Two-time national champion Adaugo Nwachukwu of William Penn celebrates after staging a semifinal comeback at the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Two-time national champion Adaugo Nwachukwu of William Penn celebrates after staging a semifinal comeback at the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships.

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Nwachukwu, Moreno headline NAIA finalists, Menlo clinches team title with 10 All-Americans

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – All ten No. 1 seeds have advanced to the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Championships finals, which are set for 7 p.m. (CT) on Saturday at Harold Newman Arena, and Menlo College has clinched its first NAIA team title in program history on the strength of 10 All-Americans.

In his first season at the helm, Menlo head coach Michael Ayala has guided the Oaks to the top of the NAIA ranks with a collective team effort. The Atherton, Calif., based squad has sailed past the field with just one finalist, top-seed Tavia Heidelberg-Tillitson at 191 pounds, leading second place Life University by 35.5 pounds entering the final session.

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 one fourth place finisher, one sixth place finisher and three seventh place finishers to round out the All-America rounds on Saturday morning.

After defeating Menlo in the finals of the NWCA Nationals Duals earlier in the season, Life will finish as runner-up for the second year in a row. There is still much to gain for the dynamic Running Eagles squad as it has four women in the championship finals, the most of any program.

A unique twist to Life’s run in Jamestown includes a trio of siblings all wrestling for first place honors. The McBryde sisters, Zaynah (136 pounds), Jamilah (143 pounds) and Latifah (155 pounds), will represent Life under the championship lights, as will 130-pound standout Sarah Savidge.

Defending champion Southern Oregon University is locked into third place as a team after pushing a pair of athletes to the finals. 130-pound junior Carolina Moreno is seeking her third title in as many tries, and sophomore Caitlyn Davis, the top seed at 155 pounds, will go for her first title after finishing in fourth place last year for Central Methodist.

Moreno posted a 10-0 technical fall against No. 4 seed Alyssa Randles of Providence in the semifinals. She now holds two pins and two technical falls in four matches wrestled this weekend. All that remains is a stiff test against Savidge.

Davis also posted an impressive technical fall in the semifinals, going 13-0 over No. 4 seed Flor Parker-Borrero of Evergreen. She will take on Latifah McBryde for the title.

Like Moreno, two-time defending champion Adaugo Nwachukwu of William Penn is positioned to win her third national title as a junior. She survived a bit of a semifinal scare, getting hit with a tight headlock and put on her back in the first period by Providence’s Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp. Nwachukwu recovered well for a 16-6 technical fall, her fourth bonus-point victory of the event, and will face Zaynah McBryde in the 136-pound finals.

2019 U17 World silver medalist Cristelle Rodriguez of Doane continued her dominant ways at 123 pounds with a physical, 10-0, technical fall over No. 4 seed Sophia Smith of Oklahoma City in the semifinals. Grand View’s Maya Davis is the final obstacle for Rodriguez.

Five returning national runners-up have made it back to the finals for a shot a redemption—Savidge, Latifah McBryde, Erin Hikiji of Providence at 101 pounds, Mia Palumbo of William Penn at 109 pounds, and Camille Fournier of Texas Wesleyan at 116 pounds.

Campbellsville’s Emma Walker is the only athlete seeded outside the top three to find herself in the finals. She won a tight 6-2 match in the semifinals over Southern Oregon’s Bella Amaro. Walker, the No. 6 seed at 143 pounds, stands opposite Jamilah McBryde this evening.

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

NAIA Women's Wrestling Championships Semifinal Action

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