Photo by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
When the 52nd annual NWCA All-Star classic kicks off on Sunday, November 5th, it will mark yet another major milestone for women’s college wrestling. This year’s event, hosted by the Wrestlers in Business Network and sponsored by Princeton Brain and Spine as well as Northwestern Mutual Life, will take place at Princeton University.
Women are no strangers to competing at the NWCA All-Star Classic. Past events typically included a women’s match that took place with other showcase bouts prior to the main event. Last year’s card included a match between Haley Augello (King University) and Becka Leathers (Oklahoma City), won by Augello, 7-4. What makes this year’s event so significant for the women is for the first time in its history the NWCA All-Star Classic will feature a full slate of women’s bouts alongside the men’s in the main event. For a sport that has many advocate groups fighting for it to be recognized by the NCAA as an emerging sport, this is a major step forward.
“We have always been a small piece of the show or the big stage. This year we are we are not just a small piece, but half the pie,” said USAW Developmental National Team coach and Wrestle Like A Girl board member, Emma Randall, when asked about the event’s significance. “This is what so many people have fought for; equal opportunity, matches, and equal coverage. The All-Star Classic will only strengthen our bid for emerging sport status.”
Below is a look at the ten women’s matches set to take place at the historic 52nd annual NWCA All-Star Classic.
101: Hiba Salem, Jr. (Menlo) vs. Marina Doi, Sr. (King)
Menlo’s Hiba Salem and King University’s Marina Doi are set to meet at 101 pounds. Salem, a two-time All-American, having placed sixth in 2016 and fourth in 2017, is one of two representatives from Menlo competing in the event. She starts the season ranked fourth in the WCWA preseason poll and is coming off a third-place finish at the Blue Chip Open where she didn’t yield a single point in her seven victories by tech fall.
Marina Doi is on pace to go down as one of the greatest light-weight wrestlers in the history of the WCWA. The senior from King University is already a three-time finalist and two-time WCWA national champion. Her lone blemish at the WCWA championships came in her freshman season when she fell to four-time national champion Emily Webster (Oklahoma City). The former Cadet World champion and Junior World bronze medalist starts the season as the top-ranked wrestler at 101 pounds. She has already won the Emmanuel Tournament and also went undefeated at the Patriot Duals. Salem and Doi met in the semifinals of last year’s WCWA National Championships in a match won by Doi, 7-0.
109: Maria Vidales, So. (Emmanuel) vs. Charlotte Fowler, So. (Campbellsville)
Two returning All-American sophomores will compete against each other when Emmanuel’s Maria Vidales and Campbellsville’s Charlotte Fowler meet at 109 pounds. Vidales, the WCWA’s preseason top-ranked wrestler at 109 pounds, was a third-place finisher at the 2017 WCWA National Championships. She started off her season with a runner-up finish at the USAW U23 World Team Trials and a third-place finish at the Emmanuel Tournament.
Charlotte Fowler went into the 2017 WCWA National Championships as an unseeded wrestler and was able to work her way to a fifth-place finish to earn All-American honors. She starts the 2017-18 season as the third ranked wrestler at 109 pounds. Fowler is coming off a third place finish at the USAW U23 World Team Trials and an impressive performance at the Patriot Duals.
Vidales and Fowler, both from Texas, are no strangers to each other. They have wrestled many times going back high school with Vidales victorious in their most recent match when the two met in the semifinals of the USAW U23 World Team Trials.
116: Fayth Woodward, Jr. (Emmanuel College) vs. Makayla Bourbon, Sr. (University of the Cumberlands)
Squaring off at 116 pounds is Fayth Woodward of Emmanuel College and Makayla Bourbon of the University of the Cumberlands. Woodward will be the second participant in the All-Star Classic for rising program Emmanuel College. She transferred to Emmanuel from Southwestern Oregon Community College after earning an eighth place All-American finish in 2017. Woodward enters the season as the fourth ranked wrestler at 116 pounds. She started the 2017-18 season going 2-2 at the USAW U23 World Team Trials and then followed that up with a third place performance at the Emmanuel Tournament.
Makayla Bourbon enters her senior season looking for her first All-American finish after a successful 2016-17 season that saw her make the round of twelve at the WCWA National Championships. She is currently unranked in the initial WCWA preseason rankings and has already competed at the Emmanuel Tournament as well as The Patriot Duals.
123: Dominique Parrish, Jr. (Simon Fraser) vs. Amber Pair, So., (Eastern Oregon)
Two-time All-American Dominique Parrish will compete against Amber Pair at 123 pounds. The junior Parrish was a third place finisher as a freshman and runner-up at the 2017 WCWA National Championships. She is the first of two Simon Fraser wrestlers competing at this event. She enters the season as the second ranked wrestler at 123 pounds. Parrish most recently won her weight class at the USAW U23 World Team Trials without surrendering a single point in four matches. She defeated former Cadet world champion Ronna Heaton in the finals and will compete at the U23 World Championships in Poland, November 21-26.
Eastern Oregon’s Amber Pair steps in for Andribeth Rivera (Campbellsville) who was originally slated to compete. Pair made it to the round of twelve at the 2017 WCWA National Championships as a freshman. She has an extensive background in Judo having been a national champion as a kid. The seventh ranked wrestler at 116 pounds started off her season with a win by fall in a dual against Umpqua Community College.
