2021 Women's Captains' Cup

The Complete Captains' Cup Preview Extravaganza

The Complete Captains' Cup Preview Extravaganza

Your complete preview for the first women's wrestling event of its kind, the 2021 Captains' Cup.

Feb 11, 2021 by Derek Levendusky
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Your complete preview for the first women's wrestling event of its kind, the 2021 Captains' Cup.

Watch Captains' Cup LIVE on FloWrestling

Action starts Saturday | 3:00 PM EST

Teams

After each name, we’ve listed what number they were selected in the draft, and their current Senior level ranking.
 

Team Mensah-Stock 

50 kg: Amy Fearnside (12) #4

53 kg: Cheyenne Sisenstein #6 (replaces Areana Villaescusa who was drafted 13th)

57 kg: Abby Nette (25) #7

62 kg: Xochitl Mota-Pettis (24) #6

68 kg: Tamyra Mensah-Stock (captain) #1

76 kg: Dymond Guilford (1) #2

Coach: Afsoon Johnston


Team Hildebrandt 

50 kg: Sarah Hildebrandt (captain) #153 kg: Alex Hedrick #8 (replaces Tiare Ikei who was drafted 10th)

57 kg: Lauren Louive (22) #4

62 kg: Jennifer Page (3) #6

68 kg: Kayla Marano (27) #6

76 kg: Precious Bell (15) #4

Coach: Emma Randall


Team Burkert 

50 kg: Aleeah Gould #8 (replaces Whitney Conder who was drafted 6th)

53 kg: Katherine Shai (7) #4

57 kg: Brenda Reyna #13 (replaces captain Jenna Burkert)62 kg: Mallory Velte (18) #3

68 kg: Alyvia Fiske (19) #7

76 kg: Tristan Kelly (30) #10

Coach: Kristie Davis


Team Winchester 

50 kg: Alyssa Lampe (11) #5

53 kg: Jacarra Winchester (captain) #1

57 kg: Gracie Figueroa (23) #12

62 kg: Macey Kilty (2) #4

68 kg: Alex Glaude (14) #4

76 kg: Geneva Gray #21 (replaces Randi Beltz who was drafted 26th)

Coach: Sara McMann


Team Miracle 

50 kg: Erin Golston (9) #6

53 kg: Ronna Heaton (16) #5

57 kg: Koral Sugiyama (28) #11

62 kg: Julia Salata #7 (replaces Kayla Miracle)

68 kg: Ashlynn Ortega #3 (replaces Kennedy Blades who was drafted 4th)

76 kg: Hannah Gladden (21) #8

Captain: Kayla Miracle

Coach: Tricia Saunders


Team Francis 

50 kg: Emily Shilson (20) #6

53 kg: Felicity Taylor #9 (replaces Peyton Prussin who was drafted 29th)

57 kg: Lauren Mason #10 (replaces Desiree Zavala who was drafted 8th)

62 kg: Emma Bruntil (17) #5

68 kg: Skylar Grote (5) #5

76 kg: Victoria Francis (captain) #3

Coach: Ashley Sword

Talk about making lemonades from lemons! Emerging from the pandemic-restricted season for wrestling, Titan Mercury Club, FloWrestling, and USA Wrestling have put together what many consider one of the coolest events in the history of domestic women’s wrestling—the Captain’s Cup. Though there’s been a bit of a shake-up this week with some last minute roster changes, the event promises to be a landmark event for domestic women’s wrestling. The replacements are not out of their class in this field, with the addition of names like #3 Ashlynn Ortega and #7 Julia Salata on Team Miracle along with a handful of others filling in different rosters, and actually show the depth we have in U.S. women’s wrestling.

This duals event features teams put together by pre-selected “captains” through a draft that was live-streamed on FloWrestling a few weeks ago on January 23rd. Now the rosters are ready; the pools are set. It’s time to scrap! And don’t forget—there’s $50,000 on the line. The gold medal team will $3,000/wrestler; the silver medal squad will earn $2,000/wrestler; and the bronze team wins $1,000/wrestler. Each team captain also receives an additional $2,000. On top of that, the Outstanding Wrestler will receive a $2,000 bonus, an award that will be determined by whoever scores the most total points for their team. In the event of a tie, the OW award will be determined by vote from the tournament’s committee. Action begins Saturday, February 13th at 3 p.m. EST and will culminate with the finals on Sunday, February 14th at 8 p.m. EST.

