Who’s Number One Girls Preview: 2023 World medalists Jimenez, Jaffe headline loaded card

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Audrey Jimenez (AZ) and Anaya Falcon (CA) competition portraits (Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors)

Who’s Number One Girls Preview: 2023 World medalists Jimenez, Jaffe headline loaded card

The 2023-24 high school season officially kicks off this Saturday, as FloWrestling will host its popular Who’s Number One all-star event at the UW-Parkside De Simone Arena in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Saturday, September 2.

The nation’s top boys and girls wrestlers battle for bragging rights and No. 1 rankings in this annual event, which will be broadcast live. The girls card starts at 4:00 p.m. Central time, with the boys set for about 6:20 p.m. Central time.

Fans can still purchase tickets to see this excellent event live. Floor seats have been sold out, but Bleacher seats remain for $12 each.

Who’s Number One tickets

For more information on the event, including the broadcast link, visit FloWrestling’s Who’s Number One Coverage page

Let’s take a look at the girls wrestling card, which is loaded, including many proven stars and some exciting young talent

Who’s Number One Girls Summaries

(in match order)

100 lbs: Rianne Murphy, Indiana vs Madison Nieuwenhuis, Michigan

It starts out with what should be an active battle between two lightweights who are tough battlers. Rianne Murphy made a huge jump this spring by winning the U17 World Team Trials, with a pair of wins over then No. 2 Caley Graber of Minnesota. She went on to place 10th at the 2023 U17 World Championships and was not at Fargo due to timing. Murphy previously went to Wyoming Seminary, but returned home to Indiana last season and wrestled in a number of college opens, winning the Midlands and the Warrior College Open and taking third at the Bearcat Open. A 2021 16U Nationals champion, she wrestles well in major events.  

Niewenhuis had her breakout performance at the 16U Nationals in Fargo, beating Graber in the finals by a 2-1 decision. Coming into Fargo, she was ranked at No. 9, and had wins over three ranked wrestlers in her bracket. She was beaten in the finals of the U15 Pan American Trials later in the summer by youth sensation Epenesa Elison of California. Niewenhuis won the Michigan state meet at 100 this year. She was fifth at Super 32 in 2021, with a loss to Murphy by technical fall. This will be a test to see how much Niewenhuis has improved in the past year.

127 lbs: Taina Fernandez, Maryland vs Carley Ceshker, Wisconsin

Wrestling fans have been looking forward to Taina Fernandez becoming eligible on the high school level, after she has been dominant at the younger age levels. She gave the world a taste of her ability as a seventh grader in 2021 Super 32, placing third with wins over six nationally ranked high school athletes. She won 2022 Super 32 as an eighth grader, with five more nationally ranked wins over high school stars, including a victory over 2022 U16 Nationals runner-up Carley Ceshker by technical fall. Along the way, she won the 14U and U15 Nationals the last two years and was a 2022 U15 Pan American champion.

Carley Ceshker has an amazing body of work which has earned her a rematch with Fernandez. Ceshker reached the 16U National finals in Fargo for the second straight year this summer, dropping a 3-3 criteria decision to unheralded Lynn Horn of Oklahoma. She was also a finalist in the U17 World Team Trials, losing to another WNO selection Everest Leydecker in the finals. She made headlines by winning the 2022 Midlands and earning Outstanding Wrestler against college wrestlers. Add in a silver medal at the 2022 Preseason Nationals and a 2023 Wisconsin state title, and you have an athlete who puts herself in position to be the best in the nation.

138 lbs: Valerie Hamilton, Illinois vs Kaidance Gerg, Washington

This will be a test between a proven talent and a rising young star. Valerie Hamilton, a 2022 U17 World silver medalist, is the veteran star. While Hamilton did not try out for a World Team in 2023, she won big events like the Brian Keck Preseason Nationals and the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals this season. She also had undefeated efforts at the Junior National Duals and the AAU Duals. She moved up a weight on purpose in the Illinois state meet to battle then-No. 2 Sydney Perry and although Perry won the showdown, Hamilton showed she will wrestle anybody for a good challenge.

