Menlo College wins the 2024 NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships national team title in Jamestown, N.D.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Menlo College wins the 2024 NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships national team title in Jamestown, N.D.

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Heidelberg-Tillitson punctuates NAIA team title for Menlo College, Moreno and Nwachukwu become three-timers, Rodriguez named OW

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Entering Saturday evening’s championship session with the team trophy in hand, Menlo College saw Tavia Heidelberg-Tillitson take the top spot at 191 pounds to put an exclamation mark on the Oaks historic run at the 2024 NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships.

The fifth-year heavyweight from Sacramento, Calif., finally broke through for a college national title with a gutsy 4-3 win over No. 2 seed Joanna Hendricks of Waldorf. It is the fifth All-America honor for Heidelberg-Tillitson, who now holds three at the NAIA level with Menlo, plus two NCWWC finals appearances from her time at King University.  

Four Menlo athletes battled back for third place honors— Mayla Mckinley-Johnson at 101 pounds, Alana Vivas at 123 pounds, Shannon Workinger at 155 pounds and Kalila Shrive at 170 pounds. The Oaks tacked on a fourth-place finisher, a sixth-place finisher and three seventh-place finishers to round out the All-America rounds on Saturday morning.

Head coach Michael Ayala helped guide Menlo to its first NAIA national title in his first season at the helm of the program and was named NWCA/NAIA National Coach of the Year. The Oaks outdistanced second place Life University by 34 points on the strength of 10 All-Americans.


Life picked up a single individual title at Harold Newman Arena on the campus of the University of Jamestown—Jamilah McBryde brought the heat against three-time All-American Emma Walker of Campbellsville with a 10-0 finish to the 143-pound finals. McBryde won all four of her bouts by technical fall without surrendering a single point, outscoring the field 41-0 on her way to the NAIA crown.

The Running Eagles captured three runner-up finishes to accompany McBryde’s championship—Sarah Savidge at 130 pounds, Zaynah McBryde at 136 pounds and Latifah McBryde at 155 pounds. Now national runners-up for the second year in a row, Life picked up eight All-Americans in total.

Two women added to the NAIA history books by earning a third national title, both doing so in commanding fashion.

Southern Oregon’s Carolina Moreno closed title run No. 3 with a second period technical fall over Savidge, who was a runner-up for the second-straight year. Her11-0 win in the 130-pound finals marked the fifth bonus-point victory of the event for the Somerton, Ariz., native.


William Penn’s Adaugo Nwachukwu struck fast with a fall over Zaynah McBryde at the 2:16 mark of the 136-pound finals. The junior from San Jose, Calif., pinned all five of her opponents on the weekend in spectacular fashion. She was a two-time NAIA champion for Iowa Wesleyan before transferring to William Penn this season.

Nwachukwu is a top contender at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials which will be held at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. next month. She was a U.S. Open champion and Final X runner-up last year, and holds a U20 World bronze medal from 2022.

Two of Nwachukwu’s William Penn teammates came away with individual titles—Mia Palumbo at 109 pounds and Ashley Lekas at 170 pounds—giving the Statesmen three tournament champions, the most of any school.

Sophomore Cristelle Rodriguez of Doane University was named outstanding wrestler of the event after finishing off the 123-pound finals with a 10-0 technical fall against Maya Davis of Grand View. She is a 2019 U17 World silver medalist, 2023 U20 World Team member and finished in fourth at last year’s U.S. Senior Nationals.


Additional women who claimed individual crowns were Stefana Jelacic of Lourdes at 101 pounds, Juliana Diaz of Missouri Baptist at 116 pounds and Caitlyn Davis of Southern Oregon at 155 pounds.

Rounding out the list of top-five teams behind Menlo and Life were defending champions Southern Oregon at No. 3, William Penn at No. 4 and Grand View at No. 5

Every champion from the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships qualified to compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Complete brackets and archived matches of the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships are available at

NAIA Women's Wrestling Championships Finals Action

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