130: Megan Black, Sr. (McKendree) vs. Shelby Hall, Sr. (Campbellsville)
In the 130-pound match-up fans will see Megan Black of McKendree and Shelby Hall of Campbellsville face-off. Black is a three-time All-American who has twice been runner-up at the WCWA National Championships. She is currently the top-ranked wrestler at 130 pounds and recently won the 55 kg weight class at the USAW U23 World Team Trials. A native of Iowa, Black was the first girl to place at the Iowa State Wrestling tournament when she finished eighth at 106 pounds in 2012.
Hall enters the season as the second-ranked wrestler at 130 pounds. The senior is a three-time WCWA All-American with finishes of eighth as a freshman, third as a sophomore, and fourth in her junior season. The Doylestown, Ohio native started this season off 5-0 in duals, including three wins at the recent Patriot Duals. Hall and Black wrestled in the semifinals of the 2017 WCWA National Championships in a bout won by Black.
136: Kayla Miracle, Sr. (Campbellsville) vs. Solin Piearcy, So. (Menlo College)
At 136 pounds fans will get to see Kayla Miracle of Campbellsville take on Solin Piearcy of Menlo College. Miracle has entered the WCWA National Championships three times as the number one seed and come away as a national champion in all three attempts. This year she seeks to become just the fourth four-time national champion in the history of the WCWA. This summer she added to her already long list of accomplishments, winning a bronze medal at the Spanish Grand Prix and recently won the 60 kg weight class at the USAW U23 World Team Trials. Miracle also recently competed at the Beat the Streets Los Angeles 4th Annual Benefit, winning her match against Yoshimi Kayama of Japan, 10-4.
Piearcy entered the 2017 WCWA National Championships as the five seed and was able to wrestle to hit her seed on the number, securing a fifth place All-American finish as a freshman. The second wrestler representing Menlo College at the All-Star Classic is currently the fifth ranked wrestler in the county at 136 pounds. The former multiple-time USAW Junior Nationals All-American from San Jose, California recently competed at the Blue Chip Open finishing as the runner-up at 136 pounds.
143: Mallory Velte, Sr. (Simon Fraser) vs. Desiree Zavala, So. (Grays Harbor)
In what could be a preview of the 2018 WCWA National Championship 143 pound final, Mallory Velte of Simon Fraser University will wrestle Desiree Zavala of Grays Harbor. Velte, the top-ranked wrestler at 143 pounds, has won the WCWA National Championships the last two years after finishing fourth as a freshman. One of the top wrestlers in the country, she recently represented the United States at the 2017 World Championships losing her only match wrestled against a very tough Nigerian opponent. This summer she also competed at the Spanish Grand Prix earning a bronze medal.
Zavala transferred to Grays Harbor in the off-season after earning a third place All-American finish for Southern Oregon University. She enters the season as the third ranked wrestler at 143 pounds in the initial rankings. The former four-time Washington state champion has already finished third at the USAW U23 World Team Trials and recently won the Blue Chip Open wrestling down at 136 pounds.
155: Niauni Hill, Sr. (Lindenwood-Belleville) vs. Kiera Gabaldon, Jr. (Warner Pacific)
In the 155 pound match, Niauni Hill of Lindenwood-Belleville will meet up with Kiera Gabaldon of Warner Pacific in what could be another preview of a finals match in February. The senior Hill is a three-time All-American and has improved each year at the WCWA National Championships. She has finishes of seventh, third, and second. She looks to become the first WCWA national champion for Lindenwood-Belleville. Entering the season as the country’s top ranked wrestler at 155 pounds, she was a runner-up at the USAW U23 World Team Trials and recently went undefeated at the Patriot Duals.
Gabaldon, a two-time All-American from Warner Pacific starts the season as the number two ranked wrestler at 155 pounds behind Hill. Last year as a sophomore she entered the WCWA National Championships as an unseeded wrestler and fought her way to a third place All-American finish. The previous year as a freshman she finished fourth. She recently finished as a runner-up at the Blue Chip Open where she reeled off seven straight victories before having to default in the finals.
170: Brandy Lowe, Sr. (McKendree) vs. Kacie Moorehouse So. (Grays Harbor)
Squaring off at 170 pounds will be Brandy Lowe of McKendree University and Kacie Moorehouse of Grays Harbor College. McKendree’s Lowe is a two-time All-American who finished as runner-up at 191 pounds as a freshman in 2015 before transferring from Ottawa University. Her only loss that year came in the WCWA finals. Then, after taking a redshirt year, she finished third at 170 pounds in 2017. She enters the season as the number two ranked wrestler at 170 pounds and will definitely be in contention for a national championship this year.
Moorehouse is a late edition to the event, replacing top ranked Jessica Rottier (Cumberlands). Last year, as a freshman, Moorehouse became the first All-American for the Grays Harbor program when she finished eighth after entering the tournament unseeded. She enters the 2017-18 season ranked sixth at 170 pounds.
191: Paige Baynes, Jr. (Grays Harbor) vs. Alyssa Cantu, Sr. (Missouri Valley)
Paige Baynes of Grays Harbor College and Alyssa Cantu of Missouri Valley College will wrestle at 191 pounds. Baynes will make it three wrestlers from Grays Harbor to compete at the All-Star Classic. She is a two-time All-American who recently transferred from Lindenwood. Last year, as a sophomore at the WCWA National Championships, she finished as the runner-up at 191 pounds, losing to Payten Smith of Simon Fraser University in the finals. She placed sixth at the tournament in 2016.
Cantu was an All-American in the 2017 WCWA National Championships as well. Reaching the quarterfinals after two impressive victories, she too fell to Simon Fraser’s Payten Smith before battling back for a fifth place finish. The junior out of Stockton, California is currently ranked fifth in the country at 191 pounds. She recently went 3-1 at the Patriot Duals