St. Louis to Host WCWA Women’s College Nationals
23 Jan, 2014
Jason Moorman’s King University women’s team came into the season as the most experienced and talented team in women’s college wrestling. The performance of the Tornado has met the expectations, as King has gone unbeaten in dual meets and won the title at the NWCA Women’s College National Duals. Only one thing remains left for this to be a great season. King needs to win its first team title at Nationals.
In the history of women’s college nationals, the only teams to ever win a national title were Oklahoma City, the Univ. of the Cumberlands, Missouri Valley College and last year’s champion Simon Fraser. Can King step up when it counts and become the fifth team on this elite list?
King’s top star is 2013 U.S. Senior World Team member Alli Ragan, a WCWA champion last year who holds the No. 1 WCWA ranking at 130 pounds. Two WCWA runner-ups last year, who hold No. 1 in the women’s college rankings this year and are very successful in USA Wrestling events are Sarah Hildebrandt at 123 pounds and Julia Salata at 155 pounds.
A freshman could help put King over the edge, No. 1 ranked Haley Augello at 116 pounds. Augello, who was second in the U.S. Senior Open while in high school, is a past Cadet World champion. Also expected to score a ton of points is No. 2 ranked Amanda Hendey at 143 pounds, also a past U.S. Senior Open champion.
King was featured in a USA Wrestling Google+ Hangout recently, which fans can enjoy at this address.
Last year, Simon Fraser won its first WCWA Nationals with a heroic performance in the championship finals, winning all six of their finals matches to overtake Oklahoma City. Four of last year’s WCWA champions have returned for this year’s nationals, giving the Clan a realistic chance to repeat as champions. Simon Fraser lost to King by only two points in the NWCA National Duals just a few weeks ago.
Two returning champions were members of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Senior World Team, 2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis at 130 pounds and two-time Junior World champion Victoria Anthony at 109 pounds. Because of their World Team duties, both did not wrestle on the college scene in the first semester. Should the American stars win the WCWA Nationals again, they will both become the first four-time women’s college national champions in history.
Also back are 2013 WCWA National champions and top-ranked Justina Distasio at 170 pounds and Jenna McLatchy at 191 pounds. Also counted on scoring a bunch of team points is No. 3 ranked Darby Huckle at 101 pounds, who took third at last year’s WCWA Nationals. If Simon Fraser’s big guns are able to match the performance of King’s stars, the fate of the team may be determined by the weight classes where they are not highly ranked. If they can over-perform at these weights, the team title may remain up in Canada.
Nobody should ever overlook Oklahoma City, which was second last year, and won the four previous team titles. Archie Randall’s Stars are actually ranked No. 2 in the final WCWA team rankings, based upon projected tournament results. If this year’s team has a big star, it would be returning WCWA national champion Emily Webster at 101 pounds. She is the only No. 1 ranked athlete on the team this year going into nationals.
However, the Stars have a whole slew of wrestlers ranked either No. 2 or No. 3. Coming in with No. 2 rankings are Kristie Garr at 109 and Rachel McFarland at 130. The No. 3 ranked athletes include freshman Cody Pfau at 116, Breanna Delgado at 123, Stephanie Geltmacher at 143 and Heather O’Connor at 191. If these athletes can beat their seeds, and some of their other teammates pick up some points, OCU will be looking strong in the team race.
Once you get past the big three of women’s college wrestling, it is a wide-open field for the rest of the standings. With the addition of new programs and new coaches in the WCWA this year, the depth of women’s college wrestling has continued to expand. Many teams have athletes who were Fargo All-Americans during their high school years on their rosters, and some of the young stars have the potential to make an impact right away.
Lindenwood Univ., coached by Olympian Toccara Montgomery, has been a consistent performer and seems to be making a nice run late in the year. Although the Lady Lions don’t have a No. 1 ranked individual, they have a number of potential finalists, including No. 2 Diashya Moore (123), No. 2 Amy Spafford (155), No. 3 Monica Ramierz (136), and No. 3 Victoria Francis (170). Lindenwood was sixth at the NWCA National Duals a few weeks ago.
Having a very strong season and coming in at No. 5 is Wayland Baptist out of Texas, which placed ninth in last year’s nationals. The Flying Queens are led by a No. 1 ranked wrestler, talented junior Tamyra Mensah at 143, who was third last year at this weight. WBU has No. 2 ranked wrestlers Vanessa Smith (101) and Samantha Villegas (136) and 11 total ranked wrestlers. This could be a breakthrough nationals for this improving team, which was fourth at the WCWA National Duals in Iowa, losing to Oklahoma City in the bronze-medal round.
Rounding out the top 10 teams coming into nationals are host Missouri Baptist at No. 6, followed by No. 7 Univ. of Jamestown, No. 8 Campbellsville, No. 9 Waldorf College and No. 10 Univ. of the Cumberlands.
Leading the way for host Missouri Baptist is No. 3 Cheyenne Youngblood (130), No. 6 Montana Drum and No. 7 Bree Rapoza (116). Coach Brian Jackson is hoping that the home field advantage pushes his Spartans higher up in the rankings.
Campbellsville is a new team in the WCWA this year, coached by Lee Miracle. The Lady Tigers were seventh at the NWCA National Duals, with a nice win over Missouri Baptist. The team is almost all freshmen, with just two sophomores, a junior and a senior on the roster. Miracle has already secured some blue-chip recruits expected to join the program next year, including his daughter and Cadet World medalist Kayla Miracle. The top stars on the team this year include No. 4 Hanna Hall (143), No. 5 Breonnah Neal (109) and No. 6 Rosemary Flores (130).
Every year, the WCWA coaches talk about improved depth in this event, and a higher level of competition going back into the early rounds. With new teams and a slew of talented freshmen spread around the nation, this should continue to be the case this year. It will be fun to see how many upsets happen in the early rounds.
There will be a live webcast provided by Missouri Baptist University from the WCWA Nationals, with two announcers on the call, switching from mat to mat as possible. Fans can enjoy this webcast at this site.