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Missouri Fire outlasts Michigan Blue in entertaining Junior Women’s Freestyle National Duals finals, 39-28

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Missouri Fire, 2023 Junior Women's Freestyle National Duals champions
Missouri Fire, 2023 Junior Women's Freestyle National Duals champions. Photo by Austin Bernard

TULSA, Okla. – After two days of intense action featuring the largest field in history at the Junior Women’s National Duals in freestyle, Missouri Fire and Michigan Blue powered into the championship finals dual meet.

In a back-and-forth battle which featured great wrestling, it was Missouri Fire which won eight of the 14 matches to defeat Michigan Blue. Five of the eight wins by Missouri were by fall, which made a big difference in the final result. Both teams in the finals were loaded with nationally ranked stars. (We will refer to the most recent National Girls High School Rankings in May)

Missouri Fire opened with an 8-4 victory at 117 by No. 6 Angelina Vargas over young star No. 10 Alexis Lazar. Vargas used her experience advantage to jump to an 8-0 lead in the first period, but Lazar scored the next four points and made it more competitive.

Missouri Fire continued with a win at 122 by No. 18 Cassidy Benwell over No. 27 Isabella Cepak, 14-9 in a high action match. Benwell looked strong early, with a nine point lead at the break, 12-3. Cepak rallied in the second period, puting Benwell in danger, but could only close the score to 14-9.

Michigan Blue powered back with three straight wins to take an 11-9 lead. Sydney Thompson got her offense rolling at 127, on the way to a 16-4 technical fall over Ava Griffey. Thompson opened the match with a four-point takedown, and at the end, closed it out with another four-point takedown.

No. 18 Margaret Buurma was in control for the whole match on the way to an 11-3 win over Faith James at 132. Buurma led 5-0 at the break, and extended the lead in the second period with multiple takedowns and a clutch turn.

A big win for Michigan came at 138, when Alissa Caltagirone secured a 14-3 technical fall over No. 13 Jayci Shelton. Caltagirone used an effect arm throw a number of times, and also was able to turn Shelton, while racking up points.

Missouri scored back-to-back pins to power back into the lead. Louise Juitt took down Rihana Venegas, then ran an arm bar to secure a pin in 1:19 at 144 pounds. Rebecca Strong jumped to an 8-0 lead before turning Ryen Allen and securing the fall in 1:34 at 152 pounds.

Two of Michigan Blue’s hammers responded with a pair of bonus point wins. No. 9 Maddie Hayden scored a pair of four-point takedowns to close out a 14-2 technical fall over Autumn Calvert at 164 pounds. No. 1 Sabrina Nauss hit a body lock and powered to a 52 second pin over No. 3 Isabella Renfro at 180 pounds, giving Michigan Blue a 22-20 lead.

The next three matches sealed the win for Missouri Fire. At 200 pounds, Carolina Ward hit a throw and finished off a pin over Gabriella Allen in 50 seconds at 200 pounds. No. 2 Catherine Dutton was also efficient in her 40 second pin over Lillianna Garcia, getting a quick takedown then turning Garcia to her back for the fall.

The clinching win came at 100 pounds, as Sandy Breeden scored a variety of takedowns and turns to secure a 13-3 technical fall over Cheyenne Frank. Breeden led 11-3 at the break, then finished off the victory with a second-period takedown.

The final two matches were by fall in the first period, as No. 25 Zoey Haney of Missouri earned a pin at 106 pounds, and No. 10 Gigi Bragg of Michigan followed with a fall at 112 pounds over No. 24 Jayden Keller.

Pool D champion Michigan Blue earned its spot in the Gold/Silver Pool finals with three straight wins on Thursday morning, defeating, in order, Arizona Black 45-23, California Red, 40-23 and Pool A champion Ohio Red, 45-21.

There was a battle between two of the top wrestlers in the nation in the Michigan Blue win over Ohio Red in the Gold/Silver preliminaries. Sabrina Nauss, ranked No. 1 in the nation at 180 pounds, jumped up to 200 pounds, where she pinned the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 200, Savannah Isaac, in 1:45. In the National Girls High School Rankings Pound-For-Pound, Nauss is No. 4 and Isaac is No. 6.

Pool B champion Missouri Fire also won all three Thursday morning Gold/Silver Pool matches, edging Iowa, 34-30 and Pennsylvania Blue, 33-30, then stopping Colorado, 39-28.

Third place went to a tough Pennsylvania Blue team, which stopped Ohio Red, 44-20. Pennsylvania Blue opened with four straight bonus point wins by No. 9 Sierra Chiesa (117), No. 25 Savannah Witt (122), Julissa Ortiz (127) and No. 5 Jordyn Fouse (132). Witt, Ortiz and Fouse all beat ranked opponents. Ultimately, Pennsylvania won 10 of the 14 bouts.

