college this season, but was the Junior National Champ in Fargo last summer.
Favorites: DiCugno and Macaluso
Dark Horse: Jennifer Soto
Savannah Cosme won this event last year in the U17 division at 57kg and looks to repeat this year as a U20 at 59. The High School senior will head to Arizona State next season. She joins a wealth of college stars in search of the world team spot. Nanea Estrella of Menlo was second at NAIAs and won the US Open in impressive fashion just last weekend. Montana DeLawder of King had a rough go at the NCWWCs finishing in 7th, but she had a fantastic season before that as she went into the event as the #1 seed. East Stroudsburg's Mia Macaluso was 4th in that same NCWWC bracket, and was the champion of the U20 59kg bracket last year. Janida Garcia of California and Ella Schmit of Iowa enter the event both ranked #6 in the country at 138 and 122 respectively.
Favorites: Estrella and Macaluso
Dark Horse: Montana DeLawder
Five high school competitors entered the event at 62 kilos ranked in the top 5 nationally in Skylar Hattendorf, Marissa Jimenez, Madyson Gray, Savannah Gomez and Paige Wehrmeister. Any one of them has the potential to make a deep run in this bracket. Four college All-Americans join them in Sara Sulejmani of North Central, Emmily Patneaud and Skye Realin of McKendree and NAIA National Champion Adaugo Nwachukwu of Iowa Wesleyan. Nwachukwu and Patneaud were 3rd and 5th last weekend at the US Open.
Favorites: Nwachukwu and Patneaud
Dark Horse: Hattendorf
Emma Walker certainly has the most experienced amongst the top competitors at 65 kilos as she was 2nd at the NAIA Championships at 143 this season. Numbers 1-4 and 6 in the High School rankings will look to challenge her in Iowa commit Reese Larramendy, Lock Haven commit Grace Stem, North Central commit Kendall Bostelman, Missouri's Maddie Kubicki and Iowa commit Isabella Mir - wow. Chloe Ogden is also an interesting entry here. She spent most of her High School career nationally ranked before heading off to UNC where she is currently a freshman - she was 4th here last year.
Favorites: Walker and Larramendy
Dark Horse: Kendall Bostelman
This weight looks to be a battle of young stars all in search of their first world team appearance. Oregon's Destiny Rodriguez, a Junior Fargo national champ last summer, enters the tournament as the #2 ranked High School wrestler at 152 pounds. Lydia Krauss of Michigan is ranked 8th at the same weight. Two college All-Americans look to stand in their way. Sacred Heart's Maddie Sandquist was 3rd at NCWWCs at 143 and North Central's Tiera Jimerson was 5th at 155.
Favorites: Rodriguez and Sandquist
Dark Horse: Jimerson
We don't need to look very far for the heavy favorite at 72kg. Amit Elor enters the event after winning Junior World Gold in 2021. She entered the US Open last weekend but pulled out, with an illness. We are excited to see her enter again here and eager to see her on the mat this weekend in Fort Worth. Her largest challenger will likely be Missouri's Haley Ward or Washington's Shannon Workinger. Skylar Chakouian of Elmira was an NCWWC All-American at 155 this season.
Dark Horse: Chakouian
Tristan Kelly is likely the most experienced wrestler in the field at 76. She was 3rd at the NCWWCs in 2021, before discontinuing her college career to go full-time with WCAP. She was 5th at last weekend's US Open. The top-ranked High School wrestlers in the field include Washington's Alivia White and Utah's Brooklyn Hays. Illinois' Rose Cassioppi is also an intriguing name here. Journey Land was an NCWWC All-American for Limestone at 191 this season.
Favorites: Kelly and White
Dark Horse: Rose Cassioppi