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|Simon Fraser, Oklahoma City & King seek team title at WCWA Women’s College Nationals, Jan. 25-26|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Helen Maroulis of Simon Fraser, a 2012 World silver medalist for the USA, seeks her third WCWA Women's college national title this weekend. Larry Slater photo
The Oklahoma City Stars, winner of the last four WCWA women’s college national team titles, enters this weekend’s WCWA Nationals at King College in an unfamiliar position as an underdog at this year’s national championships at King College in Bristol, Tenn., January 25-26.
Archie Randall’s team has been outstanding during its four-year run of WCWA national titles, but face heavy challenges from last year’s runners-up King College and current top-ranked Simon Fraser for the national crown this year.
Oklahoma City has seen a few streaks cut short during the women’s college season this year. Their 91-dual unbeaten streak was snapped in November when Simon Fraser beat them 22-10 at the Harry Geris Duals in London, Canada. Their five year run as the NWCA National Duals champion was halted with a Simon Fraser 27-13 win in the finals in Springfield, Ill. just a few weeks ago.
However, the WCWA Nationals is an individual tournament, and the top three teams in women’s college wrestling could all put together the right combination of victories to come home with the team title this year. Every year, the top teams juggle their lineups a bit prior to the WCWA Nationals, and it will be interesting to see the final lineups for these programs.
“It’s tough. The tournament has evolved to where we have wanted it all along. We’ve grown to 200 athletes and up to 17 schools. You can break it down and look at possible points, but rankings don’t mean a thing. The number of upsets is unreal. It depends on where coaches put their kids. It’s a chess match and it’s anybody’s game. Most of the schools involved have somebody who could become a national champion,” said OCU coach Archie Randall.
Mike Jones’ Simon Fraser Clan brings some major individual firepower to King College this weekend, which collectively could put up a ton of team points at nationals. Simon Fraser holds the No. 1 ranking in the WCWA team rankings this week. King College opened the season at No. 1, and Oklahoma City took it shortly after with victories over King.
“At National Duals, I thought our women wrestled as well as a group as I’ve had in 10 years working with them. We are an experienced group and have great leaders. It makes a huge difference. We have had a great year, but this tournament can go any way. We are excited and want to win,” said Mike Jones.
Simon Fraser has five No. 1 ran ked wrestlers, four who have won at least one previous WCWA national title. The Big Three for the Clan are two-time WCWA National champions Victoria Anthony (109), Helen Maroulis (130) and Danielle Lappage (155). All are top international stars, with Maroulis winning a Senior World silver medal, Anthony two Junior World titles and Lappage a Junior World title. All three took the 2012 college season off to pursue spots on their nation’s Olympic teams, Anthony and Maroulis in the USA and Lappage in Canada.
2012 WCWA national champion Justine Distassio (170) is looking to repeat as champion for Simon Fraser, and Jenna McLatchy (191) goes into nationals with a top ranking. McLatchy was fifth last year at 155 pounds, but has had a strong season at the highest weight.
“Each athlete has to wrestle as well as they can and try to get the highest place they can. At the end of the day, you look up and see how you do. It won’t come down to the big names. The difference will be somebody you didn’t count on. I actually think King is favored. They are at home and they have the talent to win,” said Jones.
Oklahoma City also has its own firepower, with returning WCWA champions Emily Webster (101) and Joey Miller (116) holding top rankings going into nationals. Ranked No. 2 for the Stars are 2012 WCWA runner-up Stephanie Geltmacher (143) and third-place finisher Brittany Roberts (155) should score big points for OCU. Three other Stars are ranked No. 2 and could be key to a team victory – Beatrize Martinez (136), Demi Strub (170) and Heather O’Connor (191).
“We need to have performances from Kristi Garr at 109, Brittany Roberts at 155 or where I put her, and from Demi Strub, who has had a great year but needs to perform. As tight as it is, we need performances from our top athletes and our seconds as well. Teams will get their finalists, but the backside will win this tournament,” said Randall.
Jason Moorman’s King College Tornado will be hosting the WCWA Nationals for the second straight year, and are seeking to win its first team title on its home mats. King has a strong lineup of athletes who have been very successful on both the college and the international level, including some big talents who have the ability to win gold medals. This team was third at the National Duals and believes it can win it all.
Two-time Junior World bronze medalist Alli Ragan holds a No. 1 ranking at 136, but has yet to win a WCWA national title, after placing second the last two seasons. Also standing at No. 1 for King this week is Sara Hildebrandt (123), a runner-up last year. A returning WCWA national champion for King, who is ranked No. 2 at 109, is talented Emily Martin. King has a wrestler ranked in the top four in eight weight classes, and could put together a total team effort that could put them over the top. Watch for Junior and University team member Julia Salata, No. 3 at 155, who has talent and experience. Another possible finalist who recently became eligible and is bouncing back from injury is Amanda Hendey (143), a past U.S. Open runner-up, who is ranked No. 6 but capable of beating any opponent in the weight.
