Iowa transfer Felicity Taylor at Final X NYC (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Another jam-packed summer of wrestling is behind us and the academic year has begun at colleges with women's wrestling across the country. We take a look at where the best high school recruits in the class of 2022 will be suiting up in college, as well as a long list of transfers that found new homes as well. This was likely the most top-tier transfer movement we've seen in women's wrestling in recent memory.
As we did in our 2021 recruiting class rankings, we rank classes based on the number of notable recruits, paying particular attention to top-tier talent in regards to both freshmen and transfers. We use the Final National Girls High School Rankings from the 2021-2022 season that USA Wrestling provided in late June for individual ranks of the High School class of 2022, and previous final High School rankings and collegiate results for high-profile transfers.
1. University of Iowa (NCAA Division I)
The Hawkeyes won't compete this coming season, but will instead redshirt and prepare for their inaugural season in 2023-2024. But that didn't stop Head Coach Clarissa Chun from cleaning up with her first recruiting class, landing four top-ranked recruits and nine that finished their senior seasons ranked inside the top-10 at their weight class. California twins Brianna and Emilie Gonzalez shared the 100-pound Fargo Junior title in 2021 after each ran their way to the finals. Nyla Valencia opened eyes when she topped multiple-time World Champion and 4x Collegiate National Champion Emily Shilson at the U23 nationals in May. Calkins was a champ at Fargo in 2021 before falling in the finals this past July. Wyoming Seminary's Reese Larramendy was more than impressive in dominating her way to the title at the U20 World Team Trials in May. 2021 Junior World Champion Kylie Welker landed at #2 at 164 in the final rankings, simply because fellow World Champion Amit Elor claimed the #1 spot ahead of her; but folks could easily make the case that Welker was the #1 overall recruit in the class.
The young Hawkeyes will get some much-needed leadership from a pair of seasoned transfers. Felicity Taylor comes over from McKendree for her final season of eligibility after making three NCWW finals appearances for the Bearcats, including taking the crown in 2021 at 116 pounds. Taylor was impressive in winning the US Open in April with a tech fall over Alyssa Lampe in the finals. Nanea Estrella, wrestling at Menlo, fell in the NAIA finals in 2022, but won the US Open title just a month later in Vegas. She will likely slot in right away for the Hawkeyes at 130 pounds.
2. Life University (NAIA)
Eight ranked freshmen arrive in Ashley Flavin's 2022 class, including four top-5s. Their spot on this list is tops among NAIA programs. Sarah Savidge won her first Fargo title in July to go along with a 5th place finish at the U20 trials, which included an impressive tech fall over Grand View All-American Adrienna Turner. Madeline Welch was 4th at Fargo this past summer. The McBryde sisters have become an incredible story in women's wrestling, and all three will head to Life this fall to compete for the Running Eagles. Each of the sisters earned All-American honors at USA Wrestling's Women's Nationals in May. Kailey Rees won multiple Florida state titles and made a Super 32 final last fall. A host of other talented incoming freshmen will provide a boost to a team that won the NAIA National Duals title in 2022.
On the transfer side, Kaci Bice was a runner-up at the Junior College National Championships at 123 pounds. Jasmine Godinez comes over from Texas Wesleyan after a 5th place finish at 109 pounds at the NAIA Championships. Miranda DiBenedetto was the NCWA champion at 109 pounds for Big Bend Community College in 2022.
3. North Central College (NCAA Division III)
The strength of the class for the Cardinals is an outstanding transfer haul. London Houston was the #2 overall recruit in the class of 2022 and the nation's #1 ranked 132-pounder after claiming titles at the Junior Pan Ams, Fargo, and the Recruiting Showcase in her senior season. 2021 Junior World teamer Jaslynn Gallegos comes over from Presbyterian after claiming three straight NCWW All-American awards and a WCWA National title. She was 5th at the 2021 Junior World Championships for Team USA. Brittyn Corbishley won a Fargo title in 2021 and concluded her senior season as the nation's #2 ranked 180-pounder before spending her freshman season at Texas Wesleyan, where she earned a 4th place finish at the NAIA Championships. Her most impressive win came in a fall over eventual NCWW #1 seed Cheyenne Bowman at the Missouri Valley Open. Sara Sterner was 4th at Fargo as a senior in 2021 and finished as the runner-up at U23 Nationals this past May at 57kg. Her run there included an impressive win over King All-American Melanie Mendoza.