"With the Olympic Trials just around the corner,” Titan Mercury WC founder Andy Barth previously told FloWrestling’s Kyle Bratke, “we want to provide opportunities for the USA's wrestlers to be as sharp and prepared as possible. Our efforts with USA Wrestling and FloWrestling to present the Captains’ Cup will give our wrestlers the benefit of solid competition, while giving wrestling fans an exciting showcase of women's wrestling."

Here’s a quick preview and a few of the storylines heading into the event.

Team Mensah-Stock the heavy favorite to win it

It helps that your starting point is, perhaps, the #1 pound for pound wrestler in the world. Team captain Tamrya Mensah-Stock, the 2019 world champion who notably had a recent win over 5-time world champ Adeline Gray, had the number 1 pick in the draft, and used it to grab 76 kg powerhouse Dymond Guilford. At the time of the draft, Guilford was ranked #3 behind #2 Victoria Francis—another captain—but only a few days later, on January 26th, Guilford defeated Francis 4-2 in a match on the Pitt Wrestling Club card. Without Adeline Gray competing, that means Team Mensah-Stock now has the top 68 kg in the field and the top 76 kg in the field. Add to that #4 Amy Fearnside at 50 kg, late addition #6 Cheyenne Sisenstein at 53 kg, #7 Abby Nette at 57 kg, and #6 XMP at 62 kg, and this formidable lineup looks tough to beat. As you’ll see from our metrics below, this team has the best “Power Ranking” score.

Team Burkert—now sans Burkert due to the WCAP women being under Covid restrictions—features two of their first four wrestlers in the top 4. Late additions Aleeah Gould and Brenda Reyna are #8 at 50 kg and #13 at 57 kg, respectively, but they also have #4 Katherine Shai at 53 kg and world bronze medalist Mallory Velte at 62 kg, who is currently ranked #3. Anchoring the team are #7 Alyvia Fiske, who won the U.S. Open in 2019 and was a Final X finalist, and youngster #10 Tristan Kelly, who pulled off an upset win over Dymond Guilford at Senior Nationals last October, a loss Guilford avenged, but Kelly definitely got everyone’s attention.

Team Winchester has 4 of 6 of their athletes ranked in the top 5. With Alyssa Lampe at #5 at 50 kg, Jacarra Winchester #1 at 53 kg, Macey Kilty #4 at 62 kg, and Alex Glaude at #4 at 68 kg, their lineup packs a punch. If 57 kg Gracie Figueroa and 76 kg Geneva Gray can pick up enough points, that will put them in the conversation at the end.

Some in wrestling media are also high on Team Hildebrandt, a squad that includes two 2020 Senior Nationals champions in 57 kg Lauren Louive and 62 kg Jennifer Page. But unfortunately for Team Hildebrandt, they’re in the same pool as Team Mensah-Stock and I don’t see them getting by the heavy-hitting squad.

Predictions

My prediction is that Team Mensah-Stock will be on top when it’s all over. Who they might face in the finals out of Pool A is still a bit of a mystery as last minute changes evened up the field. That said, I lean toward Team Winchester getting through to the final. The Pool A duals could be so close that it comes down to tiebreakers. So that places a huge emphasis on whether or not those who lose matches can pick up a classification point in their losses. In freestyle, a wrestler can still score a team point by scoring at least one point in the match as long as they don’t get pinned. For example, losing by decision 9-1 is scored 3-1 in the team race, losing 12-2 by tech fall is scored 4-1 in the team race, etc. These extra points could loom large in who gets out of Pool A.

My 1-2-3 prediction: Team Mensah-Stock gold, Team Winchester silver, Team Francis bronze.

