Talented U.S. World Team in women’s freestyle receives draw at U23 World Championships

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Macey Kilty (USA) hits a low single during the 2023 Senior World Championships (Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors)

TIRANA, Albania – The talented U.S. U23 World Team in women’s freestyle has received its draw for the U23 World Championships. The U.S. women freestylers will compete in Tirana, October 25-27.

Two-time Senior World champion and returning U23 World champion Amit Elor opens her 72 kg competition against 2020 Olympian and 2020 African Senior champion Zaneb Sghaier of Tunisia. In the top half-bracket, she could again face Wiktoria Choluj of Poland, who she beat in the 2022 U23 World finals.

At 65 kg, 2023 Senior World silver medalist and five-time age-group World medalist Macey Kilty draws Gilbery Garcia Franco of Venezuela, who was ninth in 2021 Pan American U23 Championships, in a pig-tail match. Kilty is in the top half-bracket. A win would put her against 2023 U20 World bronze medalist Ksenia Tsiarena (AIN-Belarus). Also in her half bracket is 2021 Senior World champion and three-time Senior World medalist Irina Ringaci of Moldova.

Overall, there are eight athletes on the U.S. U23 World Team who are on the Senior National Team for the United States, earning a ranking in the top three in the nation at their weight class. Seven of these athletes have won at least one age-group World medal in the past. Joining Elor and Kilty from the Senior National Team are Audrey Jimenez (50 kg), Katie Gomez (53 kg), Alisha Howk (55 kg), Xochitl Mota-Pettis (57 kg), Adaugo Nwachukwu (62 kg) and Kennedy Blades (76 kg). 

Jimenez, who boasts three age-group World medals, opens against Ana Maria Torres Rubio of Spain, who was fifth in the 2016 and 2017 U17 World Championships. Jimenez is in the bottom bracket, and faces athletes from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, AIN-Russia, UWW-India and Moldova in her half-bracket.

Gomez, a 2021 U17 World champion and two-time age-group World medalist, will compete first against Beatrice Ferent of Romania, who was fifth in 2021 and 2023 U23 European Championships. If she wins, she draws 2023 Senior World bronze medalist Mairana Dragutan of Moldova. Also in her half-bracket, Gomez could face 2022 U20 World silver medalist Altyn Shagayeva of Kazakhstan.

Howk, a 2022 U23 World bronze medalist, opens against Immaculata Danise of Italy, who is fifth in 2023 U23 Europeans. In the top of the bracket, her half-bracket features athletes from Kazakhstan, Sweden, AIN-Russia and UWW-India.

Mota-Pettis, a 2023 Senior Pan American champion, will compete against 2022 Asian Senior champion Sara Natami of Japan in her first match. She is in the top of the draw, which also features 2023 U20 World champion Alina Filipovich of Ukraine.

Nwachukwu, a 2022 U20 World bronze medalist, draws 2022 Pan American Senior silver medalist Ameyalli Jessel Rojas of Mexico in a pig-tail match. If she wins, she will face 2022 U23 World silver medalist Irina Bondar of Ukraine.

Blades, a 2020 U20 World champion and two-time age-group World medalist, will open with Patrycja Slomska of Poland, fifth in 2021 U20 European Championships.

Competing in their first age-group World Championships for Team USA are college stars Nichole Moore (59 kg) and Katerina Lange (68 kg).

Moore, an NAIA champion for Baker, who has transferred to NCAA McKendree, will face Wiktoria Karwowska of Poland, who was eighth in the 2023 U23 European Championships. Moore is in the top half-bracket of her weight. She could face 2023 U23 World bronze medalist Solomiia Vynnyk of Ukraine.or 2023 U20 World bronze medalist Kalmira Bilimbek Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan.

Lange, an NCWWC champion for Augsburg, opens with 20221 U23 World silver medalist Vusala Parfianovich an Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia. She is in the top half-bracket, which also includes 2022 U23 World bronze medalist Manola Skobelska of Ukraine.

In 2022, the U.S. finished in second place as a team in the women’s freestyle division at the U23 World Championships with four medalists.

The event is being broadcast live by FloWrestling.


At Tirana, Albania

U.S. Women’s Freestyle first round draw

50 kg – Audrey Jimenez (Tucson, Arizona/Sunkist Kids WC)

Vs. Ana Maria Torres Rubio (Spain), 10th in 2021 U23 Europeans, 5th in 2016 and 2017 U17 World Championships

53 kg – Katie Gomez (Van Nuys, Calif./Sunkist Kids WC)

Vs. Beatrice Ferent (Romania), 5th in 2021 and 2023 U23 Europeans, 2023 Francophone Games champion

55 kg – Alisha Howk (River Falls, Wis./Sunkist Kids WC)

Vs. Immaculata Danise (Italy), 5th in 2023 U20 Europeans, 5th in 2023 U23 Europeans, 8th in 2022 U20 Worlds

57 kg – Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Humble, Texas/Rise RTC)

Vs. Sara Natami (Japan), 2022 Asian Senior champion, 2nd in 2018 Asian Senior Championships

59 kg – Nichole Moore (Lebanon, Ill./LMRC)

Vs. Wiktoria Karwowska (Poland), 8th in 2023 U23 Europeans, 3rd in 2020 Poland Senior Championships

62 kg – Adaugo Nwachukwu (San Jose, Calif./Titan Mercury WC)

Vs. Ameyalli Jessel Rojas (Mexico), 2nd in 2022 Pan American Senior Championships, 2022 Mexico U23 World Team member

65 kg – Macey Kilty (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids WC)

Vs. Gilbery Garcia Franco (Venezuela), 11th in 2023 U20 Championships, 9th in 2021 Pan American U23 Championships

68 kg – Katerina Lange (Sherburn, Minn., Minnesota Storm)

Vs. Vusala Parfianovich (Individual Neutral Athlete), 7th in 2023 Senior World Championships, 2nd in 2021 U23 Worlds, 2nd in 2021 U23 Europeans

72 kg – Amit Elor (Walnut Creek, Calif./New York City RTC/Titan Mercury WC)

Vs. Zaneb Sghaier (Tunisia), 2020 Olympian, 2020 African Seniror champion, 5th in 2022 U20 Worlds

76 kg – Kennedy Blades (Chicago, Ill./Sunkist Kids WC)

Vs. Patrycja Slomska (Poland), 9th in 2022 U20 Worlds, 5th in 2021 U20 Europeans,

U23 World Championships Women’s Freestyle Event Schedule

Wednesday, October 25

10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)

4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)

Thursday, October 26

10:30  a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg) and Repechage (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)

4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)

6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)

Friday, October 27

10:30 a.m. – Repechage (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)

6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)