Kaidance Gerg’s stock rose with a victory at the 2023 16U Nationals in Fargo, competing for Team Idaho. She defeated then No. 5 Netavia Wickson of Illinois in the Junior Nationals finals by technical fall. Gerg beat five nationally ranked wrestlers in a row in Fargo. One was a revenge wins over Gretchen Donally of Montana, who gave Gerg her only loss in the 2023 National Recruiting Showcase. Gerg was also 8-1 at the Junior Duals this spring. A homeschooled athlete, Gerg has scored ranked wins at big events for the last two seasons. There is no record of a previous meeting between Hamilton and Gerg, which gives this battle even more interest.

144 lbs: May Prado, Georgia vs Nebi Tsarni, Maryland

May Prado has been in the national rankings in recent seasons, but powered to the top with an amazing performance at the U17 World Team Trials in Spokane. Prado had huge wins over then-No. 2 Sydney Perry of Illinois and No. 14 Gianna DeBenedetto of California to reach the finals, then won a three-match series over young talent Belicia Manuel of Michigan to make the World team. Prado did not medal at the U17 Worlds this summer, and did not compete in Fargo to focus on her World competition.

Nebi Tsarni has a knack for wrestling well at big national events, winning Fargo stop signs for three straight summers. This year, she won the Junior Nationals, defeating then-No. 7 Sydney Perry, 12-10 in the finals. Another big win in Fargo was over Sevreign Aumua of Missouri, who knocked off then-No. 5 Skylar Little Soldier of Minnesota in an early round. Tsarni was a 16U Nationals champion in both 2021 and 2022, and was a strong fourth at the 2022 Junior Nationals. She has been dominant at the Maryland state meet as well. Tsarni has not faced Prado in a major competition, so this match will establish the top wrestler heading into the new year.

164 lbs: Naomi Simon, Iowa vs Alexandria Alli, Ohio

Naomi Simon has been consistently one of the nation’s best wrestlers, and pushed herself to the front of the pack with a 2023 Junior Nationals title. She beat then-No. 6 Alexandra Hofrichter of Wisconsin in finals by technical fall. She beat four ranked wrestlers in a row in Fargo, including a win over 2022 U17 World Team Trials champion Amarisa Manuel of Michigan in the semifinals. Simon was unbeaten at the Junior Duals this year and won the 2022 Preseason Nationals. She had some big wins over college wrestlers at the U20 World Team Trials. She has also won the Iowa state meet for three straight years.

Alexandria Alli is a young star breaking through this season. She was second in the 16U Nationals in July, losing only to Piper Fowler of Tennessee in the finals. Fowler won the U17 World gold later in the summer. She has been in the hunt at many major events, placing second at the Recruiting Showcase and third at the U17 World Team Trials, where her only loss was to Fowler. A Prep School national champion for Wyoming Seminary this season, she has transferred to Erie Prep Academy in Pennsylvania to be part of the Erie Sports Center International Academy program.

112 lbs: Clare Booe, Florida vs Gabriella Gomez, Illinois

Clare Booe has won the Junior Nationals two straight years, which by itself should qualify her for Who’s Number One. She pinned then-No. 5 Zao Estrada of South Carolina in the 112-pound finals in July, with three straight wins over ranked athletes to close out the victory. Last year, she won the Junior Nationals title at 106 pounds. She added a gold medal at the 2023 National Recruiting Showcase this season and won a Prep National title for Wyoming Seminary. Her only losses at the U20 World Team Trials were to college wrestlers. She was also a winner in Who’s Number One last year, beating tough Gigi Bragg of Minnesota.

Gabriella Gomez was a 2022 U17 World Championships at 101 pounds, and has remained a top star as she has grown and moved up in weight. She was the Illinois state champion at 115 pounds this year, and had two close losses to Angelina Vargas of Missouri at the U17 World Team Trials. In Fargo, she dropped a quarterfinals match to then No. 5 Janessa George, who has graduated. Gomez battled back to take third, winning four in a row including three ranked wins. These two did not meet in Fargo, so WNO will be a chance to see who has the edge here.

117 lbs: Karlee Brooks, Arizona vs. Isabella Marie Gonzales, California

Many of the Who’s Number One competitors have not faced their opponent, but that is not the case about Western stars Karlee Brooks of Arizona and Isabella Marie Gonzales of California. They met in the consolation semifinals at the 2022 U17 World Team Trials, with Brooks getting a 4-4 criteria decision. Both reached the 2023 U17 World Team Trials finals, with Brooks winning bout one 4-4, and Gonzales winning bout two, 2-0. The deciding third match went to Brooks, 4-0. They met again in the 2023 Recruiting Showcase finals, with Brooks winning by technical fall. These athletes have a history for sure.

