In this week’s WCWA update, we look back at the five best performances you may have missed from the Bearcat Open and take a look at an upcoming dual between two top-10 programs.
Top Performances from the 2018 Bearcat Open
Wrestlers from 20 different schools and clubs flocked to the Melvin Price Convocation Center in Lebanon, Illinois this past weekend to do a little grappling at the 2018 Bearcat Open. Fans were treated to seven of the top-10 ranked teams in the WCWA and many wrestlers ranked in the top-eight of their respective weight classes. This gave athletes another chance to see how their skills stack up against some of the best with the WCWA National Championships just around the corner. Six different schools crowned a champion, with McKendree University and Campbellsville University leading the way, each with three individual weight class winners. Below we take a look at five of the most impressive performances.
1) In a weight class featuring three wrestlers ranked in the top-eight, including multiple-time All-Americans Regina Doi (King) and Hiba Salem (Menlo), it was McKendree University’s unranked Genae Sampract that found herself on top of the 101-pound weight class. Opening up her day with a 10-0 technical fall over her Lindenwood University opponent, Sampract then met up with the third-ranked two-time All-American Salem. It took Sampract all of 2:13 to record the fall and advance to the semifinals where she then had to take on Emmanuel’s eighth-ranked Iesha Washington. Sampract came out victorious in a high scoring match, winning 10-9. This would set up a match in the finals with Doi, a three-time All-American. Unfortunately, Doi would need to injury default leaving Sampract as the 101-pound champion.
2) Emmanuel’s Cody Pfau has been nothing short of dominant at 109-pounds since taking the mats midway through the season and the two-time national champion’s performance this weekend was no different. Going 4-0 on the day, Pfau spent a total of 3:52 on the mat in total, barely enough time to for me to even write this summary of her performance. In her opening round match, it took 30-seconds to pin Oklahoma City’s Raven Guidry. Pfau followed that up with another quick pin, this time over McKendree’s Vanessa Ramirez. In the semifinals, she then pinned Alexandra Christoforatos of Menlo College in just 44 seconds, setting up a finals match with fifth-ranked Charlotte Fowler of Campbellsville University. Fowler had nothing for Pfau and was soundly defeated via 10-0 technical fall. It’s this type of performance that has Pfau on the initial watch list for the inaugural 2018 Miranda Medal.
3) The 123-pound weight class was absolutely loaded this weekend. It featured at least seven wrestlers ranked in the top-eight in the country, including to the surprise of many, Campbellsville’s Koral Sugiyama. Why is this a surprise you ask? Well, Sugiyama is the number three wrestler in the country at 136-pounds; the same weight at which teammate Kayla Miracle holds the number one spot. If Sugiyama’s move to 123-pounds is permanent, it could have major implications for the team race at the 2018 WCWA National Championships. On the day, Sugiyama went 5-0 with five pins which led the tournament. After pinning Tiffany Juarez of Ottawa in the opening round she then pinned McKendree’s fifth-ranked Lindsey Spjut in the quarterfinals, King’s seventh-ranked Briana Kellin in the semifinals, and the second-ranked 123-pound wrestler in the country, Brenda Reyna of McKendree University, in the finals. Not only was Sugiyama’s performance one of the most impressive at the Bearcat Open, but may have been one of the most impressive in all of college wrestling over the weekend.
4) McKendree’s Megan Black put on a quite the show running through the 130-pound bracket this weekend, going 5-0 in the process. Black, a two-time national runner-up, is looking for that elusive WCWA crown this season and is also on the initial watch list for the inaugural 2018 Miranda Medal. Defeating her opening round opponent from Emmanuel College by 10-0 technical fall, Black then secured a quick fall over Andrea Altamira of Lindenwood University. She then defeated her quarterfinals opponent, Logan Mize of Lyon College, by 10-0 technical fall. This set up a semifinal match against the second-ranked 130-pound wrestler in the country, Campbellsville’s Shelby Hall. Black kept Hall from scoring and moved on to the finals with an 8-0 victory. In the finals, she ended her day with another pin, this time over 2016 All-American Alexia Ward (McKendree).
5) For the second week in a row Oklahoma City University’s Rachel Watters has dominated the competition at a tournament. Watters, the second-ranked wrestler in the country at 170-pounds, steamrolled through her bracket this weekend at the Bearcat Open on her way to the title. Starting things off with an opening round pin of King’s Keely Sage, she then defeated Hannah Gladden via 12-2 technical fall. In the semifinals, Watters would quickly put away Katie Sugden of Missouri Valley with another technical fall, this time 10-0. In the finals, Watters was pitted against sixth-ranked Mariah Harris of Campbellsville University after she upset third-ranked Precious Bell to reach the finals. It didn’t take long for Watters to claim the title after a quick 10-0 tech fall victory over Harris. Watters finished seventh at the 2017 WCWA National Championships and will be one of the favorites to claim the 170-pound crown at the 2018 tournament.
Match to Watch this Week
#9 Oklahoma City University (2-2) vs. #5 Wayland Baptist University (3-2)
The ninth-ranked Oklahoma City University Stars will host the fifth-ranked Wayland Baptist University Pioneers in a battle of top-10 teams on January 26th, 2018. Both teams recently competed at the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals. Wayland Baptist went 3-2 and placed fourth while Oklahoma City University finished 2-2 placing seventh. However, they did not wrestle each other. Oklahoma City University is coming off a solid performance at the Bearcat Open that saw them put seven wrestlers on the podium, including Rachel Watters, the 170-pound champion. If both lineups are at full strength, we should be treated to a potential #1 vs. #2 match-up at 170-pounds. Second-ranked Rachel Watters and top-ranked Brittany Marshall should meet up in what could be a preview of the national finals in a couple of weeks.
101 – N/A vs. #4 Asia Ray, Fr. (WBU)
109 – Raven Guidry, Fr. (OCU) vs. Evelynn Simmons, Jr. (WBU)
116 – Leiana Nacapuy, Fr. (OCU) vs. #8 Rhonda Johnson, Jr. (WBU)
123 – #8 Monica Mendoza, Fr. (OCU) vs. #2 (116) Gabriela Ramos-Diaz, Fr. (WBU)
130 – Daniela Flores, Jr. (OCU) vs. Rebekah Cordova, So. (WBU)
136 – Natalia Hinojo, Sr. (OCU) vs. #4 (143) Brittany Bates, So. (WBU)
143 – Erin Redford, Fr. (OCU) vs. #6 Marina Briceno, Jr. (WBU)
155 – #6 Yvonne Galindo, Sr. (OCU) vs. Raven Thomas, Sr. (WBU)
170 – #2 Rachel Watters, So. (OCU) vs. #1 Brittany Marshall, Jr. (WBU)
191 – McKyla Kerr, Fr. (OCU) vs. Alexis Tarango, Jr. (WBU)