The first college wrestling national championship event is almost here as the WCWA National Championships take place this weekend, February 9th and 10th, 2018 in Oklahoma City. More than 300 of the best women's college wrestlers will compete starting at 10 am Friday morning. Top-ranked Campbellsville spent much of the season chasing Simon Fraser, only over-taking them in the final rankings of the regular season. That put the Tigers on top for the first time in program history and they now set about trying to claim their first team national title. Senior Kayla Miracle (136) leads that talented crew as she looks to make history by becoming just the fourth wrestler in WCWA history to win four titles. McKendree and Simon Fraser appear to be their biggest challengers meaning we will almost certainly have a new champion after King reigned supreme for the last four years.
The champions here, if they are from the US, qualify for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in May which feeds into the new Final X series and produces the members of the Senior world team. There are athletes with international experience, both for Team USA and from other countries, throughout these fields and the brackets seem to get deeper every year. A record 32 teams will contest this year's event as the sport continues to grow. TOM will be live on hand as the event unfolds.
Join us now as we go weight-by-weight through the entrants, discuss what lies ahead, and make our predictions for the top eight!
The lightest class in college wrestling will be a classic battle between veterans looking to hold their spot in the pecking order against a strong group of freshmen looking to prove themselves. The favorite is Marina Doi (King), the two-time defending champion and three-time WCWA finalist. Doi has not lost at 101 in college competition since November of 2015. However, she has a pair of losses up at 109 in 2017-18 and she suffered an injury during a dual with Emmanuel a month ago. We haven't seen Marina since, though the Tornado have not competed since January 20th. I'm told that she is healthy, but keep an eye on the champion early. Last season, Marina met her twin sister Regina, a three-time All-American herself, in the finals here and they enter as the top two in the last regular season rankings.
Behind the Doi sisters, an influx of youth could see many new faces on the podium in this weight class. The third through sixth-ranked wrestlers are all freshmen and number seven is a sophomore. Asia Ray (Wayland Baptist) is ranked third, having beaten fourth-ranked Genae Sampract (McKendree) and fifth-ranked Nina Pham (Grays Harbor) at the National Duals. Ray and Sampract also clashed at last year's Women's Nationals with Asia coming away victorious, 9-6. Sampract was the only wrestler to score on Ray as she earned a spot on the Junior world team. She would go on to earn a bronze medal in Finland. Sixth-ranked McKayla Campbell (Campbellsville), a two-time Junior world team member, spent much of the year up at 109 and competed as high as 123 before dropping down in late January to beat seventh-ranked Iesha Washington (Emmanuel). Washington beat Ray at the National Duals so expect some fireworks here.
Four other past All-Americans will try to keep the youngsters at bay. Junior Hiba Salem (Menlo) has been fourth and sixth the last two years. Maia Phanthadara (Univ. of the Cumberlands) was sixth in 2017. Arelys Valles (Univ. of the Cumberlands) was seventh in 2015 and enters ranked 10th. Cassidy Ferrell (King) was seventh a year ago.
1st – Marina Doi (King)
2nd – Regina Doi (King)
3rd – Asia Ray (Wayland Baptist)
4th – Genae Sampract (McKendree)
5th - McKayla Campbell (Campbellsville)
6th – Hiba Salem (Menlo)
7th – Nina Pham (Grays Harbor)
8th – Iesha Washington (Emmanuel)
Want to read more of this article and others like it? Become a TOM Prime member today!