Power Ranking Index

One metric that might be helpful, though not without caveats, is something I’m calling the “Power Ranking Index” (PRI). What is it? Add together the individual ranking of every team member, divide by 6 team members and...poof! Power Ranking Index. Here’s the PRI list, in order.

1. Team Mensah-Stock – 4.33

2. Team Hildebrandt – 4.83

3. Team Francis – 6.33

4. Team Miracle – 6.67

5. Team Burkert – 7.5

6. Team Winchester – 7.83
 

Lest we interpret this as the sure predictor of strength of teams, it should be added that some rosters have younger wrestlers whose ranking might not be as high, as the new faces are still making their mark.

Team Francis, for example, has a PRI of 6.33, but is also the only squad that is entirely college-eligible, minus Francis herself. It should also be noted that where wrestlers were not in our FloWrestling Top 10, I used their ranking in our watchlist, like Koral Sugiyama at #11 or Gracie Figueroa at #12. Team Winchester has the lowest PRI, but that can be attributed to Geneva Gray being at #21 in our watchlist, as she’s only wrestled once in the past few years and is a bit of an unknown against this field. The other five women in the lineup have a PRI of 5.4.

Compelling matchups

The 3-team pools are set, with the format designed to put the #1’s against each other for the title match, the #2’s for 3rd/4th place, and the #3’s for 5th/6th place. Pool A features Team Winchester
Team Burkert, and Team Miracle, while Pool B includes Team Hildebrandt, Team Mensah-Stock, and Team Francis.

Pool A

The fire will start right away with exciting and compelling matchups as Pool A kicks off the event with Team Burkert vs. Team Winchester. Here’s the early afternoon schedule.

Saturday, February 13th

3 p.m. EST – Team Burkert vs. Team Winchester
4 p.m. EST – Team Burkert vs. Team Miracle
5 p.m. EST – Team Winchester vs. Team Miracle

Watch for these individual matches in Pool A.

3 p.m. EST - Team Burkert vs. Team Winchester

53 kg: #4 Katherine Shai (Team Burkert) vs. #1 Jacarra Winchester (Team Winchester)
Of course 2019 world champion Winchester is the favorite, but Shai looked so good in winning the 2020 Senior Nationals in October, you’d think the wily veteran can make this one competitive. They met in 2020 at the wrestle-off for the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier and it was close, Winchester winning 5-0 and 2-0, though obviously Winchester stifled Shai’s offense.

62 kg: #3 Mallory Velte (Team Burkert) vs. #4 Macey Kilty (Team Winchester)
Doesn’t look like this match has happened before. If it has, it’s buried somewhere in an internet cave. Either way, super compelling.

68 kg: #7 Alyvia Fiske (Team Burkert) vs. #4 Alex Glaude (Team Winchester)
Fiske placed 3rd behind Glaude at the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships NCAA event last season, but defeated Glaude 8-4 in the SFU vs. McKendree finals at the NWCA National Duals early in 2020.

4 p.m. EST – Team Burkert vs. Team Miracle

53 kg: #4 Katherine Shai (Team Burkert) vs. #5 Ronna Heaton (Team Miracle)
These two had a close match at the 2019 Senior Nationals, a 5-2 win for Shai, but the veteran Shai dominated Heaton at 2020 Senior Nationals, overwhelming her younger opponent with a 10-0 tech fall. That being said, Heaton has been on fire, most recently getting a 12-1 win over Felicity Taylor on the Wisconsin RTC Card.

62 kg: #3 Mallory Velte (Team Burkert) vs. #7 Julia Salata (Team Miracle)
2018 World bronze medalist Mallory Velte vs. 2019 Pan Am Champion Julia Salata. The good matches just keep coming!

68 kg: #7 Alyvia Fiske (Team Burkert) vs. #3 Ashlynn Ortega (Team Miracle)
This could be the swing match in this dual. It doesn’t appear that Fiske and Ortega have ever met, but this one has the makings of being a great match. Both have had big wins at the Senior level and both have been national contenders at different weights in college for the last few years.

