|U.S. Nationals Women’s preview at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
This weight class is loaded with talent and experience. There are three women in the division who are past U.S. World Team members: Mary Kelly of the New York AC, Stephanie Murata of the Sunkist Kids and Clarissa Chun of the Sunkist Kids.
The returning 2005 U.S. World Team member is Kelly, who placed ninth at the World meet in China. Kelly scored wins over Murata and Chun at the World Team Trials last year. Kelly was fourth at the Dave Schultz Memorial, where she was defeated by Murata in the semifinals. She is a past age-group World medalist and has been getting considerable international experience in the last few seasons.
Murata is currently ranked No. 1 in TheMat.com rankings, after taking a gold medal at the recent Dave Schultz Memorial International, with a win over Kelly. Murata was a 2001 World silver medalist, and boasts eight past U.S. Nationals titles. Considered one of the most experienced athletes in women's wrestling, Murata made the move down in weight a few seasons ago and has been successful competing at the lowest weight division.
The defending national champion is veteran Clarissa Chun, who won her first career title in Las Vegas last year. Chun was defeated by Kelly in the finals of the Women's World Team Trials. Chun is a former World Team member with vast experience. She won a gold medal this year at the Sunkist Kids International. Chun, like Kelly and Murata, is a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete, and all should be in top form heading into this year's national championships
Sara Fulp-Allen of Menlo College, a former U.S. Nationals champion and one of the stars of the college scene, holds a No. 4 ranking at this time. Fulp-Allen has been competing up at 51 kg/112.25 pounds during the college season, where she won a college national title this season, and could be moving up in weight. If she remains at 48 kg, Fulp-Allen is a threat to make the finals again in Las Vegas.
Liz Short, who competes for the USOEC program at Northern Michigan, has been a consistent competitor at this level, and was sixth at the U.S. Nationals last season. Short has made past age-group World teams for the USA. Whitney Conder was also an All-American at this division last year, placing fifth.
High school star Nicole Woody of the New York AC won a Junior World title last summer, and placed seventh at the U.S. Nationals last year. She defeated 2005 U.S. Nationals runner-up Caitlyn Chase of the Gator WC in the seventh-place match in Las Vegas last year.
Among the contenders from the college ranks are Sadie Kaneda of the USOEC, Melissa Gerard and Aquila Hills from the Univ. of the Cumberlands, Rachel Holthaus from the Univ. of Regina and Amantha Hordagoda from Cal-State Bakersfield. All have the potential to crack into the All-American ranks at the U.S. Nationals, based upon performances during the last year.
2006 U.S. Nationals results at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.
1st - Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Stephanie Murata, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 3-2, 2-0
3rd - Mary Kelly, Mahomet, Ill. (USOEC/New York AC) dec. Sara Fulp-Allen, El Granada, Calif. (Menlo College), 1-0, 2-0
5th - Whitney Conder, Puyallup, Wash. (Vision Quest Sport/Fitness) inj. dft. Liz Short, Lombard, Ill. (USOEC), 0:00
7th -Nicole Woody, Odenton, Md. (New York AC) pin Caitlyn Chase, Hanover Park, Ill. (Gator WC), 0:16
TheMat.com rankings at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. for February 2007
1. Stephanie Murata, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
2. Mary Kelly, Mahomet, Ill. (USOEC/New York AC)
3. Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
4. Sara Fulp-Allen, El Granada, Calif. (Menlo College)
5. Liz Short, Lombard, Ill. (USOEC)
6. Nicole Woody, Odenton, Md. (New York AC)
7. Sadie Kaneda, Honolulu, Hawaii (USOEC)
8. Melissa Gerard, Norway, Mich. (Univ. of the Cumberlands)
9. Rachel Holthaus, Little Falls, Minn. (Sunkist Kids)
10. Caitlyn Chase, Hanover Park, Ill. (Gator WC)