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Valencia upsets Shilson in semifinals, multiple World medalists Kilty, Elor reach finals at USMC Women’s U23 Nationals

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Nyla Valencia of Bulldog WC and Emily Shilson of TMWC scramble in their 50 kg semifinals at Women’s U23 Nationals. Photo by AJ Grieves.

FORT WORTH, Texas – There was some tremendous drama during the semifinals round at the USMC Women’s U23 Nationals on Saturday evening.

In the first weight class contested in the semifinals, California high school star Nyla Valencia of the Bulldog WC upset 2021 U23 World champion Emily Shilson of the Titan Mercury WC, 8-5 at 50 kg. Valencia was able to score on her takedown attacks and held off a strong comeback effort by Shilson to win the match.

To compare, Shilson has won World titles at the 17U, 20U and U23 levels. Earlier today, Valencia placed third at the U20 Nationals at 50 kg and her only international medal is a silver at the 2019 Pan American Cadet Championships. With her upset win, Valencia advances to the championship series on Sunday against NAIA Nationals champion Nina Pham of the Texas WC, who competes for Wayland Baptist University. Valencia has signed with the University of Iowa.

A pair of multiple age-group World medalists have powered their way to the finals, Macey Kilty of the Sunkist Kids at 62 kg and Amit Elor of the Titan Mercury WC at 72 kg.

Kilty has won five age-group World medals, including a 2018 U17 World title. Her medals have been won at the U17, U20 and U23 levels. Kilty was injured in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April 2021, and did not compete at the world level last summer. She will face 2022 NCWWC college national champion Zoe Nowicki of the Bulldog WC, who competes for Adrian College.

Elor won two World titles last year, one at the U17 level and the U20 level. She has three career age-group World medals, plus an age-group Beach World title. Earlier today, Elor earned a spot on the 2022 U20 World Team. She will battle Marlynne Deede of the Twin Cities RTC, a NCWWC All-American for Augsburg for the title.

2022 U.S. Senior Open champion Felicity Taylor of the Titan Mercury WC earned a spot in the 53 kg finals. She will face Texas native and NCWWC All-American Samara Chavez of Team Tornado WC, who competes for King University.

A 2022 NCWWC national champion from King has reached the finals at 65 kg, Ashlynn Ortega of Team Tornado WC. Ortega beat Grace Stem of Team Pennsylvania, a No. 1 ranked high school wrestler, by a 10-0 technical fall in the semifinals. She will battle NAIA national runner-up Emma Walker of Tennessee in the finals, who wrestles for Campbellsville University.

Reaching the finals at 76 kg is two-time NCWWC national champion Yelena Makoyed of Titan Mercury WC/Cardinal WC, who competes for North Central College. In a rematch of the 2022 NCWWC finals, Makoyed beat Joye Levendusky of the McKendree Bearcat WC, 10-0. Makoyed will face Ashley Lekas of the Texas Pride WC in the finals.

Two-time age-group World Team member Alisha Howk of the Sunkist Kids will battle in the 55 kg finals series against Menlo College’s Alana Vivas of the Menlo WC, who placed third at the NAIA Nationals this year.

The 68 kg finals will feature King’s NCWWC All-American Ana Luciano of the Team Tornado WC, who has drawn Lydia Krauss of the Simmons Academy of Wrestling in Michigan, who holds a No.8 high school national ranking.

Brenda Reyna of Army WCAP, a past star for McKendree, has reached the 59 kg finals, where she will square off with Niya Teresita Gaines of the Cardinal WC, who was second in the 2022 NCWWC Nationals for North Central College.

The 57 kg finals will feature Nichole Moore of Kansas, who was fifth in the 2022 NAIA Championships for Baker, and Sara Sterner of the Morro Bay WC of California.

In the U23 World Team Trials, any age-eligible member of the Senior National Team may elect to compete at the U23 World Championships. In weights in which there are no such Senior National Team members, the U23 Nationals champion gets the chance to compete. Click here for U23 World Team procedures.