Wyoming Seminary's Kendall Bostelman and California's Maddie Avila lead the list of freshmen for North Central. Bostelman was impressive in winning the 143-pound title at the ESU Collegiate Women's Open last fall, where she topped Sacred Heart's Madison Sandquist, the eventual 3rd place finisher at the NCWW Championships. Avila was undefeated this summer for team California at the Women's Junior Duals and owns a pair of Fargo All-American awards.
4. Central Methodist University (NAIA)
Sam Schmitz made the surprising jump from 3x defending NCWW Champion McKendree to take the job as Director of Wrestling and Head Men's Coach at CMU. Brieana Delgado will continue to serve as the Women's Head Coach and will greatly benefit from five impact transfers that followed Schmitz in the move. Jaycee Foeller concluded her senior season as the nation's #1 ranked 180-pounder and was the NCWW runner-up at 191 in her freshman season for the Bearcats, while Realin and Patneaud were 4th and 5th, respectively, at 136. Hannah Hall was the #4 ranked 112-pounder her senior year. She didn't make it into the stacked Bearcat lineup as a freshman, but claimed a 3rd place finish in the U20 Division at Women's Nationals in May, a run that included a fall over Texas Wesleyan All-American Camille Fournier. On the freshman side, Caitlyn Davis comes in with a couple of Fargo All-American awards on her resume.
5. Southern Oregon University (NAIA)
Gabby Weyhrich, the top assistant at McKendree for the past several seasons, makes the move west to become the new Head Coach at SOU, and she'll bring three Bearcat All-Americans with her. Joye Levendusky, a three-time NCWW All-American, has been 2nd at the Championships each of the past two seasons, while Natalie Reyna has turned in finishes of 7th, 3rd and 4th. Grace Kristoff has two NCWW All-American awards of her own, and was particularly impressive in knocking off the #1 seed at the 2022 Championships. Isabella Amaro, a multiple-time Oregon state champ, will lead the crop of Raider freshmen. Amaro was an All-American at Fargo in 2019 before falling just short of the podium in 2021 and 2022, but has had several impressive wins in her High School career.
6. McKendree University (NCAA Division II)
Alexio Garcia will be the new Head Coach at McKendree and will look to continue the dominance the Bearcats have established in the NCAA division. A couple of high-profile transfers will join him. Salyna Shotwell finished her High School career as the #4 ranked 117-pounder in the country, and backed it up in her freshman campaign at Life, wrestling to a 2nd place finish at the NAIA Championships at 116. Alexandra Castillo comes over from Campbellsville where she followed up a WCWA Championship from 2020 with a runner-up finish at the NAIA Championships in 2021. Sylvia Pierce finished her High School career as the nation's #12 ranked 138-pounder but saw limited action in her freshman season at Life. She will likely look to fill the void left by two departing All-American 136-pounders for the Bearcats. Jennifer Soto, the nation's #2 ranked 127-pounder, has had an outstanding High School career that included three California state titles and three Fargo finals appearances.
7. Menlo College (NAIA)
Head Coach Joey Bareng held things together admirably for the Oaks through COVID restrictions that rendered them unable to compete at the NAIA Championships for two straight seasons before returning with a 3rd place team finish in 2022. He also fared well on the recruiting trail, landing eight ranked recruits to go along with an All-American transfer. Samantha Barragan comes over after the program was dropped at Life Pacific, where she became the school's first and only NAIA All-American with an 8th place finish at 136 in her freshman season. Neila Fritts captured a California state title at 235 pounds in 2022, while Shannon Workinger capped an impressive Fargo Junior tournament with a third-place finish at 164. Karen Salais and Lexy Beadles both wrestled to 3rd place finishes at the California state championships while Kayla McKinley-Johnson was 3rd in Washington.