76 kg: #8 Hannah Gladden vs. #10 Tristan Kelly
Another battle of experience vs. youth as 2019 Senior national teamer Gladden faces the 2020 Junior national champ.

5 p.m. EST – Team Winchester vs. Team Miracle

50 kg: #5 Alyssa Lampe (Team Winchester) vs. #6 Erin Golston (Team Miracle)
Another compelling matchup in weight class that has a lot of parity. When they met in 2014 & 2015, Lampe owned both those matches, scoring tech falls in each. But with Golston’s development since then, this one should be interesting to watch.

57 kg: #12 Gracie Figueroa (Team Winchester) vs. #11 Koral Sugiyama (Team Miracle)
Leg shooter vs. the high-flying Sugiyama. The last time they met at U23s in November, Sugiyama hit three 4-pointers en route to a 16-6 tech fall-pin. Figueroa was able to get to legs but couldn’t defend against the upper body attacks of Sugiyama. The rematch should be a fun one to watch. If Figueroa can stay away from the big moves, the advantage swings her way.

68 kg: #4 Alex Glaude (Team Winchester) vs. #3 Ashlynn Ortega (Team Miracle)
Another rivalry with history. After falling to Glaude 4-2 at the 2019 Bill Farrell, Ortega edged Glaude 2-1 at Senior Nationals 2019, where the King wrestler took 3rd. Both Ortega and Glaude are qualified for the Olympic Team Trials. Glaude was a 2-time college national champion for McKendree.

Pool B

Later in the evening on Day 1, Pool B will hit the mat.

Saturday, February 13th

7 p.m. EST – Team Hildebrandt vs. Team Mensah-Stock
8 p.m. EST – Team Hildebrandt vs. Team Francis
9 p.m. EST – Team Mensah-Stock vs. Team Francis

Watch for these team and individual matchups in Pool B, with a special shout out to 76 kg this round, a weight that features the #2, #3, and #4 all in this group!

7 p.m. EST - Team Hildebrandt vs. Team Mensah-Stock

53 kg: #8 Alex Hedrick (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #6 Cheyenne Sisenstein (Team Mensah-Stock)
This one has a dramatic recent history. After Sisenstein took out Hedrick 5-1 at the NWCA National Duals last year, Hedrick avenged the loss at the biggest moment—the finals of the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships with a fall over Sisenstein. Hedrick broke through onto the scene in 2018 when she won the U.S. Open and the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. She hasn’t wrestled in almost a year, and Sisenstein has been very active through the King University program. Will Hedrick be ready out of the gate for Sisenstein’s brutal pace and hard-nosed style? Eyes on the screen for this one!

57 kg: #7 Abby Nette (Team Mensah-Stock) vs. #4 Lauren Louive (Team Hildebrandt)
Expect Nette to be in this match from start to finish. Her takedown-to-turn offense should stand up to Louive’s heavy hands & heavy pressure and make this another fun one to watch. When they met at World Team Trials in 2019, Louive edged out Nette 8-6.

62 kg: #6 Jennifer Page (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #6 XMP (Team Mensah-Stock).
Xochitl “XMP” Mota-Pettis is ranked at 57 kg but is up at 62 kg for this event. She’ll face 2020 Senior Nationals champion Jennifer Page. What more to say? Don’t miss the always-exciting XMP against a veteran like Page, who still seems at the top of her game.

76 kg: #4 Precious Bell (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #2 Dymond Guilford (Team Mensah-Stock)
Not new. This rivalry has been playing out over the last few years, when Bell beat Guilford in the finals of the 2019 Senior Nationals 7-0, but then lost to Guilford by fall twice in 2020, first at Senior Nationals, and then in the finals of U23s. Can Bell keep pace with Guilford, who seems to have leveled up since the end of her college career?

8 p.m. EST - Team Hildebrandt vs. Team Francis

57 kg: #4 Lauren Louive (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #10 Lauren Mason (Team Francis)
It was a 2-2 criteria win for Mason when these two met in the bronze match of the 2019 U.S. Open. Throw out the rankings for this one. This match could determine the outcome of this dual.