Brooks was fifth at the 2023 U17 World Championships, just missing out on a medal and is the solid No. 1 coming into this match. Gonzales was upset in the 16U Nationals quarterfinals by Noelani Lutz of Nevada, 7-6, but battled back to take third with four straight technical falls. This weight class has tremendous depth, and California state champion Gonzales has a body of work that earned her another shot at Brooks. While Brooks has the better resume now, Gonzales has a win in the series along with some very close losses.

122 lbs: Everest Leydecker, Arizona vs  Aubre Krazer, Pennsylvania

Everest Leydecker broke onto the national scene in 2022, when she won the 16U Nationals title with three ranked wins. That victory earned her a spot in 2022 Who’s Number One, where she stopped talented Cadence Diduch of Illinois to become No. 1 for the first time. She was injured during the folkstyle season but was ready for the spring, when she moved up a few pounds and won the U17 World Team Trials with a pair of wins over Carley Ceshker of Wisconsin. Although she did not medal at the U17 Worlds, nobody has beaten Leydecker down at her preferred 122-pound weight class since her national breakout performance last summer.

Aubre Krazer believes she can be the one to best Leydecker at this weight class. Krazer won the 2023 Junior Nationals title with a victory over rising star Lexie Lopez of Colorado in the finals, 5-1. She had three straight ranked wins to close out her Junior Nationals title. Krazer also had a great 2022 in Fargo, placing second in the Junior Nationals (losing only to graduated star Alex Szkotnicki of Maryland) and third in the 16U Nationals (with just a quarterfinal loss to Iowa’s Molly Allen, who won the tournament). Krazer won the Pennsylvania states and the Northeast Regionals this year, and is on a roll, looking to top off a great season in her battle with Leydecker.

132 lbs: Haylie Jaffe, Pennsylvania vs Cadence Diduch, Illinois

Haylie Jaffe of Pennsylvania became one of the brightest stars of the girls high school season in 2023, with a big victory at the U17 World Team Trials in April, and a gritty performance in winning a U17 World bronze medal in early August. She showed her potential in Fargo in 2022, with third place in the 16U Nationals and fifth at the Junior Nationals. After winning the 2023 Pennsylvania states, she was unbeaten at the Ultimate Club Duals. In the U17 Trials, she stopped then No. 1 Cadence Diduch in two straight matches and beat four ranked opponents. Her medal performance in Istanbul, Turkey proved that she has risen to a world-class level.

Diduch bounced back from losing to Jaffe by winning the title at the 2023 Junior Nationals, beating then-No. 2 and graduated Lilly Luft of Iowa by technical fall in the finals. It was her second straight Junior Nationals title, after also winning last year at 122 pounds. Diduch added an Illinois state title this year to her collection. Last year at Who’s Number One, Diduch lost to Everest Leydecker at 122 pounds. Since moving up in weight, she has shown every indication that she is capable of being No. 1 at 132 pounds.

106 lbs: Audrey Jimenez, Arizona vs Anaya Falcon, California

Can’t say much about Audrey Jimenez which hasn’t already been said. She has been the No. 1 Pound-For-Pound wrestler in the nation for two seasons because of her results which include U.S. Senior Open champion, Final X runner-up, two-time U20 World silver medalist. There is a reason Audrey is competing in the final match, the main event of Who’s Number One. She is a legitimate contender for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team as she enters her final year at Sunnyside High School in Tucson. Suffice to say, Jimenez is a huge favorite to win her WNO match. She should be in great shape for this match, after coming off the U.S. Senior World Team Training camp in Colorado Springs in August.

So, what about Anaya Falcon? There is a reason she is in Who’s Number One also. In 2022, she was third at the U17 World Team Trials, avenging a loss to Juliana Ocampo of Indiana in the third-place match. She lost to fellow California star Paige Morales in the 2022 Super 32 finals, but came back and won her big showdown with Morales in the 2023 California state finals at 106 pounds. At that time, Morales was No. 2 and Falcon was No. 3 in the national rankings, and Falcon became a two-time state champion with her win. Falcon also wrestled in the U20 World Team Trials this spring. Jimenez and Falcon last met in the finals of the 2022 National Recruiting Showcase, with Jimenez winning 16-8. Falcon has every right to believe in herself as she takes on a young superstar. Don’t miss this match.