2021 NAIA Women's Wrestling Tournament

NAIA Women's National Invitational Recap

NAIA Women's National Invitational Recap

Recapping all the action from the 2021 NAIA Women's National Invitational wrestling tournament from Jamestown, North Dakota.

Mar 17, 2021 by Derek Levendusky
NAIA Women's National Invitational Recap
#1 ranked Campbellsville came into this year’s NAIA Women’s National Invitational in Jamestown, North Dakota, as the favorite last weekend, but what was expected to be a close team race turned into a runaway victory for the Kentucky squad, outscoring 2nd place Life University 185-134.5. In all, Campbellsville had 5 in the finals and a whopping 8 in the top three.

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#1 ranked Campbellsville came into this year’s NAIA Women’s National Invitational in Jamestown, North Dakota, as the favorite last weekend, but what was expected to be a close team race turned into a runaway victory for the Kentucky squad, outscoring 2nd place Life University 185-134.5. In all, Campbellsville had 5 in the finals and a whopping 8 in the top three.

All results and matches from the 2021 NAIA Women’s National Invitational can be found inside FloArena.

“The team peaked at the right time,” said head Coach Lee Miracle, who was awarded the NAIA Coach of the Year for the second time. “Everyone was flowing and wrestling well. Spirits were high and you could feel the love amongst the team. Fundamentals were being adhered to. We were staying in good position. After the first session, I thought to myself, if they wrestle like this the rest of the way, it won’t be close. And that’s what they ended up doing. It was awesome to watch and be a part of.”

Campbell’s match was one for the history books

The team title was punctuated by senior McKayla Campbell who won the 109-pound class final with last second dramatics, throwing Wayland Baptist’s Asia Ray for 4 points in the final seconds to gain the 16-14 victory in a wild match. It was Campbell’s first title in four trips to the national finals.

“Campbell’s match was one for the history books,” reflects Miracle. “I’ve coached a lot of matches in my life and hope to coach many more. I will always remember this match. It is one of the greatest examples of wanting something, fighting tooth and nail for it, and then taking it because you believed it was rightfully yours. It was awesome!”

Campbellsville senior Charlotte Fowler, who recently took a coaching job at the University of the Ozarks that she’ll begin after this semester, was one of the Cinderella stories of the event, handing #2 seed Camille Fournier of Texas Wesleyan her first loss of the season with a 10-0 tech fall in the semis of the 116-pound weight class. Fowler then got by another tough freshman, #3 seed Stefana Jelacic of Lourdes 7-5, falling in the finals to sophomore sensation Peyton Prussin of Life.

Even with the dominant team win by Campbellsville, the program only walked away with one champ. In fact, the national champions were spread out among eight programs, showing parity in the NAIA at the top. Life University had two champs in Prussin and Nelson, while Wayland Baptist had two in Pham and Zavala.

The other Cinderella of the event was Southern Oregon’s Sienna Ramirez, also a senior, who came from the #8 seed to win the national title. After taking out #1 seed Cierra Foster (Oklahoma City) in the quarters and #5 seed Kendra Thompson (Campbellsville) in the semis, Ramirez defeated #2 seed Morgan Mayginnes (Baker) in the finals 10-0.

Wayland Baptist’s Desiree Zavala was awarded the tournament OW, while her teammate Nina Pham was awarded the season OW. Pham gave up one takedown this year in an undefeated season and hasn’t lost in college since the NAIA national finals in 2019 to teammate Asia Ray.

Worthy of note is that all 10 NAIA national champions this year were first-time college champs. Six of them were seniors. Midland’s Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp was the only freshman champion. All national champs: 101 Nina Pham (senior, Wayland Baptist); 109 McKayla Campbell (senior, Campbellsville); 116 Peyton Prussin (sophomore, Life University); 123 Jasmine Hernandez (junior, Lyon); 130 Bridgette Duty (senior, Cumberlands)—the first NAIA national champ for that program, 136 Desiree Zavala (senior, Wayland Baptist), 143 Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp (freshman, Midland freshman), 155 Sienna Ramirez (senior, Southern Oregon); 170 Jordan Nelson (senior, Life University); and 191 Nkechinyere “Chi Chi” Nwanwko (junior, Oklahoma City).

Due to the pandemic, all seniors will receive an extra year of eligibility.

Here’s the top 8 in the team race, the “All-American” programs:

1. Campbellsville 185

2. Life 134.5

3. Wayland Baptist 100

4. Oklahoma City 96.5

5. Southern Oregon 94.5

6. Cumberlands 89

7. Jamestown 77

8. Grand View 76.5

Weight-by weight recap

101 Pounds

In one of the most dominant performances of the tournament, Wayland Baptist’s Nina Pham outscored her opponents 50-2, scoring a fall in the finals over Providence #3 seed Ivy Navarro. Navarro’s sister Ira Navarro, unseeded at the weight, took 5th place, giving both sisters All-American honors. 2020 WCWA national champion Esthella Trevino of Southern Oregon took 3rd.


