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No. 10 Sacred Heart wins regional title, sending nine wrestlers to nationals

The Sacred Heart women’s wrestling won their first regional championship Saturday and are sending nine wrestlers to the NCWWC national championships in Iowa. (Photo courtesy Sacred Heart athletics)

Victories by Aaliyah Payne-Parris, Madison Sandquist and Jacklyn Smith in the championship finals helped the No. 10 Sacred Heart women’s wrestling team win the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championship (NCWWC) Region 1 championship by just 3½ points Saturday at Gannon University in Erie, Pa.

Payne-Parris (101) and Sandquist (155) won regional titles by pin and Smith (191) earned a 6-1 decision in the final match of the tournament to lift the Pioneers to the regional championship over host Gannon, 176-172½.

It’s the first regional championship for the young second-year program.

The tournament, one of five regional events around the country, was a qualifying meet for the NCWWC national championships on March 3-4 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualified for the national championship meet.

Sacred Heart will send nine wrestlers to the national championship. All-American’s Madison Sandquist (155), Temi Sanusi (143) and Smith (191) are going to the nationals for the second consecutive year. They will be joined by Payne-Parris (101), Taylor McCormick (109), Nohea Moniz (116), Alexandra Fitzgerald (130), Julia Mullane (136) and Cara Broadus (170).

Three of the nine grew up in Connecticut. Broadus grew up in Plymouth, McCormick graduated from Somers and Smith grew up in Bridgeport and graduated from Trumbull High.

Sacred Heart had a dominating tournament with three individual champions and seven finalists.

Payne-Parris was the top seed at 101 pounds. She beat East Stroudsburg’s Haley Delia in the semifinals, 10-0 and won the regional title by pinning Gannon’s Ghloe Kitagawa in 57 seconds, picking up key points for the Pioneers in the race for the Region 1 championship.

At 155 pounds, Sandquist had three pins including a pin of Elmira’s Skylah Chakouian in 4:45 to win her first regional championship.

Smith had a remarkable tournament at 191 pounds. She pinned No. 3 seed Shola Casen in 2:20 in her first round bout and pinned No. 2 seed Taynaa Labady of Elmira in 1:29 in the semifinals. In the championship match, she beat No. 1 seed Trinity Monaghan of Lock Haven, 6-1, to win the regional title and give the Pioneers the points to win the team championship.

Moniz (116) won her opening round match with a pin in 1:06 and beat No. 1 seed Abby Duke from Elmira in the semifinals, 5-0. In the finals, Moniz lost to East Stroudsburg’s Emily Klein, 5-2, to finish second.

Fitzgerald (130) came into the tournament ranked No. 7 in the country. She won her first round match with a pin in 14 seconds and pinned teammate Aliza Leander in the semifinals in 3:25. But she fell in the title match to Lock Haven’s Lillian Sherer, 12-6.

Sanusi (143) opened up the tournament with a 6-3 win over teammate Selena Sifuentes Shaffer before beating No. 1 seed Zoe Gress of East Stroudsburg in the semifinals, 6-4. Gress was ranked No. 7 in the country. In the final, Lock Haven’s Grace Stern beat Sanusi, 12-2.

Broadus (171) won her opening match by technical fall (10-0) and pinned Elmira’s Mariyah Casados in 1:27 in the semifinal. Broadus, ranked No. 7 in the country, dropped a 4-3 decision to Gannon’s Annabelle Helm, who is ranked No. 5 nationally.

McCormick (109) won a pair of bouts in the consolation round including a pin in 1:22 over teammate Ahsia Torres to earn a spot at the nationals. McCormick fell to Gannon’s Julianne Moccia in the consolation final, losing by pin 28 seconds.

Mullane (136) also lost her opening round match but went 2-1 in the consolation bracket to finish fourth. But since Mullane never faced fifth place Ariana Gonzalez of Gannon in the tournament, the two faced off in a true fourth place match and a bid to the national tournament. Mullane advanced with a pin in 4:18 of Gonzalez.

Sacred Heart coach Paulina Biega was also named the Region 1 coach of the year. In her second season, the Pioneers went 17-4 in dual meets and finished second at the East Stroudsburg Open, fourth at the Adrian Open in Michigan and won the Northeast Duals in January with a victory over No. 11 Gannon.

The NCWWC serves as the annual national championships for NCAA-affiliated varsity wrestling programs.

Women’s wrestling is currently an NCAA emerging sport in all three divisions (Div. I, Div. II, Div. III). The NCWWC is being hosted by a coalition of national wrestling organizations on behalf of the NCAA programs and will be held until women’s wrestling achieves official championship status within the NCAA.

