Valerie Hamilton of Illinois works for a turn in the 145-pound quarterfinals at the Air Force Special Warfare Folkstyle Nationals.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Valerie Hamilton of Illinois works for a turn in the 145-pound quarterfinals at the Air Force Special Warfare Folkstyle Nationals.

USAWHS_YouthWomen

Defending champions Utterback, Hamilton, Matakaiongo back in Junior girls finals at Air Force Special Warfare Folkstyle Nationals

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Junior girls finals are set at the Air Force Special Warfare 16U and Junior Folkstyle Nationals with three defending champions earning a return trip to the grand finale at the UNI Dome.


Among those one win away from a Folkstyle Nationals repeat is 145-pound hammer Valerie Hamilton of Illinois, who was a U17 World silver medalist in 2022. Hamilton picked up three falls, plus a uniquely puzzling 36-19 technical fall, on her road to tomorrow morning’s finals.


Hamilton will face Gretchen Donally of Montana, who won both the Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals and National Girls High School Recruiting Showcase in 2023, for the top prize in Cedar Falls. The pair are two of the top ranked wrestlers nationally at 145 pounds, with Hamilton slotting in at No. 4 and Donally at No. 2 as of the most recent National Girls High School Rankings.


Another top-four championship showdown comes at 170 pounds between No. 3 Naomi Simon of Iowa and No. 4 Amarisa Manuel of Michigan. In fact, 21 of the 30 finalists in the Junior girls division are nationally ranked.


Reanah Utterback of Iowa and Tilisa Matakaiongo of Utah join Hamilton as returning champions with a shot at repeating. Utterback will see Caley Graber of Minnesota in the 110-pound finals, while Matakaiongo is up against Ella Brown of Iowa at 235 pounds.


Two defending champions were upended in the early stages of the growing national event. Gigi Bragg of Michigan was pinned by Idaho’s Rihanna Mora in the 115-pound quarterfinals. Leiannah Landreth of Kansas dropped a razor thin 8-7 semifinal to Alexis Schneider of North Dakota at 120 pounds in a match decided on a challenged takedown at the buzzer.


2023 U17 World bronze medalist Heather Crull of Indiana went three-for-three on pins to make her way to the 105-pound championship contest against fellow Hoosier Makenize Smith. Crull wrestled three minutes and 23 seconds in total across her three bouts.


Reigning 16U Folkstyle Nationals champions Kendall Moe of Indiana, Lilliana Banks of Wisconsin, Skylar Slade of Iowa and Ella Brown of Iowa each found themselves in the finals after impressive runs in their respective brackets.


The Air Force Special Warfare 16U and Junior Folkstyle Nationals is the first leg of the USA Wrestling Triple Crown award. The competition resumes at 9 a.m. (CT) on Saturday with the Junior boys semifinals, Junior girls finals, and the start of the 16U boys and Masters events.


Fans can watch the event live on FloWrestling.com. Brackets and match-by-match results are available on Trackwrestling.com.


For more information about this event, please visit usawrestlingevents.com.

Loading...

USA Wrestling Logo Secondary Stroke

Follow us

MEMBERSHIP

  • Accessibility
  • Site Map
  • Terms of Use , opens in a new tab
  • Privacy Policy , opens in a new tab
  • Ombuds , opens in a new tab

© 2024 USA Wrestling. All Rights Reserved.