1. Nina Pham (Wayland Baptist)

2. Ivy Navarro (Providence)

3. Esthella Trevino (Southern Oregon)

4. Madison Brown (Texas Wesleyan)

5. Ira Navarro (Providence)

6. Devyn Gomez (Life)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Alaura Couch (Grand View)

8. Angelina Casteneda (Cumberlands)

109 Pounds

Though Jamestown freshman Rayana Sahagun was seeded #2, in the end it was the upperclassmen, seniors Mckayla Campbell and Wayland Baptist’s Asia Ray in the finals. A battle of 3-time finalist Campbell and 2-time national champion Ray gave us what was probably the match of the tournament, a back-and-forth scoring affair with Campbell’s storybook finish. Sahagun fell to 7th place, though still a solid tournament and season for the Jamestown freshman. Unseeded Southern Oregon junior Macie Stewart claimed 3rd, upsetting the #2, #4, and #7 seeds along the way, her only loss at the event being to runner-up Asia Ray.


1. McKayla Campbell (Campbellsville)

2. Asia Ray (Wayland Baptist)

3. Macie Stewart (Southern Oregon)

4. Tehani Soares (Indiana Tech)

5. Emma Cochran (Grand View)

6. Katalina Bartelt (Life)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Rayana Sahagun (Jamestown)

8. Kory Phillips (Life)

116 Pounds

Life sophomore star Peyton Prussin did what she’s been doing all year…dominate. 30 seconds into her first-round match with Katherine Heath (Baker), she hit a 5-point throw that set the tone for the rest of her journey in Jamestown. Her story was tech, pin, tech, tech at the national tournament. Her closest match during the regular season was a 12-5 win over Presbyterian’s Jaslynn Gallegos. As previously mentioned, Campbellsville senior Charlotte Fowler put together one of the best tournaments of her college career to make the finals. In a battle of freshmen talent in the consolation finals, Stefana Jelacic (Lourdes) took 3rd in an entertaining 10-8 match over Texas Wesleyan’s Camille Fournier.   


1. Peyton Prussin (Life)

2. Charlotte Fowler (Campbellsville)

3. Stefana Jelacic (Lourdes)

4. Camille Fournier (Texas Wesleyan)

5. Arianna Marrufo (Jamestown)

6. Josie Bartishofski (Jamestown)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Serenity Durham Goree (Midland)

8. Carolina Johnson (Southern Oregon)

123 Pounds

This weight went chalk as the #1 seed Julia Vidallon (Life) and the #2 seed Jasmine Hernandez (Lyon) reached the finals, but Hernandez flipped the script, coming from behind to get the fall and win her first national title at the 4:35 mark. Hernandez scored with doubles, counters, and then an arm bar to secure the pin. Campbellsville teammates Katlyn Pizzo and Jacqueline Ghent met in the consolation finals for 3rd, with Pizzo getting the fall at 49 seconds. Unseeded Theresa Rankin of Lourdes, a transfer from the McKendree program, took 5th.


1. Jasmine Hernandez (Lyon)

2. Julia Vidallon (Life)

3. Katlyn Pizzo (Campbellsville)

4. Jacqueline Ghent (Campbellsville)

5. Theresa Rankin (Lourdes)

6. Nichole Moore (Baker)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Glory Konecny (Southern Oregon)

8. Jasmin Davis (Wayland Baptist)

130 Pounds

The Mid-South Conference Wrestler of the Year Bridgette Duty (Cumberlands) was a powerhouse at this weight all season, blowing through opponents with strength and quickness. It was no different for the senior in Jamestown last weekend. The finals were close near the end of the 1st period, with Duty leading 4-2, when the Cumberlands senior hit a 4-pointer to make it 8-2 at the break. After countering a headlock attempt from Angela Vitiritti (Campbellsville), Duty finished the match with a leg lace to win the title. In the 3rd place match, yet another freshman had a high finish as Texas Wesleyan’s Mea Mohler got the fall over De’anna Prince, from rival Texas program Wayland Baptist.