62 kg: #6 Jennifer Page (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #5 Emma Bruntil (Team Francis)
Another swing match. When they hit in December at the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, it was a 2-1 chess match with Bruntil getting the win. Expect more of the same in a match that will have a lot riding on it.

68 kg: #6 Kayla Marano (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #5 Skylar Grote (Team Francis)
Both have been wrestling at a high level lately. Both won U23 national titles in November. They’ve split their series 2-2 in the last few years, with Grote winning their last match at 2019 Senior Nationals 10-1, the most lopsided match of their history against each other. Expect some sparks as Marano always seems to wrestle with tenacity, and how much more against a rival like Grote?

76 kg: #4 Precious Bell (Team Hildebrandt) vs. #3 Victoria Francis (Team Francis)
It was 11-8 Francis at Senior Nationals last October. What will it be this time? Bell wants this rematch.

9 p.m. EST - Team Mensah-Stock vs. Team Francis

50 kg: #4 Amy Fearnside (Team Mensah-Stock) vs. #6 Emily Shilson (Team Francis)
This one was awful close the last time they hit at Senior Nationals 2019, with Fearnside getting the better of the youngster 6-4, but Shilson’s development is obvious. If she can beat Fearnside, it would be one of her biggest wins to date on the Senior level.

53 kg: #6 Cheyenne Sisenstein (Team Mensah-Stock) vs. #9 Felicity Taylor (Team Francis)
This one happened at U23 Nationals last November, with Sisenstein getting the upper hand in an 8-1 win. This will be a fun rematch of two of well-known names in women’s college wrestling.

62 kg: #6 Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Team Mensah-Stock) vs. #5 Emma Bruntil (Team Francis)
XMP vs. Bruntil? Yes, please. Exciting matchup between two bright young stars in women’s wrestling.

76 kg: #2 Dymond Guilford (Team Mensah-Stock) vs. #3 Victoria Francis (Team Francis)
The reason Guilford is #2 and Francis is #3 is because this match just happened a few weeks ago, with Guilford breaking through with a 4-2 win. That flipped their ranking. A great sequel coming up at the Captain’s Cup! Can Francis reclaim the #2 spot? Stay tuned.

Placement matchups 

Schedule for placement matches: Sunday, February 14th

5 p.m. EST (5th/6th) – Pool A #3 vs. Pool B #3
6 p.m. EST (3rd/4th) – Pool A #2 vs. Pool B #2
7 p.m. EST (gold/silver) – Pool A #1 vs. Pool B #1

The crossover will determine the matchups on Day 2, but here’s some potential bouts that everyone would probably like to see, depending on the results of Day 1.

50 kg: #4 Amy Fearnside (Team Mensah Stock) vs. #5 Alyssa Lampe (Team Winchester)
This would be the “rubber match” of their recent series, Lampe getting the tech fall over Fearnside at the 2019 Senior Nationals, but then Fearnside getting the 6-5 nail-biting win in the semis at Senior Nationals 2020.

62 kg: #5 Emma Bruntil (Team Francis) vs. #3 Mallory Velte (Team Burkert) or #4 Macey Kilty (Team Winchester)
In the last 18 months, Bruntil has split matches with both of these opponents, and it was close every time. If either of these matches happens, take your snack or bathroom break later.

62 kg: #4 Alex Glaude (Team Winchester) vs. #5 Skylar Grote (Team Francis)
I think the women’s wrestling community wants to see this one again. Last time they met, it was Glaude over Grote 2-1. Glaude also beat her at the 2019 SFU Open in Canada, 6-2. Even with that, Grote has had a great year and was a first-round pick over Glaude, who was drafted 14th—the third round. Twitter chatter has some picking Grote to win the rematch if and when it happens. Who’s better in 2021? Maybe we’ll see this one.

So get ready to watch some great women’s wrestling with rising stars and experienced veterans as they clash at the Captain’s Cup this weekend!

Derek Levendusky is a freelance writer for American Women’s Wrestling and FloWrestling. You can find him on Twitter: @awwnewsfeed and @AWWderek