Three-time NCWWC champion Yelena Makoyed of North Central College.
Richard Immel

Three-time NCWWC champion Yelena Makoyed of North Central College, pictured at the 2023 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.


North Central scores five champs, second-straight women’s team title at Ken Kraft Midlands Championships

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

HOFMANN ESTATES, Ill. – The No. 2 ranked North Central College squad delivered its second-straight team title at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on the strength of five individual champions, nine finalists and 17 women placing in the top five of their weight classes.

Three-time NCWWC national champion Yelena Makoyed led the way for the Cardinals with a masterful performance at 170 pounds. Makoyed, the inaugural recipient of the USA Wrestling Women’s College Wrestler of the Year award, went unscored upon, teching each opponent, on the way to her first Midlands title.

2023 U20 World bronze medalist and two-time NCWWC All-American Amani Jones posted a similar effort for North Central on her way to the 123-pound title. The Junior from Locust Grove, Ga., won two bouts by 10-0 scores before pinning unattached wrestler Carissa Qureshi at the 2:04 mark of the championship match.

Also earning top prize for the defending NCWWC team champions were two-time All-Americans Sydney Petzinger at 116 pounds and Tiera Jimerson at 155 pounds, plus returning national runner-up Traeh Haynes at 191 pounds.

One area of surprise for North Central came at 101 pounds as unattached high schooler Madison Nieuwenhuis of Michigan pinned defending NCWWC champion Madison Avila in the finals. Nieuwenhuis is one of the top prospects in the women’s division coming off a 16U national title in Fargo, N.D., last summer.

North Central posted 148 team points to dominate a stout Midlands field that included seven programs ranked in the top 15 of the NWCA NCAA Coaches Poll. No. 5 McKendree wound up in second place with 95.5 team points. No. 7 Lock Haven, No. 10 Northern Michigan, No. 12 Aurora, No. 13 Presbyterian and No. 15 UW-Stevens Point all represented well. Not to mention, Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) sent a solid group of high school athletes that wound up placing in the top five of the team standings.

U15 Pan American gold medalists Kayla Batres and Taina Fernandez, both wrestling unattached, wound up atop the podium at NOW Arena. Batres, who was a 16U runner-up in Fargo, N.D. last summer, took down Lock Haven All-American Kaelani Shufeldt 4-2 in the 109-pound finals. Fernandez teched North Central All-American Salome Walker in the 130-pound finals, 10-0.

Marisol Nugent of Sunkist Kids (136) and two-time NCWWC All-American Viktorya Torres of McKendree (146) round out the list of champions from this year’s event.

Final results and complete brackets of the 59th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships are available on Replays from the event are available online with a Big Ten Plus subscription.

2023 Ken Kraft Midlands Championships

At Hoffman Estates, Ill., Dec. 30

Team Standings

1. North Central, 148

2. McKendree, 95.5

3. Aurora, 64.5

4. Presbyterian, 63

5. Wyoming Seminary, 59.5

6. UW-Stevens Point, 44.5

7. Northern Michigan, 43.5

8. Lock Haven, 28

9. Team Nazar, 26.5

10. Sunkist Kids, 18.5

Final Results

101 pounds

1st – Madison Nieuwenhuis (Unattached) fall Madison Avila (North Central), 5:20

3rd – Lizette Rodriguez (McKendree) dec. Genesis Ramirez (Aurora), 9-0

5th – Lisa Pastoriza (Wyoming Seminary) dec. Emma Heslin (Lock Haven), 7-0

109 pounds

1st – Kayla Batres (Unattached) dec. Kaelani Shufeldt (Lock Haven), 4-2

3rd – Rianne Murphy (Wyoming Seminary) tech. fall Taylor Whiting (Team Nazar), 10-0

5th – Natalie Majer (Unattached) tech. fall Alexis Winecke (UW-Stevens Point), 14-4

116 pounds

1st – Sydney Petzinger (North Central) fall Clare Booe (Wyoming Seminary), 1:13

3rd – Janessa George (North Central) fall Julia Vidallon (McKendree), 1:48

5th – Salyna Shotwell (McKendree) fall Chloe Ayres (Princeton), 1:46

123 pounds

1st – Amani Jones (North Central) fall Carissa Qureshi (Unattached), 2:04

3rd – Shelby Moore (McKendree) tech. fall Alyssa Mahan (Presbyterian College), 10-0

5th – Emma Bacon (Wyoming Seminary) tech. fall Zhivanna Magdaleno (Northern Michigan), 10-0

130 pounds

1st – Taina Fernandez (Unattached) tech. fall Salome Walker (North Central), 10-0

3rd – Alexis Janiak (Aurora) tech. fall Nichole Moore (McKendree), 10-0

5th – Haley Vann (North Central) inj. def. Cassia Zammit (Presbyterian College), 0:00

136 pounds

1st – Marisol Nugent (Sunkist Kids) fall Taylor Graveman (North Central), 2:29

3rd – Alondra Morales (North Central) dec. Niya Teresita Gaines (North Central), 7-0

5th – Sydney Park (North Central) dec. Amor Tuttle (UW-Stevens Point), 7-6

143 pounds

1st – Viktorya Torres (McKendree) dec. Alexis Gomez (Gomez RTC), 7-4

3rd – Alissa Caltagirone (Northern Michigan) fall Kendall Bostelman (North Central), 4:40

5th – Maddie Kubicki (Presbyterian College) forfeit Lillian Freitas (Unattached)

155 pounds

1st – Tiera Jimerson (North Central) dec. Noelle Gaffney (Northern Michigan), 3-2

3rd – Maddie Hayden (Unattached) dec. Sarina Bertram (North Central), 8-3

5th – Antonia Phillips (Aurora) tech. fall Caroline Gilstrap (McKendree), 11-0

170 pounds

1st – Yelena Makoyed (North Central) tech. fall Henlee Haynes (Presbyterian College), 10-0

3rd – Jade Herzer (UW-Stevens Point) tech. fall Fiona McConnell (North Central), 12-0

5th – Tabitha Breitrick (UW-Stevens Point) dec. Ruby Joseph (Northern Michigan), 8-5

191 pounds

1st – Traeh Haynes (North Central) dec. Caroline Ward (North Central), 10-2

3rd – Sydney Manos (Aurora) dec. Brooke Huffman (Team Nazar), 14-11

5th – Logan Ryan (Albion) forfeit Ella Beam (Presbyterian College)