Women's Weekly

Women's Weekly: Stefana Jelacic Trending Up By Moving Down

Women's Weekly: Stefana Jelacic Trending Up By Moving Down

Stefana Jelacic is gaining by dropping down, two national champions returned, the NAIA team race is heating up, and three top teams were perfect.

Dec 4, 2023 by Kyle Klingman

Many wrestlers move up a weight class or two during their college careers. Not Stefana Jelacic of Lourdes University. 

She competed at 116 pounds during the 2021 NAIA Invitational Championships and finished third, then dropped to 109 in 2023 and finished seventh. This season, she moved to 101 pounds — the lightest women’s weight class — and the results are impressive. 

The Fountain Hill, Arizona, native has only dropped one match this season — a 3-2 semifinal setback to Iowa’s top-ranked (NCAA) Sterling Dias at the prestigious Missouri Valley Open. She bounced back for third, winning four matches by fall and one by 12-0 tech.

Her Adrian Open run was just as dominant. Jelacic won her first match by fall before reeling off three techs — including an 11-0 win over returning NCWWC (NCAA) champion Maddie Avila of North Central. 

“My match against (Avila) was a good match,” Jelacic said. “Me and my coaches actually didn’t know she was an NCAA champion last year. I went into it like any other tournament: doing my own thing.”

Jelacic went 3-0 at the Patriot Duals over the weekend with a fall and two techs. She is the current favorite to win the 2024 NAIA Championships on March 8-9 in Jamestown, North Dakota. 

A Perfect Life

Top-ranked Life University is 7-0 on the season following a 5-0 showing at the Patriot Duals on December 1-2. The Running Eagles defeated Mount Olive, 38-9, Lourdes 33-11, Indiana Tech 30-14, Emmanuel 34-10, and Campbellsville 27-17.

Three starters — Sarah Savidge, Jamilah McBryde, and Riley Dalrymple — did not compete. 

“I’d give our team a C on Friday and a B- on Saturday,” Life coach Ashley Flavin said. “Good is the enemy of great — and we want to be great in March.” 

Click here for full Patriot Duals results

Battle of the Rockies

Providence made its case as the best NAIA program in the country after a perfect showing at the Battle of the Rockies. The Argos defeated Dakota Wesleyan 45-3, Umpqua Community College 37-11, and Menlo 31-13.

“We’re excited with the team’s performance this weekend,” Providence coach Matt Atwood said. “The girls have improved drastically week after week. They’re more confident than they’ve ever been and I’m excited to watch them continue to get better as the year progresses.” 

Click here for full Batte of the Rockies results

Pioneer Power

Sacred Heart — one of four D1 NCAA women’s wrestling programs — went 4-0 at the Northeast Duals on December 3. The Pioneers defeated New Jersey City 34-11, Elmira 39-5, East Stroudsburg 34-12, and 36-10. The Pioneers are 5-2 on the season following setbacks to Iowa and Lindenwood at the Trailblazer Duals on November 12 in Iowa City. 

Former New York stars and All-Americans Ally Fitzgerald (Sacred Heart) and Mia Macaluso (East Stroudsburg) squared off at 123 pounds in the featured match of the Northeast Duals. Macaluso scored the first takedown but Fitzgerald scored 10 straight points for a 10-2 victory. 

“I’m very pleased with how we wrestled,” Sacred Heart Paulina Biega said. “Things that we have been working on are finally starting to come together. Dots are being connected. 

“Yes, there are certainly a lot of things that we still have to work on, fix, and improve — but I’m seeing progress in our technicality and execution. A lot of the girls tried new elements that I have recently incorporated into our training and they are feeling them in live matches, which is great. 

“Isn’t that what this journey is all about: progress, improvement, and enjoyment? Besides, how could I not be happy when I’m blessed with such an awesome group? There is still more to come from us.”

Final Standings:
Sacred Heart (4-0)
East Stroudsburg (3-1)
Elmira (2-2)
Western New England (1-3)
NJCU (0-4) 

National Champions Return To Competition

Two college national champions returned to competition and both picked up where they left off. McKendree’s Cam Guerin and Lindenwood’s Caitlyn Thorne competed in the Jewell Duals on Saturday, December 2 and both had dominant performances. 

Cam Guerin, a three-time NCWWC (NCAA) champion at 130 pounds from 2020-22, earned falls over Lindenwood’s Cayden Condit and Missouri Baptist’s Riley White. Guerin is part of a powerful McKendree squad that will contend for the 2024 National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids.

"I was super excited to get some wins this weekend," Guerin said. "I did my job, dominated, and the work continues."

Thorne won an NAIA Championship at 116 pounds for Central Methodist last season before transferring to NCAA Division I Lindenwood. Thorne won three matches, including a fall over McKendree’s Shayla Shotwell and a 10-0 tech over Andrea Karagiannis of Missouri Baptist.

She did not compete at the Trailblazer Duals on November 12, which included all four D1 women’s wrestling programs after finishing second at the Luther Hill Women's Open. 

“It felt great just to be back competing again — especially for Lindenwood,” Thorne said. “I love getting to compete with these girls on the team and it has been an amazing experience.”

Click here for full Jewell Duals results

Stars Showed Up At Doane

Several All-Americans participated in the Doane Open, including NAIA national finalists Mia Palumbo of William Penn and Mea Mohler of Texas Wesleyan. Both won titles, as did 2021 Cadet World teamer Cristelle Rodriguez. 

101: Mia Siqueiros (Iowa Western CC)
109: Mia Palumbo (William Penn)
116: Shammilka Miranda Diaz (Indian Hills)
123: Cristelle Rodriguez (Doane)
130: Kylie Rule (Wartburg)
136: Malia Kehne (Carl Albert)
143: Mea Mohler (Texas Wesleyan)
155: Kylie Hulse (Carl Albert)
170: Kami Senlycki (Wartburg)
191: Joanna Hendricks (Waldorf)

Click here for full Doane Results

Raiders On The Road
Southern Oregon — the reigning NAIA team champions — sent a handful of wrestlers the Choker Invite over the weekend. Only nine weight classes were contested and Simon Fraser won three titles.

109: Alexia Seal (Unattached)
116: Maddie Mackenzie (Simon Fraser)
123: Victoria Seal (Simon Fraser)
130: Ella Finding (Unattached)
136: Jade Trolland (Simon Fraser)
143: Sophie Keefer (Southern Oregon)
155: Flor Parker Borrero (Evergreen State)
170: Rupinder Johal (Unattached)
191: Renaeh Ureste (Grays Harbor)

Click here for full Choker Invite results

US Nationals Is Near

The US National Championships is on December 15-16 with the top five wrestlers at each weight qualifying for the Olympic Trials in April of 2024. Most colleges have this event on their schedules, so expect a big turnout in Dallas, Texas. 

Be sure to watch the entire event live on FloWrestling.