2021 U23 World Championships

Shilson and Welker Bring Home First Two U23 World Medals with Pins in Finals

Photo of Kylie Welker by Tony Rotundo.

Session eight at the U23 World Championships Thursday afternoon in Belgrade was arguably the best round thus far for Team USA across all styles. Emily Shilson and Kylie Welker both brought home U23 World medals for their country. Shilson won gold, and Welker won bronze. Alyvia Fiske narrowly missed a bronze medal of her own, losing a 3-3 match on criteria.

Inside the Medal Matches

Shilson wasted little time on the mat to earn her medal. Shilson found herself trailing 2-0 after giving up an early takedown. Then, after a restart, Shilson was able to throw India’s Shivani Pawar to her back for four points. From there, Shilson was able to work and secure the fall just 1:08 into the opening period. 

Emily has now become both a Junior World gold medalist and a U23 World gold medalist in 2021. What a run for the Augsburg University standout from Maple Grove, Minnesota! With her latest World gold medals, Emily now has a World gold at the Cadet (2018), Junior (2021), and U23 (2021) levels.  


Her teammate, high schooler Kylie Welker, followed suit with a first-period fall of her own over Ecuador’s Genesis Reasco. Welker got the first takedown of the match and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. From there, a huge feet-to-back takedown was all it took. Welker recorded the fall with 0:45 left in the first period. 

Like Shilson, Welker has now medaled at both the 2021 Junior World Championships (gold) and the 2021 U23 World Championships (bronze) over the last few months. 

At 68kg, in what wasn’t an offensive match for either wrestler, Fiske fell on criteria in a match that ended 3-3 against Ukraine’s Oksana Chudyk, a 2021 U23 Senior European Championships gold medalist. Both wrestlers exchanged a passivity point and one takedown each. Fiske got out to a 3-0 lead but wasn’t able to hold on. She finishes in fifth. 

The Semifinal Bouts

Kayla Marano, the only American to wrestle in the  session, was pinned by Ukraine’s Anastasiya Alpyeyeva, a 2019 Junior World Championships bronze medalist and ninth-place finisher at the 2019 U23 Senior World Championships. The match lasted just 1:08.

Still, Morano wrestles for bronze tomorrow, Friday afternoon. She will face the winner of India’s Divya Kakran and Kazakhstan’s Alexandra Zaitseva.

Repechage Re-Entry

Unfortunately, Team USA was eliminated from repechage play at 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, and 65kg.

At 53kg, Ukraine’s Mariia Vynnyk lost in the semifinals. At 57kg, Nigeria’s Esther Kolawole was pinned in the semifinals. At 62kg, Italy’s Aurora Campagna lost in the final seconds of her semifinal. match. Lastly, India’s Nisha loses her 65 kg semifinal match. Thus, Ronna Heaton, Amanda Martinez, Emma Bruntil, and Ashlynn Ortega are finished in Serbia.

Check out the brackets and match replays here on FloWrestling.


Session I Recap here

Session 2 Recap here

Session 3 Recap here

Session 4 Recap here

Session 5 Recap here

Session 6 Recap here

Session 7 Recap here

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