Connect with us

High School

Nine state wrestlers earn medals at USA Wrestling’s Women’s Nationals

Left photo: Coach Blair Tugman and Southington’s Ashley Reed (right) at the UWW Junior Freestyle nationals in Texas this weekend. Right photo: Bristol’s Ella Nichols and coach Dave Thompson at the UWW Cadet Nationals in Texas.

Nine Connecticut women earned medals at USA Wrestling’s 2021 Women’s Nationals in Irving, Texas this weekend. Berths for the American World Championship teams in the Junior, Cadet and U-23 levels were on the line for winners in the respective tournaments.

Bristol’s Ella Nichols finished fifth at 73 kilograms (160 pounds) in the United World Wrestling (UWW) Cadet tournament while Southington’s Ashley Reed finished eighth at 72 kg (158 pounds) in the UWW Junior Women tournament.

Freestyle competition was also held in five other tournaments at the Women’s Nationals. In the 15-and-under girls tournament, Stratford’s Kayla Batres was second at 39 kg, Southbury’s Sarah Henckel was fourth at 62 kg and Norwalk’s Cali Gilchrist was seventh at 54 kg.

In the 14-and-under girls tournament, Henckel won a national title at 136 pounds while Batres was third at 85 pounds and Norwalk’s Rylee Donahue (136) finished sixth.

In the 12 and under tournament, Bristol’s Ava Guilmette won a national title in the 95-pound weight class while in the 10-and-under tournament, Stratford’s Karina Batres finished second at 50 kilograms (110 pounds). Selena Batres finished sixth at 65 kg (143 pounds). More than 1,000 wrestlers competed in the three-day event.

Nichols went 2-2 in the tournament to finish fifth at 73 kg in the UWW Cadet freestyle tournament. She beat Utah’s Anya Hatch in the quarterfinals, 10-8 before getting pinned late in the second period of her semifinal loss to Rose Cassioppi of Illinois. Trailing 1-0 late in the match, Nichols tried to roll through her back but got pinned.

Nichols beat Pennsylvania’s Abbies Miles by tech fall (10-0) in 1:32 to finish fifth.

Three other Connecticut wrestlers won matches in the Cadet tournament. Norwalk’s Calli Gilchrist (53 kg, 116 pounds) was 2-2, Woodbridge’s Camryn Brown (57 kg, 125 pounds) was 2-2 while Julianna Morris of Southbury (57 kg) went 3-2 with one pin and two decisions on criteria.

Reed dropped her opening match of the tournament in the UWW Junior freestyle event but used a pair of consolation round wins to earn a championship medal. After dropping her opening round bout to Kansas’ Morgan Mayginnes, 14-9, Reed pinned Oregon’s Tiyanna Leal in 3:47 before beating Pennsylvania’s Tiffani Baublitz, 10-4.

Reed lost to Utah’s Marlynne Deede in the consolation semifinals, 10-0 before falling to Mayginnes in the seventh place bout, 13-0.

In Sunday’s 15-and-under freestyle tournament (15U), Kayla Batres had three pins (21 seconds, 2:06, 3:02) to earn a spot in the best-of-3 finals against Florida’s Emma Bacon with the winner taking a national title and a spot in the U.S. U15 team for the upcoming Pan American Games.

Bacon won the first match by technical fall in 2:39 by a 13-2 score but it was much more competitive in the second match. Batres had a 5-4 lead late in the second period but Bacon scored three points, including a takedown with 22 seconds remaining, to win the second match and win the title.

Henckel advanced to the 15U semifinals at 62 kg before losing to Nebraska’s Kristen Schellenberg. Henckel went 3-2 in the tournament. Gilchrist went 4-2 at 54 kg with two wins by technical fall to finish seventh in the 15U tournament. She beat Alexis Segurra of Colorado, 14-6 in the seventh place bout.

In the 14-and-under freestyle tournament (14U) on Saturday, Henckel won three bouts to win the national tournament at 136 pounds. She pinned Colorado’s Ryen Hickey in the quarterfinals in 1:32 and blanked Oklahoma’s Ryleigh Lefkowitz in the semifinals, 6-0.

In the championship match against Arizona’s Morgan Lucio, it was tied 4-4 after the first period. Henckel took a 6-4 lead with a takedown with 1:40 remaining but Lucio forced Henckel to twice step out of the ring in final 1:10 to tie the match at 6-6. In freestyle, wrestlers are penalized a point for stepping out of the ring.

But Henckel won on criteria – a 3-2 edges in takedowns – to win the national title.

Kayla Batres went 3-1 at 85 pounds to finish third. She was pinned by eventual tournament champion Emma Bacon of Florida in the semifinals before winning two consecutive consolation round bouts to take third. Kayla Batres pinned California’s Jillian Wells in 1:48 and pinned Arizona’s Khyla Lipumaro in 53 seconds to finish third.

Donahue went 1-3 in the tournament and finished sixth after a 5-4 loss to Oklahoma’s Ryleigh Lefkowitz at 136 pounds.

Guilmette went 3-0 with three pins at 95 pounds to win a national tournament title in 12-and-under. She pinned Missouri’s Paloma Juarez in the quarterfinals in 2:20, pinned Michigan’s Cadence Butts in the semifinals in 2:46 and pinned Oklahoma’s Kasia Wong in the championship match in 1:44.

In the 10U tournament, Karina Batres was one of two girls at 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and dropped a pair of bouts to Colorado’s Sophia Valdez, 16-9 and 18-13 in a best-of-three final.

2021 USA Wrestling Women’s Nationals
At Irving, Texas

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

More in High School