2023 Women's National Championships & World Team Trials

Elor, Welker, Blades Headline U20 Field at Women's Nationals

Elor, Welker, Blades Headline U20 Field at Women's Nationals

Young stars Amit Elor, Kylie Welker and Kennedy Blades are three of the top U20 contestants who will be in the field at this weekend's Women's Nationals.

Apr 12, 2023 by Derek Levendusky
Elor, Welker, Blades Headline U20 Field at Women's Nationals

For the first time, Women’s Nationals will take place in Spokane, Washington this weekend as U15, U17, U20, and U23 divisions will all produce a new roster of World and National teamers for USA Wrestling. There’s currently more than 1,000 entries for the event.

Women’s Nationals — once known as Body Bar — always provides plenty of intrigue as the U20 and U23 divisions feature matchups between some of the best high school and college wrestlers.

Here’s a preview of the U20 division:

The biggest story in this division might well be the potential rematch at 76 kilograms between Kennedy Blades and Kylie Welker. These two have proven to be world-class, both earning Junior World titles in 2021. When they last met at Senior World Team Trials in 2021, it was Welker who got the upper hand, winning the best-of-three series with a 4-4 win and medical forfeit in a match she led 3-1. Overall, the U20 division has never been deeper. The division also features returning U20, U23, and Senior world champion Amit Elor, who begins her 2023 run here.

Weights To Watch

50 kg may be the toughest weight in the history of the U20 division at this event. The weight class is so deep that there will be big names and elite wrestlers who won’t even place in the top eight. This year’s entries feature U20 silver medalist Audrey Jimenez, two-time NAIA national finalist Mia Palumbo, Iowa wrestlers Sterling Dias, Nyla Valencia and Emilie Gonzalez, California state champ Anaya Falcon, NCWWC runner-up Jenavi Alejandro, 2021 Fargo champion Valarie Solorio, NAIA runner-up Erin Hikiji, NCWWC 101-pound champion Madison Avila, and King wrestlers Sage Mortimer (who took second this year to Emily Shilson in at the NCWWC) and Dianna Holmes (who placed third). There are other names with solid resumes, but needless to say, this group is loaded.

53 kg is also deep at the top, featuring U16 world champion Katie Gomez and two-time Fargo finalist Kiely Tabaldo, both from California. The group also includes top-ranked high school wrestler Alexandra Szkotnicki of Maryland, 2021 16U runner-up Zao Estrada South Carolina, and two-time college All-American Sydney Petzinger from North Central’s Cardinal Wrestling Club.

Also keep an eye on 59 kg, where 2021 Junior World bronze medalist Korina Blades is entered, along with college hammers Sarah Savidge, Alexis Janiak and Skye Realin. Life U’s Savidge was second in the NAIA, Aurora’s Janiak was second in the NCAA, and Central Methodist Realin is a two-time All-American. High school #1 Emily Sindoni from New York is also at this weight.

62 kg has some intriguing matchups, with three age-level World teamers entered at this weight. 2022 U23 bronze medalist and two-time NAIA national champion Adaugo Nwachukwu is the favorite here, but not far behind is New Hampshire’s Skylar Hattendorf. These two hit in the best-of-three finals last year, with Nwachukwu coming out on top 2-1 in the series. Hattendorf won a Cadet World silver in 2019. Cosme is a two-time age-group World teamer, making the Cadet team in 2021 and the Junior world team in 2022. Presbyterian’s Paige Wehrmeister is also in this group. She took third in the NCAA this last month and is ranked #10 in our Senior Women’s Freestyle Rankings. 

65 kg is also stacked with talent, with current high school #1 Maddie Kubicki of Missouri, 2021 Junior World teamer Claire DiCugno of Washington, North Central All-American London Houston, Southern Oregon All-American Bella Amaro, and two-time Fargo champion Skylar Little Soldier of Minnesota.

Wrestlers To Watch

At 55 kg, the favorite has to be Cardinal Wrestling Club’s Amani Jones, who took second last month at the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships.

At 57 kg, New York’s Sofia Macaluso, an All-American for East Stroudsburg this year, is the returning World teamer and won a silver medal last year at U20 Worlds. California’s Cristelle Rodriguez was a Cadet World silver medalist in 2019, and don’t forget about Washington’s Shelby Moore, ranked #2 in the high school P4P ranking. She was a 2022 U17 World teamer, when she took fifth at Worlds.

68 kg features two elite teammates from Augsburg University, Katie Lange, who won a college national title this year, and Nina Makem, a two-time All-American.

As previously mentioned, watch bright young stars Amit Elor at 72 kg, and Blades-Welker at 76 kg.

Dark Horses 

Here’s a few names to watch that might not be the favorites to win but could pull upsets and make deep runs. California state champ Carissa Qureshi is one to pay attention to at 55 kg. At 59 kg, Pennsylvania's Lily Sherer was an All-American for Lock Haven and has been wrestling well lately. Colorado’s Janida Garcia is also dangerous at this weight, currently ranked #2 in high school and #12 in the P4P.

68 kg Maggie Graham of Tennessee is a four-time state champ and is ranked #7 in the country in high school. She’s a Life University commit and can make some noise at this weight. At 76 kg, Shenita Lawson was very tough in college this year as a freshman for Grand View where she placed fifth in the NAIA. It’s hard to think anyone could beat Blades or Welker in this group other than Blades or Welker, but Lawson could otherwise do very well at this weight. 

Women’s Nationals will live stream April 14-16 on FloWrestling.