Women's Weekly

U.S. Women's Wrestling Just Entered A New Era

U.S. Women's Wrestling Just Entered A New Era

This weekend ushered in the next generation of women's wrestling, and the future is bright.

Nov 7, 2023 by Kyle Klingman

Welcome to a new era of women’s wrestling in the United States. 

The University of Iowa is here to stay, high school girls are winning college opens, 44 states offer sanctioned girls high school wrestling, the NCAA is close to sanctioned championships, the NAIA sanctioned women’s wrestling, New York will use freestyle rules for scholastic competitions, and participation numbers are exploding.

Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. This will be a fun ride. 

Weekend results are a microcosm of what’s happening nationwide. High school girls and college freshmen performed at college tournaments at an alarming rate. The growth of women’s wrestling means more opportunities, better training, and higher levels of competition. 

“The landscape is changing so fast,” USA Wrestling Women’s National Team coach Terry Steiner said. “We’re going to have people popping up that we haven’t heard of. We might not even know our 2028 Olympians yet. Great things happen when you have this much growth this fast. It’s a numbers game. I think that’s what’s happening: you have young kids that are coming in and challenging. 

“Kids at a younger and younger age are getting better coaching, more attention, and they’re developing. We can see it at the senior level. There used to be a separation between our senior-level athletes and our U20 athletes. There’s still some but it’s not a lot. The age is getting younger and younger of people that can be successful. That’s a great thing.”

Rising Stars Have Arrived

Wyoming Seminary’s Rianne Murphy was among the national prep stars who found success at a college tournament over the weekend. She won the East Stroudsburg Open at 109 pounds after finishing second at Super 32 — one of the nation’s largest high school tournaments — at 100 pounds a few days prior. 

“Winning a college open reaffirms what I’ve already known: I am capable and ready for the next level in wrestling,” Murphy said. “Confidence is essential to my performance, and I needed to bump up a weight class from 46 kg to 50 kg for the junior division. I wanted to get experience against girls at a higher weight. With any tournament, I leave knowing what I need to continue to work and improve on, but any doubts regarding going up in weight and divisions are diminished.”

Murphy’s teammate, Clare Booe, won the 116-pound class with wins over two ranked college girls. Wyoming Seminary placed third as a team (remember, this is a college tournament) with two champions, two runners-up, and one third-place finish. Wyoming Seminary alumnus Virginia Foard (a true freshman at King University) won the 123-pound bracket with a fall over her teammate, who happens to be a two-time All-American. 

It should also be noted that Wyoming Seminary predominantly competes in freestyle tournaments throughout the season. 

True freshmen Ariana Martinez of Life University (116) and Kalila Shrive of Menlo College (170) won titles at the Menlo Open, while Iowa’s Haley Ward (170) and Alyvia White (191) were Princeton Open champions. 

Taina Fernandez — a high school freshman — finished second at Princeton while Jordyn Fouse and Sarah Henckel placed third. Fouse pinned 2022 U.S. Open champion and NAIA national finalist Nanea Estrella of Iowa in the consolation finals and also defeated Presbyterian’s Paige Wehrmeister — a third-place finisher at the 2023 National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships. Karlee Brooks and Skylar Hattendorf of the Elite Accelerator Program won Maverick Open titles, while Mishell Rebisch finished third. 

“We’re finally getting a crop of girls that have been wrestling their entire lives,” Life University coach Ashley Flavin said. “Some of these freshmen have more experience than our seniors.”

Iowa had a successful opening weekend by defeating East Stroudsburg 43-1 and crowning six champions at the Princeton Open, along with two seconds, two thirds, a fourth, two fifths, and a sixth-place finish. 

What Happened At Pan-Ams?

However, the United States finished fourth at the recent Pan-American Games with only two medals: gold and bronze. Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador placed ahead of a domestic squad comprised of six national team members. 

That leaves more questions than answers as several of our best wrestlers — including Sarah Hildebrandt, Helen Maroulis, and Adeline Gray — are presumably retiring from competition after the 2024 Olympics. 

