Carolina Moreno of Southern Oregon finishes a takedown in the 130-pound quarterfinals on Friday night at Harold Newman Arena
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Carolina Moreno of Southern Oregon finishes a takedown in the 130-pound quarterfinals on Friday night at Harold Newman Arena

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Moreno, Nwachukwu on track for third title, Menlo leads team race at NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Two-time defending NAIA champions Carolina Moreno of Southern Oregon and Adaugo Nwachukwu of William Penn remain in the hunt for a three-peat after dominant day one efforts at the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships.


Both Moreno and Nwachukwu won three matches with bonus points on Friday at Harold Newman Arena on the campus of the University of Jamestown. Moreno notched two pins and a technical fall at 130 pounds, while Nwachukwu kept consistent with three pins at 136 pounds.


After a 10-0 technical fall over No. 8 seed Lillian Avalos of Vanguard in the quarterfinals, Moreno steps up to face No. 4 Alyssa Randles of Providence in tomorrow morning’s semifinal round, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. (CT).


Nwachukwu, a three-time age-group World Team member for Team USA and 2022 U20 World bronze medalist, notched a second-period pin over unseeded Stephanie Chavez of Menlo in her quarterfinal. Up next is No. 4 seed Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp of Providence.

Entering as the top-ranked tournament team in the country, Menlo College moved three wrestlers to the semifinals and kept seven women alive in the consolations to take a 13-point lead in the team race over second place Life University. Kayla Mckinley-Johnson at 101 pounds, Kalila Shrive at 170 pounds and Tavia Heidelberg-Tillitson at 191 pounds are the trio of championship contenders for Menlo.


Second-ranked Life University, who won the NWCA National Duals over Menlo, posted a strong quarterfinal round that pushed five of its wrestlers to the semifinals—Diana Gonzalez at 109 pounds, Sarah Savidge at 130 pounds, Zaynah McBryde at 136 pounds, Jamilah McBryde at 143 pounds and Latifah McBryde at 155 pounds. Life’s five semifinalists is the most of any team.


With Menlo and Life separating from the pack as the experts predicted, the race for third is one to keep an eye on moving into Saturday. Grand View currently holds the No. 3 spot with 88 team points. Defending champions Southern Oregon slot in at No. 4 with 80 points. Both programs have four semifinalists and three left in the consolations. Scrappy Texas Wesleyan sits in fifth place with 72.5 points.

NAIA Championships Day One Action

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Top-ranked Mia Palumbo, a U20 Pan American champion and 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifier, picked up two technical falls at 109 pounds, setting up a semifinal showdown with No. 4 seed Paige Morales of Providence in the morning. No. 2 seeds Joanna Vanderwood at 123 and Ashley Lekas at 170 pounds joined Nwachukwu and Palumbo as semifinalists for William Penn, an impressive quartet that puts the program in seventh place overall.


2019 U17 World silver medalist Cristelle Rodriguez of Doane earned three bonus-point wins as the top seed at 123 pounds. She logged less than four minutes of mat time on Friday, putting herself among the most dominant wrestlers of the event thus far. No. 4 Sophia Smith of Oklahoma City is Rodriguez’s semifinal opponent.


All 10 No. 1 seeds advanced to the semifinal round in Jamestown. Two No. 2 seeds were bit by the upset bug on Friday— Alexsys Jacquez of St. Mary at 109 pounds and Mea Mohler of Texas Wesleyan at 143 pounds. The only unseeded wrestler to go undefeated on day one was Madison Diaz of Grand View at 143 pounds.


Updated brackets, match-by-match results and a live stream of the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships are available at FloWrestling.com.

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