Colorado handled California Red 43-23 to claim fifth place. After California Red won the first two matches, Colorado captured six straight matches to take over the dual meet, with wins by No. 16 Taylor Miess (127), No. 28 Timberly Martinez (132), Camryn Scott (138), No. 26 Ryen Hickey (144), Desza Munson (152) and No. 25 Nevaeh Garcia (164).

Iowa won seven of the first nine bouts to sail to a 40-24 victory over Arizona Black to place seventh. Nationally ranked winners for Iowa in the dual meet were No. 6 Skylar Slade (144), No. 7 Naomi Simon (164) and No. 13 Bella Porcelli (180).

The Junior women continue to compete in the Greco-Roman division on Friday and Saturday, with a record 19 teams competing in the classic style.

At Tulsa, Okla., June 15

Gold/Silver Results (Places 1-8)

1st Place - Missouri Fire
2nd Place - Michigan Blue
3rd Place - Pennsylvania Blue
4th Place - Ohio Red
5th Place - Colorado
6th Place - California Red
7th Place - Iowa
8th Place - Arizona Black

1st Place Match - Missouri Fire defeated Michigan Blue 39-28.
117 Angelina Vargas (Missouri Fire) over Alexis Lazar (Michigan Blue) Dec 8-4
122 Cassidy Benwell (Missouri Fire) over Isabella Cepak (Michigan Blue) Dec 14-9
127 Sydney Thompson (Michigan Blue) over Ava Griffey (Missouri Fire) TF 16-4
132 Margaret Buurma (Michigan Blue) over Faith James (Missouri Fire) Dec 11-3
138 Alissa Caltagirone (Michigan Blue) over Jayci Shelton (Missouri Fire) TF 14-3
144 Louise Juitt (Missouri Fire) over Rihanna Venegas (Michigan Blue) Fall 1:19
152 Rebecca Strong (Missouri Fire) over Ryen Allen (Michigan Blue) Fall 1:34
164 Maddie Hayden (Michigan Blue) over Autumn Calvert (Missouri Fire) TF 14-2
180 Sabrina Nauss (Michigan Blue) over Isabella Renfro (Missouri Fire) Fall 0:52
200 Caroline Ward (Missouri Fire) over Gabriella Allen (Michigan Blue) Fall 0:50
225 Catherine Dutton (Missouri Fire) over Lillianna Garcia (Michigan Blue) Fall 0:40
100 Sandy Breeden (Missouri Fire) over Cheyenne Frank (Michigan Blue) TF 13-3
106 Zoey Haney (Missouri Fire) over Tomasin Mair (Michigan Blue) Fall 2:12
112 Gigi Bragg (Michigan Blue) over Jayden Keller (Missouri Fire) Fall 1:49

3rd Place Match - Pennsylvania Blue defeated Ohio Red 44-20
117 Sierra Chiesa (Pennsylvania Blue) over Gabrielle Gartin (Ohio Red) TF 10-0
122 Savannah Witt (Pennsylvania Blue) over Cali Leng (Ohio Red) TF 13-0
127 Julissa Ortiz (Pennsylvania Blue) over Josie Davis (Ohio Red) Fall 2:39
132 Jordyn Fouse (Pennsylvania Blue) over Cassia Zammit (Ohio Red) TF 13-3
138 Jaydyn McKinney (Ohio Red) by forfeit
144 Gennaveve Matt (Ohio Red) over Leyna Rumpler (Pennsylvania Blue) Fall 3:55
152 Kylee Tait (Ohio Red) over Gabby Reid (Pennsylvania Blue) Dec 9-0
164 Jael Miller (Pennsylvania Blue) over Kate Simmons (Ohio Red) Fall 0:44
180 Alyssa Favara (Pennsylvania Blue) over Laney Oliver (Ohio Red) TF 15-4
200 Savannah Isaac (Ohio Red) over Caroline Hattala (Pennsylvania Blue) Fall 0:31
225 Mackenna Atkinson (Pennsylvania Blue) over Alexia Cowan (Ohio Red) Fall 0:32
100 Valarie Solorio (Pennsylvania Blue) over Camryn Gresham (Ohio Red) TF 11-0
106 Lexia Schechterly (Pennsylvania Blue) over Leah Willen (Ohio Red) TF 10-0
112 Ana Malovich (Pennsylvania Blue) by forfeit

5th Place Match - Colorado defeated California Red 43-23
117 Arieana Arias (California Red) over Mia Hargrove (Colorado) TF 13-3
122 Eden Hernandez (California Red) over Alexis Segura (Colorado) TF 10-0
127 Taylor Miess (Colorado) over Samantha Sachs (California Red) Fall 2:16
132 Timberly Martinez (Colorado) over Addison Ellis (California Red) Fall 4:22
138 Camryn Scott (Colorado) over Alex Maday (California Red) Fall 2:04
144 Ryen Hickey (Colorado) over Luana Stathopoulos (California Red) Dec 10-7
152 Desza Munson (Colorado) over Megan Stottsberry (California Red) TF 10-0
164 Nevaeh Garcia (Colorado) over Johanna Forman (California Red) Fall 4:01
180 Kiley McClain (California Red) over Alison Evans (Colorado) Fall 2:11
200 Natasha Kuberski (Colorado) over Anna Bozanic (California Red) Fall 1:13
225 Alysse Phillips (California Red) over Ciara Monger (Colorado) Fall 1:39
100 Monee Cordero (California Red) over Katey Valdez (Colorado) Dec 8-4
106 Alexsys Jacquez (Colorado) over Xiomara Gallego (California Red) Fall 2:48
112 Janessa George (Colorado) over Kailey Salazar (California Red) TF 12-1