“You can’t be partially in and be successful in this sport. You have to be all in,” Steiner said. “That means everything. That means learning from the people ahead of you. Learn from situations so you don’t have to learn from your own mistakes. The shortest route to something is learning from someone else so you don’t have to go through every step of it. That’s what I hope. The level is getting tougher everywhere so we have to make sure we’re doing that.

“The other thing with Pan-Ams is we don’t value that competition. The South American countries — the Pan-Am countries — they value it. It means something to them. It has to mean something to us. You have to rise to that level of emotion. I don’t know if it means something to us. 

“Our next Olympic qualifier is the Pan-Am Olympic qualifier in March. We better be excited about being there. We better understand what’s on the line and hopefully, we can get our best athletes there to do it.”

Be Like Sarah

Steiner uses Sarah Hildebrandt — a four-time World medalist and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist — as an example. He says she was 70 percent in from 2014 to 2016 and didn’t make a World team as a result. 

Hildebrandt jumped levels when she went all in and lived the right lifestyle. Her results skyrocketed as a result. That’s why he wants Hildebrandt, Maroulis, Gray, and others to mentor the next generation.

“It would be great to have them involved and around the program as mentors by teaching and giving back what they’ve learned,” Steiner said. "Hopefully, they see the value in giving back and teaching the next group. We need the people behind them to step up. We need them to be all in. 

“We need to understand that no one is just going to give us medals. What Adeline and Helen and Sarah and Jacarra (Winchester) and Kayla (Miracle) and Mallory (Velte) have done is extraordinary. That just doesn’t happen just by being partially in. The next group will have to step up and listen and learn from those people as well.”

College Open Champions And Results

East Stroudsburg Open in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
101: Mia Zuniga (King)
109: Rianne Murphy (Wyoming Seminary)
116: Clare Booe (Wyoming Seminary)
123: Virginia Foard (King)
130: Maria Baez-Dillone (King)
136: Claire DiGugno (King)
143: Lili Ujfalvi (Gannon)
155: Madison Sandquist (Sacred Heart)
170: Love Daley (Sacred Heart)
191: Sandra Guerrero (New Jersey City)

Click Here For Full East Stroudsburg Results

Princeton Open in Princeton, New Jersey
101: Emilie Gonzalez (Iowa)
109: Ava Bayless (Iowa)
116: Brianna Gonzalez (Iowa)
123: Felicity Taylor (Iowa)
130: Alex Town (London WWC)
136: Marisol Nugent (Sunkist Kids)
143: Maya Letona (NYRTC)
155: Stella Steigler (Lock Haven
170: Haley Ward (Iowa)
191: Alivia White (Iowa) 

Click Here For Full Results

Menlo Open in Atherton, California
101: Erin Hikiji (Providence)
109: Emma Baertlein (Southern Oregon)
116: Ariana Martinez (Life)
123: Camille Fournier (Texas Wesleyan)
130: Carolina Moreno (Southern Oregon)
136: Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp (Providence)
143: Jamilah McBryde (Unattached-Life)
155: Caitlyn Davis (Southern Oregon)
170: Kalila Shrive (Menlo)
191: Tavia Heidelberg-Tillotson (Menlo)
235: Faith Wooley (Umpqua CC)

Click Here For Menlo Open Results

Pointer Open in Stevens Point, Wisconsin
101: Madison Avila (North Central)
109: Kendra Ryan (North Central)
116: Sydney Petzinger (North Central)
123: Amani Jones (North Central)
130: Alexis Janiak (Aurora)
136: Yele Aycock (North Central)
143: Lauren Louive (Unattached)
155: London Houston (North Central)
170: Jade Herzer (Wisconsin-Stevens Point)
191: Brittyn Corbishley (North Central)
191+: Kate Riege (Wisconsin-Stevens Point)

Click Here For Pointer Open Results

Maverick Open in Grand Junction, Colorado
101: Jennesis Martinez (Colorado Mesa)
109: Adriana Gomez (Colorado Mesa)
116: Charlotte Fowler (Unattached)
123: Karlee Brooks (EAP)
130: Alex Hedrick (Unattached)
136: Piper Cadden (Unattached-Fort Hays State)
143: Skylar Hattendorf (EAP)
155: Celina Cooke (Colorado Mesa)
170: Alison Evans (Unattached)
191: Jayleen Sekona (Colorado Mesa)