“We could end up with nine or 10 in the finals if we wrestle well,” said Moorman. “In the National Dual semis, three of the matches we lost to Simon Fraser went three periods, and if we won them, it could have gone our way. And we didn’t have Sara Hildebrandt in the lineup that match. It should be real interesting at nationals.”
The next big battle will be for fourth place, because the top three programs are way ahead of the others in terms of potential points scored at the national tournament. There is not much that separates the next six teams, where some strong individual efforts and a few surprise All-Americans could give them an edge in the standings.
Tony DeAnda’s Jamestown College is ranked No. 4 this week, its highest ranking since the program was developed. Although none of his Jimmie wrestlers are ranked in the top two of their classes, there are some athletes capable of reaching the semifinals or beyond. No. 3 Shai Mason (136), No. 3 Lillia Gudzyuk (170), No. 4 Amy Fearnside (109) and No. 4 Christina Zamora (155) could make an impact at nationals.
Toccara Montgomery’s Lindenwood Lions, currently ranked No. 5, and Carl Murphree’s Missouri Valley College Vikings, sitting at No. 6, bring some strong individual talents to the party.
Rachel Shannon (143) of Lindenwood holds a No. 1 ranking going into the weekend after a strong season. 2011 WCWA nationals champion Shauna Isbel of Lindenwood is ranked No. 2 behind World medalist Helen Maroulis at 130 pounds and is a top talent.
Missouri Valley’s Jacarra Winchester (116) holds a No. 2 ranking and has had a very strong season. Veteran star Randi Beltz (130) and Brittany Faust (123) are third ranked for the Vikings, and capable of reaching the finals with a peak performance. Missouri Valley had its best season in years, and was fourth at the National Duals just a few weeks ago.
Rounding out the top 10 teams in the newest rankings are Missouri Baptist at No. 7, the Univ. of the Cumberlands at No. 8, Wayland Baptist at No. 9 and Menlo College at No. 10. Each team has its share of All-American hopefuls.
Of this group of teams, Alaina Berube’s Cumberlands squad has perhaps the most experience and potential, but will need strong efforts by veterans Opelia Felipe (101), Cianah Hee (130), Kerstin Harmon (136) , Lauren Louive (143) and Sydney Nelson (155) to climb into the top few teams rather than down in the pack.
This will be the 10th year of women’s college national tournaments, and the thing that makes this so interesting is the size of the tournament and the amount of depth in each weight class. If all of the teams competing on the U.S. women’s college scene show up, there could almost 20 different programs represented with as many as 200 entries. Due to the growth of the field, the event will now be held over two days. Some of the teams will be relatively new, in either their first or second year of fielding women’s teams. Add in the talent from the larger field, and becoming an All-American becomes even more difficult.
WCWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
At King College, Bristol, Tenn., January 25-26
2013 Event Schedule
Friday, January 25
12:00 noon – Preliminaries – Round of 32, Round of 16
2:00 p.m. – Quarterfinals, Consolations Round 1
4:00 p.m. – Consolations Round 2 and 3
Saturday, January 26
10:00 a.m. – Semifinals, Consolations Round 4
12:00 noon – Consolation Quarterfinals, Consolation Semifinals
2:00 p.m. – All-American Medal Matches, places 3-8
4:00 p.m. – Championship Finals
2012 WCWA individual champions
101 - Emily Webster (Oklahoma City)
109 - Emily Martin (King College)
116 - Joey Miller (Oklahoma City)
123 - Michaela Hutchison (Oklahoma City)
130 - Shauna Isbell (Lindenwood)
136 - Krista Revelle (King College)
143 - Jennifer Page (Oklahoma City)
155 - Kristie Davis (Oklahoma City)
170 - Justina Distasio (Simon Fraser)
191 - Brittany Delgado (Oklahoma City)
Italic indicates those returning in 2013
2012 WCWA Nationals Top Ten Teams
1. Oklahoma City University, 141.0
2. King College 91.0
3. Simon Fraser 77.0
4. Lindenwood 64.0
5. Cumberlands 39.0
6. Missouri Valley 21.0
7. Wayland Baptist 20.0
8. Menlo 17.0
9. Waldorf 6.0
10. Northwest Kansas Technical College 5.0
Current WCWA Team Rankings
1. Simon Fraser, 117
2. Oklahoma City, 115
3. King College, 91
4. Jamestown College, 38
5. Lindenwood, 35
6. Missouri Valley College, 33
7. Missouri Baptist College, 33
8. Univ. of the Cumberlands, 21
9. Wayland Baptist, 20
10. Menlo College, 3
11. Waldorf, 3
12. Midland, 1
13. Pacific Univ.
13. Northwest Kansas Tech
13. Southwest Oregon CC
Current WCWA individual and team rankings