7th Place Match - Iowa defeated Arizona Black 40-24.
117 Jalynn Goodale (Iowa) over Adacelli Salaiz-Noriega (Arizona Black) TF 10-0
122 Camille Schult (Iowa) over Brooklyn Perez (Arizona Black) Dec 6-4
127 Mackenzie Childers (Iowa) over Adrianna Lloyd (Arizona Black) TF 12-0
132 Hannah Rogers (Iowa) over Emma Chacon (Arizona Black) Dec 10-4
138 Isis France (Arizona Black) over Kiara Djoumessi (Iowa) TF 13-3
144 Skylar Slade (Iowa) over Dalien Duarte (Arizona Black) TF 15-4
152 Lillian Gradillas-Flores (Arizona Black) over Teegan Sulentich (Iowa) Fall 4:40
164 Naomi Simon (Iowa) over Trinity Bouchal (Arizona Black) TF 12-2
180 Bella Porcelli (Iowa) over Nylease Yzagere (Arizona Black) Fall 0:25
200 Peyton Welt (Arizona Black) over Elaine Babcock (Iowa) Dec 14-10
225 Savannah Sistad (Iowa) over Desiree Hall (Arizona Black) Fall 1:58
100 Erica Pastoriza (Arizona Black) over Layla Phillips (Iowa) TF 10-0
106 Elizabeth Valenzuela Smith (Arizona Black) over Gable Hemann (Iowa) TF 14-2
112 Lauren Whitt (Iowa) over Sevanna Aguirre (Arizona Black) Fall 3:00

Bronze/Copper Results (Places 9-16)
1st Place - Wisconsin
2nd Place - Florida
3rd Place - Texas Red
4th Place - Tennessee Red
5th Place - Illinois
6th Place - Kansas
7th Place - Minnesota Blue
8th Place - Georgia Blue
1st Place Match - Wisconsin defeated Florida 34-27.
3rd Place Match - Texas Red defeated Tennessee Red 33-30.
5th Place Match - Illinois defeated Kansas 34-29.
7th Place Match - Minnesota Blue defeated Georgia Blue 31-29.

Red/Blue Results
1st Place - Indiana
2nd Place - Virginia Blue
3rd Place - Utah
4th Place - Idaho
5th Place - Missouri Ice
6th Place - Ohio Blue
7th Place - Michigan Red
8th Place - South Carolina
1st Place Match - Indiana defeated Virginia Blue 37-26.
3rd Place Match - Utah defeated Idaho 49-17.
5th Place Match - Missouri Ice defeated Ohio Blue 51-17.
7th Place Match - Michigan Red defeated South Carolina 37-26.

Green/Yellow Results
1st Place - Washington
2nd Place - Pennsylvania Red
3rd Place - Oklahoma Red
4th Place - Texas Blue
5th Place - South Dakota Blue
6th Place - Minnesota Red
7th Place - Virginia Red
8th Place - Georgia Red
1st Place Match - Washington defeated Pennsylvania Red 38-30.
3rd Place Match - Oklahoma Red defeated Texas Blue 41-21.
5th Place Match - South Dakota Blue defeated Minnesota Red 45-21.
7th Place Match - Virginia Red defeated Georgia Red 40-20.

Purple Results
1st Place - California Blue
2nd Place - Tennessee Blue
3rd Place - Nebraska
4th Place - North Dakota Blue
5th Place - Arkansas Gold
Arkansas Gold defeated California Blue 39-28.
Tennessee Blue defeated Nebraska 35-30.
Nebraska defeated North Dakota Blue 38-24.
Tennessee Blue defeated Arkansas Gold 38-30.
North Dakota Blue defeated Tennessee Blue 34-33.
California Blue defeated Nebraska 38-27.
California Blue defeated North Dakota Blue 37-31.
Nebraska defeated Arkansas Gold 35-33.
North Dakota Blue defeated Arkansas Gold 40-29.
California Blue defeated Tennessee Blue 37-30.

White Results
1st Place - North Carolina
2nd Place - Alabama
3rd Place - North Dakota Red
4th Place - Arkansas Silver
North Carolina defeated North Dakota Red 42-28.
Alabama defeated Arkansas Silver 32-25.
Alabama defeated North Dakota Red 38-25.
North Carolina defeated Arkansas Silver 38-28.
North Dakota Red defeated Arkansas Silver 45-25.
North Carolina defeated Alabama 33-22
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