Pictured: Arizona State commits Korina Blades (left) and Kennedy Blades (right). Graphic courtesy of the Wrestlers Papi Twitter Page (@Fighterspapi).
This article is presented by Adidas Wrestling.
What a Saturday it has been for Sunkist Kids RTC head coach Mark Perry and the Arizona State University Regional Training Center!
In arguably the biggest recruiting surprise of the weekend, two of the best women’s high school wrestlers in the country from the Class of 2022, siblings Kennedy and Korina Blades, both UWW age-level World champions, announced their college decisions.
The pair is headed to Arizona State University, where they will train under former two-time Iowa NCAA champion Mark Perry and compete with the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club.
Arizona State does not currently have a sanctioned women’s program. However, its regional training center boasts an impressive resident athlete roster, which including numerous World and Olympic medalists.
Kennedy and Korina chose ASU over presumptive heavy favorite Iowa, which recently added the first women’s Power Five wrestling program in the nation, and North Central College, in Naperville, Illinois.
Sunkist Kids-Arizona State University it is!
— American Women’s Wrestling (@AWWnewsfeed) February 13, 2022
The announcement came in an interview with FloWrestling’s David Bray. The full interview was released Saturday night, just before the Bout at the Ballpark festivities.
Kennedy also posted the following message to her Instagram and Twitter pages.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be pursuing my Olympic wrestling dream at Sunkist Kids RTC while attending ASU!! I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for all of my supporters and family for being with me since the beginning ❤️🔱 #forksup #glorytoGod
Both Kennedy and Korina have amassed great international accolades while representing USA Wrestling on the World stage, especially within the last 12 months.
Last April, Kennedy turned heads at the Olympic Team Trials when Kennedy and future Iowa Hawkeye Kylie Welker marched to the Best-of-three Olympic Team Trial finals as high school juniors. Kennedy fell, two matches to zero, to eventual 2020 Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock at 68 kilos.
Despite not competing in Tokyo, Kennedy went on to win gold at the UWW Junior World Championships (72 kg) in Ufa, Russia, in April 2021. Blades was 4-0 with three techs and a 17-second pin in the finals in Russia en route to her Junior World crown. Kennedy also finished ninth at the 2019 Cadet World Championships.
Currently, USA Wrestling has the 18-year-old ranked third overall in its latest pound-for-pound national high school rankings. Kennedy is ranked No. 2 at 164 pounds in that same ranking, behind only Welker.
As for Korina, she, too, had a stellar summer on the international circuit. Korina competed at the 2021 Cadet World Championships and the 2021 Junior World Championships. While Korina didn’t medal at the Cadet level, she rebounded by winning a bronze at the Junior World Championships, against older and tougher competition Additionally, Korina has a 2019 U15 World gold medal to her credit as well.
USA Wrestling has Korina ranked fifth in its latest pound-for-pound national rankings. Korina is ranked No. 1 at 138 pounds in that same ranking.
With Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis, World silver medalist Kayla Miracle, World bronze medalist Forrest Molinari, and now the Blades sisters all training out of the Sunkist Kids RTC, ASU is becoming a destination for women’s freestyle wrestling. That’s for sure!
Will ASU be the next Power Five university to create a women’s wrestling program? Only time will tell. That said, this will only further fuel the ongoing rumors that a women’s wrestling team might be headed to ASU in the near future.