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Two Connecticut wrestlers earn All-American honors at 16U nationals

Bristol’s Ella Nichols, left, and Plainville’s Dakota Marie Dinelli earned All-American honors at the USA Wrestling U16 Nationals Sunday in Fargo, North Dakota. (Photos courtesy Sarah Jadach, USA Wrestling Connecticut)

FARGO, North Dakota, July 14 – Two Connecticut girls earned All-American honors Sunday at the U.S. Marines/USA Wrestling 16U national championships at the Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State.

Plainville’s Dakota Marie Dinelli finished second at 152 pounds while Bristol’s Ella Nichols took third place at 144 pounds. The 16U nationals for wrestlers ages 15-16 were formerly called the Cadet Nationals.

Dinelli went 4-1 in the tournament, dropping an 8-7 decision to California’s Hannah Ricioli in the championship bout. She had a pin, won a match by technical fall and won by injury default. Dinelli was leading 7-0 in the semifinals when Mississippi’s Abigail Boiling had to default.

Dinelli, who won the state girls title at 152 pounds in the spring, will be a sophomore at Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania beginning in September. Dinelli, 14, was fourth at the 2019 U15 nationals but was a champion at the All-Japan Female Open.

Nichols, who wrestled as a freshman at Bristol Eastern last winter, went 5-1 in the tournament with four pins. She lost to eventual national champion Destiny Rodriguez of Oregon in the semifinals by technical fall, 13-1. Rodriguez, 14, won the 15U world title earlier this year and will be a freshman this fall at West Linn High.

Nichols won her first three matches by pin in 32 seconds, 2:48 and 3:29 before running into Rodriguez. Nichols won her first consolation match by pin (1:22) before beating Sydney Manos of Illinois, 8-0 to finish third.

It is the first All-American medals for Nichols and Dinelli at the USA Wrestling national championship tournament.

Manchester’s Destiny Mateo also represented Team Connecticut in the 16U tournament at 122 pounds. Mateo went 2-2 with one pin.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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