Click Here For Maverick Open Results

Luther Hill Open in Indianola, Iowa
101: Erica Pastoriza (Unattached-William Jewel)
109: Mia Palumbo (William Penn)
116: Flavia Nagatani (Iowa Western CC)
123: Catherine Steinkamp (William Penn)
130: Cayden Condit (Lindenwood)
136: Devin Patton (William Penn)
143: Lilly Gough (Central Methodist)
155: Ferny Hernandez (Iowa Western CC)
170: Kami Senlycki (Wartburg)
191: Joanna Hendricks (Waldorf)
235: Kiara Boldridge (Southeast CC)

Click Here For Luther Hill Results

Trojan Open in Mount Olive, North Carolina
101: Lily Prendergast (Unattached)
109: Gracie Elliott (Cumberlands)
116: Leah Edwards (Unattached)
123: Trinity Howard (Montreat)
130: Madisyn Blackburn (Brewton-Parker/Unattached)
136: Kailani Barrientos (Unattached)
143: Olivia Hogan (Cumberlands)
155: Hannah Catungal (Bluefield State)
170: Saiheron Preciado-Meza (Cumberlands)
191: Naomi Duenas (Unattached)

Click Here For Trojan Open Results

Tiffin Open in Tiffin, Ohio
101: Juliana Alejandro (Tiffin)
109: Jenavi Alejandro (Tiffin)
116: Carleigh Czerneski (Adrian)
123: Angela LoRusso (Adrian)
130: Alexis Lazar (Michigan Revolution)
136: Madison Small (Trine)
143: Taylor Cutler (Adrian)
155: Cydney Bassett (Indiana Tech)
170: Riley Winters (Indiana Tech)
191: Sakeena Hudgin (Beat the Streets Cleveland)

Click Here For Tiffin Open Results

Falcon Invite in Park City, Kansas
101: Odelia Lopez (Schreiner)
109: Alexsys Jacquez (Saint Mary)
116: Joneisha Kennedey (Wayland Baptist)
123: Ileah Brown (Schreiner)
130: Alisha Van Scoy (Saint Mary)
136: Gianna Moreno (Friends)
143: Aevri Ciha (Doane)
155: Randie Scoon (Ottawa)
170: Darby Weidl (Ottawa University)
191: Lessly Sandoval (Saint Mary)

Click Here For Full Falcon Invite Results

Jim Fox Invite in Dubuque, Iowa
109: Brianna Richey (Dubuque)
116: Shea Reisel (Dubuque)
136: Claire Schaffner (Eureka)
143: Mattie Papenthien (Dubuque)
155: Alex Hofrichter (Dubuque)
170: Madison Farris (Eureka)

Click Here For Full Jim Fox Invite Results

Mountaineer Open in La Grande, Oregon
101: Jahlee Deguzman (Big Bend CC)
109: Stephanie Blankenship (Eastern Oregon)
116: Genesis Vazquez (Washington State)
123: Alexandria Kauffman-Templeton (Gray Harbor)
130: Anna Rodriguez (Eastern Oregon)
136: Kaidence Gerg (Unattached)
143: Elise Scrafford (Evergreen State)
155: Liv Wieber (Eastern Oregon)
170: Viktoriya Dovhoruka (Evergreen State)
190: Renaeh Ureste (Gray Harbor)

Click Here For Full Mountaineer Open Results

SFU Open in Burnaby, British Columbia
50 kg: Katie Dutchak (Saskatoon WC)
53 kg: Diana Weicker (Brock WC)
55 kg: Karla Godinez Gonzalez (BMWC)
57 kg: Tianna Kennett (Dinos WC)
59 kg: Laura Alcantar Soto (SFU)
62 kg: Ana Godinez Gonzalez (BMWC)
65 kg: Angela Aalbers (Saskatoon WC)
68 kg: Katie Mulkay (Edmonton WC)
72 kg: Paige Maher (SFU)
76 kg: ianne Rouleau (Edmonton WC)
90 kg: Myah Phillips (Saskatoon WC)

Click Here For SFU Open Results