8. Grand View University (NAIA)
Angelo Crinzi and the Grand View staff head into the program's fourth season in search of their first trophy finish in the NAIA. They will lean on the strength of a large contingent of quality freshmen as the Vikings landed eight ranked recruits. Maya Davis, Madyson Gray, and the Campbell sisters all won multiple state championships and were regular attendees at Fargo. Shenita Lawson was the Texas State runner-up at 185 as a senior. Lita Cruz earned All-American finishes at the Recruiting Showcase and Folkstyle Nationals last spring.
9. Colorado Mesa (NCAA Division II)
Travis Mercado has built a powerhouse program in a hurry at Colorado Mesa, coaching the Mavericks to three straight top-5 finishes at the NCWW Championships since their inaugural season in 2019. They'll add six quality freshmen to a solid contingent of returning All-Americans in 2022. The top two in the class come from Washington. Aynslee Hester wrestled to a 3rd place finish in a very tough 155-pound bracket at the Washington state tournament, while Isabella Morales won the title at 100. Jada Llamido was 3rd in 2022 after winning a state title in Florida in 2021. Hailey Chapman was 3rd at the always tough California state championships and followed it up with All-American honors at the U23 Nationals in May. Celina Cooke earned All-American honors at women's nationals as well, to go with her Nevada State Championship.
10. Missouri Valley College (NAIA)
Kevin Corbett makes the jump from Lyon College to Missouri Valley to become the new Head Coach of the Vikings. He brings a couple of transfers with him, including younger sister Kelani, who was the 2022 NAIA National Champion at 191 pounds after finishing 3rd in 2021. Ashley Whetzal also comes from Lyon where she fell in the bloodround at the 2022 NAIA Championships. She was 5th at U23 Nationals in May. Emma Carter wrestled to a 5th place finish at U20s after falling in the bloodround of the NCWW Championships wrestling for William Jewell.
Indiana Tech University (NAIA) - 3 Notable Recruits: Riley Dempewolf (#3 at 200), Haley Thompson (#10 at 225), Makayla Young (Previously ranked at 100)
Vanguard University (NAIA) - 3 Notable Recruits: Lily El-Masri (#12 at 164), Piper Staniford (#21 at 152), Mariz Soliman (#21 at 138)
Brewton Parker College (NAIA) - 3 Notable Recruits: Jamesa Robinson (Indian Hills CC), Katelyn Lewis (#8 at 180), Madisyn Blackburn (Previously ranked at 127)
Presbyterian College (NCAA Division I) - 2 Notable Recruits: Paige Wehrmeister (#4 at 138), Ella Beam (#18 at 180)
Lock Haven (NCAA Division II) - 2 Notable Recruits: Kaelani Shufeldt (#6 at 100), Grace Stem (#8 at 144)
Campbellsville (NAIA) - 2 Notable Recruits: Torie Buchanan (#9 at 122), Shea Reisel (#20 at 112)
Aurora University (NCAA Division III) - 2 Notable Recruits: Alexis Janiak (#7 at 127), Natasha Markoutsis (#16 at 127)
Augsburg University (NCAA Division III) - 2 Notable Recruits: Ashley Lekas (Texas Wesleyan), Brooklyn Hayes (#15 at 164)
Gannon University (NCAA Division II) - 2 Notable Recruits: Schyler Caringi (#15 at 144), Lili Ujfalvi (Hungary)
East Stroudsburg University (NCAA Division II) - 1 Notable Recruit: Sofia Macaluso (#1 at 122)
Limestone University (NCAA Division II) - 1 Notable Recruit: Dasia Yearby (#5 at 200)
Tiffin University (NCAA Division II) - 1 Notable Recruit: Jenavi Alejandro (#6 at 112)