1. Bridgette Duty (Cumberlands)

2. Angela Vitiritti (Campbellsville)

3. Mea Mohler (Texas Weslyan)

4. De'anna Prince (Wayland Baptist)

5. Alexandra Baudhuin (Jamestown)

6. Diana Dzasezeva (Waldorf)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Briana Kellin (Life)

8. Sophia Smith (Oklahoma City)

136 Pounds

Already well-known at the Senior level, it’s hard to believe Wayland Baptist’s Desiree Zavala hadn’t won a national title yet. She may have last year if the national tournament wasn’t cancelled by Covid, but that’s no longer a concern for Zavala, who won her first national title at this year’s event. The senior from Texas put together convincing win after convincing win, seemingly unchallenged by the competition in her weight class this year at nationals. She outscored her opponents 40-0 on the day, getting the 10-0 tech fall in the finals over Campbellsville’s Randi Robison in 51 seconds. #3 seed Andrea Schlabach (Grand View) performed to her seed, while unseeded freshman Savanna McCutchen of Missouri Valley became an All-American at 4th place. Destiny Lyng (Oklahoma City) had a strong return to the college scene with a 5th place finish after being off the mat for a while.  


1. Desiree Zavala (Wayland Baptist)

2. Randi Robison (Campbellsville)

3. Andrea Schlabach (Grand View)

4. Savanna McCutchen (Missouri Valley)

5. Destiny Lyng (Oklahoma City)

6. Brigid Shannon (Corban)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Angelina Prado (Life University)

8. Luisita Jara (Jamestown)

143 Pounds

Midland’s Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp was the only freshman to win a national title this year. She defeated #6 seed Erin Redford (Eastern Oregon) in the tightest margin of victory of all finals, 4-3. Redford, a junior, made her first final with an upset victory over #3 seed Emma Walker from Campbellsville in the quarters, then getting a razor thin 2-2 criteria win in the semis over #2 seed Sydney Freund of Oklahoma City. Freshman Estrella-Beauchamp donned her Hawaiian state flag after her victory, getting her hand raised with it draped over her back. 


1. Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp (Midland)

2. Erin Redford (Eastern Oregon)

3. Emma Walker (Campbellsville)

4. Samantha Snow (Indiana Tech)

5. Jordan Suarez (Wayland Baptist)

6. Sydney Freund (Oklahoma City)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Ashley Ikner (Cumberlands)

8. Nancy Becerra (Missouri Valley)

155 Pounds

Southern Oregon’s #8 seeded Sienna Ramirez became the biggest underdog story of the tournament when she upset the #1 seed Cierra Foster (Oklahoma City) in the quarters. A wild exchange at the end of the match, Ramirez holding a 2-1 lead, resulted in the senior getting the fall over Foster right at the buzzer—time of fall 6:00. Ramirez went on to defeat #5 seed Kendra Thompson in the quarters 8-6 before a earning a convincing 10-0 victory in the finals over #2 seed Mayginnes. Thompson went on to take 3rd with a fall over Midland’s Kamalamaokapomahealani Lewis in the consolation finals.


1. Sienna Ramirez (Southern Oregon)

2. Morgan Mayginnes (Baker)

3. Kendra Thompson (Campbellsville)

4. Kamalamaokapomahealani Lewis (Midland)

5. Cierra Foster (Oklahoma City)

6. Destinee Rivera (Life)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Tiyahna Askew (MBU)

8. Dempsi Talkington (EOU)

170 Pounds

Senior Jordan Nelson emerged as the national champion in a weight class that featured close battles between the top women all season. The top 8 seeds in this group were one of only three weight classes that went chalk to the quarters. Nelson peaked at just the right time of year, getting convincing wins over #7 seed Jennifer Curry (Baker) in the quarters, #3 seed Hunter Robinson (Grand View) in the semis, and then beating #1 seed Alexandra Castillo (Campbellsville) in the finals. Ahead 1-1 in criteria against Castillo, she closed out the match with two takedowns in the final minute for the title. #5 seed Sierra Talmadge outperformed her seed to take 3rd against Robinson in the consolation finals.


1. Jordan Nelson (Life)

2. Alexandra Castillo (Campbellsville)

3. Sierra Talmadge (Jamestown)

4. Hunter Robinson (Grand View)

5. Chamira Cooper (Cumberlands)

6. Jennifer Curry (Baker)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Shania Gowan (Missouri Baptist)

8. Danielle Saldivar (Missouri Valley)

191 Pounds

Chi Chi Nwankwo proved that the seeding committee got it right by naming her the #1 seed at 191, getting a fall in the finals over Elisa Robinson (Baker). Nwankwo’s closest match was in the semis against Lyon’s Kelani Corbett, a 6-1 victory against the one-time Fargo champion. Campbellsville’s Brianna Staebler, an athlete that started this season as a high school student, but graduated early, transitioning to the Campbellsville roster for the spring semester, took 4th in this tough group, earning All-American honors.


1. Nkechinyere Nwankwo (Oklahoma City)

2. Elisa Robinson (Baker)

3. Kelani Corbett (Lyon)

4. Brianna Staebler (Campbellsville)

5. MaQuoia Bernabe (Cumberlands)

6. Victoria Hinojo (Oklahoma City)

Honorable Mention All-Americans

7. Catherine Palmieri (Life)

8. Kelly LaCost (Jamestown)

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