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Three Connecticut girls earn All-American honors in 16U freestyle

Three Connecticut girls earned All-American honors in 16U freestyle at the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U nationals Sunday. From left, Norwalk’s Calli Gilchrist (112), Middlebury’s Juliana Morris (122) and Amity’s Camryn Brown (122). (Photo courtesy Sarah Jadach)

Three Connecticut girls earned All-American honors Sunday at USA Wrestling’s Junior and 16U national championship meet at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota.

Middlebury’s Juliana Morris finished second at 122 pounds in 16U women’s freestyle while Norwalk’s Calli Gilchrist was third at 112 pounds. Amity’s Camryn Brown finished seventh at 122 pounds. It was the day one of six consecutive days of championship finals in Fargo.

Morris, who will be a junior at Pomperaug this fall, won her first four matches to earn a spot in the championship final. She had a takedown in the last six seconds to secure her quarterfinal victory over Minnesota’s Aireanna Gavere, 5-2. Morris had four takedowns in her 8-6 semifinal win over California’s Gianna DiBenedetto.

In the finals, Morris faced Shelby Moore of Buckley, Washington, who is ranked No. 2 in the country at 122 and won a pair of USA Wrestling national titles in folkstyle at the Girls Junior Nationals and the 16U nationals. Moore beat Morris by technical fall, 10-0, in 3:33 to win the title.

Morris, 16, came into the match ranked No. 11 in the nation at 127 pounds in the latest high school rankings from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling.

Gilchrist won her first two matches of the tournament before dropping a 12-1 decision in 1:28 in the semifinals to South Carolina’s Zao Estrada, who is ranked No. 2 in the country.

Gilchrist rallied with an 11-8 win over Nevada’s Emma Albanese in the consolation semifinals and dominated Ohio’s Raegan Briggs in the consolation final, 12-2 in 3:21, to finish third.

At 122 pounds, Brown won her first two matches by technical fall before dropping an 11-0 decision in the quarterfinals. Brown went 3-1 in the consolation round to finish seventh and earn All-American honors with a 2:58 pin over Missouri’s Payton Weese.

Brown was 5-2 in the tournament with two pins.

The 16U (16-and-under) tournaments was formerly known as the Cadet Division. This is the tenth year of competition at the 16U level. It first began in 2011.

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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