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Reed finishes second in Junior Nationals; takes Tricia Saunders Award

Southington’s Ashley Reed, left, and Bristol’s Ella Nichols earned All-American honors at the Junior Nationals Wednesday in Fargo, North Dakota. (Photos courtesy Sarah Jadach)

Southington’s Ashley Reed picked up two awards Wednesday at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

Reed earned All-American honors with her second place finish at 164 pounds in freestyle and was named as the 2021 Tricia Saunders Award winner in Connecticut by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Reed’s Team Connecticut teammate Ella Nichols of Bristol also earned All-American honors by finishing fourth at 152 pounds. Reed and Nichols are the sixth and seventh, respectively, Connecticut wrestlers to earn All-American honors this week at the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U national championship tournament at the FargoDome.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic there was no high school season in Connecticut but Reed has found a way to train and compete this spring and win the Tricia Saunders Award.

Reed, who graduated from Southington in June, finished second in the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Senior Nationals in April at 160 pounds. Later in the spring, she finished eighth at the United World Wrestling’s Junior Nationals at 72 kg (158 pounds). She finished the season ranked No. 8 in the country at 164 pounds.

The Tricia Saunders Award recognizes senior athletes for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship and community service. Saunders was a four-time world champion and women’s wrestling pioneer, who was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006 and the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011.

Reed had three pins in her first four matches to earn a spot in the finals at the Junior Nationals. Her closest match came in the quarterfinals with a 7-4 win over Washington State’s Alex Brulotte. Reed had a takedown with 1:08 remaining to turn a one-point lead into a three-point advantage.

In the final, Reed faced against Kylie Welker, a high school junior from Wisconsin who finished second in the recent U.S. Olympic Trials at 76 kg (167 pounds) to Adeline Gray, a five-time world champion.

It was a bit of a surprise to see Welker in the tournament but she has always wanted to compete here in Fargo. “I just wanted to try it out,” she said. ”It was a lot of fun.”

Welker went 5-0 in the tournament with one pin. Reed’s match, a 10-0 technical fall in 1:24, was her longest match of the tournament.

Nichols won her first three matches to earn a spot in the semifinals before she fell to Texas’ Jasmine Robinson by technical fall in the semifinals, 12-0. Nichols got her second pin of the tournament in a consolation round victory over New York’s Emily Brown in 51 seconds before dropping the consolation final to Michigan’s Amarisa Manuel.

Nichols went 4-2 in the tournament. She pinned California’s Abby Siecienski in her first match in 1:47 before beating Minnesota’s Alicia Pepper, 9-2.

Middlebury’s Julianna Morris (127) went 4-2 in the tournament with four wins by technical fall. She fell two wins shy of All-American honors. Norwalk’s Camryn Brown (127) went 3-2 in the tournament with two pins.

Jacklyn Smith of Trumbull went 3-2 at 164 pounds in freestyle at the Junior Nationals with one pin. Smith lost to Welker in the second round losing by technical fall, giving up 10 points in 37 seconds. Welker won her first match by technical fall in 32 seconds.

Connecticut All-Americans at 2001 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U Nationals

Ashley Reed (164), Southington Junior women’s freestyle 2nd
Ella Nichols (152), Bristol Junior women’s freestyle 4th
Nico Provo (126), Stratford Junior freestyle 7th
William Henckel (145), Southbury 16U freestyle 1st
Nathan Taylor (170), Newtown 16U freestyle 7th
Julianna Morris (122), Middlebury 16U women’s freestyle 2nd
Calli Gilchrist (112), Norwalk 16U women’s freestyle 3rd
Camryn Brown (122), Amity 16U women’s freestyle 7th

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

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