NCWWC Region 1 championships
At Erie, Pa.
Team standings – 1. Sacred Heart 176, 2. Gannon University 172½, 3. East Stroudsburg University 135½, 4. Elmira College 106½, 5, Lock Haven University 103, 6. New Jersey City University 43½, 7. Delaware Valley 37, 8. Ursinus 33, 9. Alvernia 26½, 10. Cedar Crest 7, 11. Western New England 6 ½
Individual results
Final: Aaliyah Payne-Parris (Sacred Heart) pin Chloe Kitagawa (Gannon), 0:57
3. Skylynn Tomlinson (Elmira College) pin Haley Delia (East Stroudsburg), 1:10
5. Taylor Goguen (Elmira College) forfeit over Dyanne Pelaez (New Jersey City)
Final: Kaelani Shufeldt (Lock Haven) tech fall Izabella Frezzo (New Jersey City), 12-2
3. Julianne Moccia (Gannon) pin Taylor McCormick (Sacred Heart), 0:28
5. Ahsia Torres (Sacred Heart) tech fall Alanna Barberio (East Stroudsburg), 10-0
7. Ariyanna Orosco (Elmira College) pin Olivia Amaral (Western New England), 0:55
Final: Emily Klein (East Stroudsburg) dec. Nohea Moniz (Sacred Heart), 5-2
3. Samantha Larsen (Gannon) tech fall Waverly Kanelong (East Stroudsburg), 14-3
5. Jocelyn Lass (Ursinus) won by injury default over Abby Duke (Elmira College)
7. Tatiana Walker (Sacred Heart) pin Victoria Orender (Western New England), 1:17
True Fourth Place Match – Jocelyn Lass (Ursinus) dec. Waverly Kanelong (East Stroudsburg), 11-3
Final: Sofia Macaluso (East Stroudsburg) pin Naomi Henry (New Jersey City), 4:51
3. Mia Macaluso (East Stroudsburg) dec. Kalli Roskos (Ursinus), 8-1
5. Jayden Bazemore (Gannon) pin Carolina Rios (Sacred Heart), 5:25
Final: Lillian Sherer (Lock Haven) dec. Alexandra Fitzgerald (Sacred Heart), 12-6
3. Bridgette Schoultz (Delaware Valley) pin Juliana Cubias (Gannon), 4:23
5. Aliza Leander (Sacred Heart) forfeit over Nikoly Dos Santos (Gannon)
7. Gianna Amendola (East Stroudsburg) pin Lauren Gherman (Ursinus), 0:43
Final: Lana Perez (Gannon) pin Madison Matta (Lock Haven), 2:03
3. Gabby Bradigan (Elmira College) dec. Jullia Mullane (Sacred Heart), 10-6
5. Ariana Gonzalez (Gannon) forfeit over Veronica Whitacre (Sacred Heart)
7. Rachel Degiullo (East Stroudsburg) pin Avia Bibeau (East Stroudsburg), 0:58
True Fourth Match – Jullia Mullane (Sacred Heart) pin Ariana Gonzalez (Gannon), 4:18
Final: Grace Stem (Lock Haven) tech fall Khadijah Sanusi (Sacred Heart), 12-2
3. Lili Ujfalvi (Gannon) dec. Zoe Gress (East Stroudsburg), 4-3
5. Selena Sifuentes Shaffer (Sacred Heart) pin Olivia Kinder (Delaware Valley), 3:00
7. Leslie Monterrosa (Elmira College) tech fall Zakiyyah Sabir (Cedar Crest), 10-0
True Fourth Place Match – Zoe Gress (East Stroudsburg) pin Selena Sifuentes Shaffer (Sacred Heart), 1:52
Final: Madison Sandquist (Sacred Heart) pin Skylah Chakouian (Elmira College), 4:45
3. Stephanie Floor (Gannon) pin Hazel Dahlquist (Elmira College), 2:11
5. Raven Gardner-McCarthy (East Stroudsburg) won by injury default over Makayla Marrero-Mogel (Alvernia); 7. Draydon Charman (Cedar Crest)
True Fourth Place Match – Hazel Dahlquist (Elmira College) pin Raven Gardner-McCarthy (East Stroudsburg), 0:48
Final: Annabelle Helm (Gannon) dec. Cara Broadus (Sacred Heart), 4-3
3. Jewel Gonzalez (Gannon) pin Mariyah Casados (Elmira College), 5:28
5. Andrea Wilmoth (Alvernia) forfeit over Daminana Racciatti (East Stroudsburg)
7. Felisha Smith (East Stroudsburg) won by injury default over Caira Jaynes (Delaware Valley), 2:13
Final: Jacklyn Smith (Sacred Heart) dec. Trinity Monaghan (Lock Haven), 6-1
3. Tayana Labady (Elmira College) pin Shola Casen (East Stroudsburg), 0:50
5. Gianna Faura (Alvernia) and Amara Devericks (Gannon), DFF; 7. Elizabeth Harris (Ursinus)
NCWWC Region 1 championships brackets and results

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.

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