The best-of-three Championship Series and medal matches at the U23 Nationals will begin at 9:30 a.m. CT and is broadcast live by FloWrestling.


At Fort Worth, Texas

Championship Series pairings

50 kg - Nyla Valencia (Bulldog WC) vs. Nina Pham (Texas WC)

53 kg - Samara Chavez (Team Tornado WC) vs. Felicity Taylor (Titan Mercury WC)

55 kg - Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Alana Vivas (Menlo WC)

57 kg - Nichole Moore (Kansas) vs. Sara Sterner (Morro Bay Wrestling)

59 kg - Niya Teresita Gaines (Cardinal WC) vs. Brenda Reyna (Army WCAP)

62 kg - Zoe Nowicki (Bulldog WC) vs, Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids WC)

65 kg - Ashlynn Ortega (Team Tornado WC) vs. Emma Walker (Tennessee)

68 kg - Ana Luciano (Team Tornado WC) vs, Lydia Krauss (Simmons Academy Of Wrestling)

72 kg - Amit Elor CA (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Marlynne Deede (Twin Cities RTC)

76 kg - Yelena Makoyed (Titan Mercury WC) tech fall Ashley Lekas (Texas Pride WC)

Semifinal results

50 kg

Nyla Valencia CA (Bulldog WC) dec. Emily Shilson MN (Titan Mercury WC (TMWC)), 8-5

Nina Pham CA (Texas WC) tech fall Danielle Garcia CA (Team Tornado WC), 12-2 3:12

53 kg

Samara Chavez TX (Team Tornado WC) pin Itzel Medina-Valdez CA (California), 0:40

Felicity Taylor IL (Titan Mercury WC (TMWC)) tech fall Angela Lorusso FL (Florida), 10-0 1:45

55 kg

Alisha Howk WI (Sunkist Kids WC) tech fall Trinity Howard AZ (Arizona), 11-0 3:28

Alana Vivas HI (Menlo WC) pin Nia Perez RI (Rhode Island), 8-0 1:27

57 kg

Nichole Moore KS (Kansas) tech fall Charlotte Kouyoumtjian MN (Twin Cities RTC), 13-2 5:37

Sara Sterner CA (Morro Bay Wrestling) pin Melanie Mendoza CA (Team Tornado WC), 3:40

59 kg

Niya Teresita Gaines IL (Cardinal WC) tech fall Alexandra Baudhuin ND (North Dakota), 10-0 1:24

Brenda Reyna WA (Army WCAP) tech fall Lana Perez HI (Hawaii), 12-2 3:56

62 kg

Zoe Nowicki MI (Bulldog WC) dec. Louisa Schwab CA (California), 4-2

Macey Kilty WI (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Academy) pin Madyson Gray KS (Lawrence Elite WC), 2:57

65 kg

Ashlynn Ortega CO (Team Tornado WC) tech fall Grace Stem PA (Team Pennsylvania), 10-0 3:25

Emma Walker TN (Tennessee) pin Viktorya Torres WA (Team Tornado WC), 1:24

68 kg

Ana Luciano FL (Team Tornado WC) pin Dalia Garibay CA (Colorado Mesa WC), 6-2 1:31

Lydia Krauss MI (Simmons Academy Of Wrestling) tech fall Aspen Barber CO (Betterman Elite Wrestling), 10-0 1:39

72 kg

Amit Elor CA (Titan Mercury WC (TMWC)) tech fall Latifah Mcbryde NY (Bulls WC), 10-0 0:58

Marlynne Deede UT (Twin Cities RTC) tech fall Kenya-lee Sloan TN (Tennessee), 12-2 5:19

76 kg

Yelena Makoyed CA (Titan Mercury WC (TMWC)) tech fall Joye Levendusky NY (McKendree Bearcat WC), 10-0 2:00

Ashley Lekas TX (Texas Pride WC) dec. Tristan Kelly CO (Army (WCAP)), 11-3