photo courtesy of Chris Mora; Tech-Fall.com
With less than two months to go until the 2019 WCWA Championships, the women’s college wrestling season is already in high gear. We’ve already seen multiple past national champions defeated and a talented group of freshmen are making an impact. As we make our way ever closer to the post-season, a small group of wrestlers stand apart from the rest as contenders for the 2019 Patricia Miranda Medal.
This award, presented annually to one outstanding WCWA athlete, is voted on by a committee of past champions and media members. That group now includes the winner of the first Miranda medal, Kayla Miracle, who wrapped up her college career by winning her fourth WCWA crown and leading Campbellsville, coached by her father Lee Miracle, to their first team title. Kayla won the 2018 award based on four criteria: record, dominance, past credentials, and additional accomplishments. As we turn an eye toward who might be our next winner, please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. The voters are free to consider anyone, even if they do not appear in this article. There is still plenty of wrestling left before the decision must be made.
Paige Baynes, Wayland Baptist, 191
A returning 2018 WCWA champion that remains undefeated, Baynes won her title for Grays Harbor, after previous finished of 6th in 2016, and 2nd in 2017. Now representing Wayland Baptist, she holds the top ranking at 191 pounds and is coming off a victory at the Cliff Keen West Coast TOC. Paige’s stiffest competition this season may come from freshman Serena Woldring (Simon Fraser) who has climbed up to the second spot in the national rankings already. Woldring has had an impressive start to her college career, but was not among the Simon Fraser grapplers at the West Coast TOC. While that denied us a potential one versus two clash, it means we could well see those two meet for the first time in the WCWA finals if they both keep winning.
Nicole Depa, Simon Fraser, 136
While Depa is not a WCWA champion yet, she has more finals appearances than anyone on this list. Her three runner-up finishes have to be fueling her as she navigates her final college season. The senior won a gold medal at the 2017 Junior Pan American Championships for Canada and represented her country at the Junior World Championships that year as well. Nicole took top honors at the Mike Clock Open this season and has a clear path to enter the WCWA tournament undefeated. There she could meet second-ranked Nicole Joseph (King) whose only loss came up at 143 at the All-Star Classic. Joseph produced a fourth-place finish to cap the 2017-18 season.
Alexandria Glaude, McKendree, 155
A bronze medal at the 2018 Under 23 World Championships made Glaude, along with Korinhae Bullock (McKendree) who also earned a bronze, the first American woman to medal at that event. It also made the 2017 WCWA All-American an intriguing candidate for the Miranda Medal. Alexandria sits atop the rankings at 155, and while she doesn’t have the college resume of some of the others on this list, her international success might give her a boost. The junior also made the 2017 Junior world team. After not competing for McKendree last season, Glaude will be aiming to end her season atop the podium. If she does and some of the other favorites stumble, it will be interesting to see what the voters do.
Abigail Nette, Emmanuel, 130
One of the fascinating aspects of the WCWA is how often these athletes move around to different weight classes. Nette finished third in the country at 123 last season, beating Brenda Reyna (McKendree), 14-4, after falling to Dominique Parrish (Simon Fraser), 10-4. This season both Nette and Reyna moved up to 130, where they are currently ranked first and second respectively. Abigail won at the All-Star over third-ranked Erika Mihalca (Missouri Baptist), 10-0, then beat Andribeth Rivera (Campbellsville), who was the 2017 WCWA champion at 123, ahead of Parrish. Nette also notched a W up at 136 pounds over the third-ranked wrestler in that weight, Solin Piearcy (Menlo), 4-3. We could see Nette and Reyna battle at the National Duals if their teams match-up, but if not, they could scrap for the first time this season in the WCWA finals.
Dominique Parrish, Simon Fraser, 123
Parrish is one of three 2018 WCWA champions expected to compete for another gold medal in February. The senior from Simon Fraser finally stood atop the podium last season after finishing third, then second in her first two attempts. She has looked like a dominant force this season, topping the number one ranked 116, Gabriela Ramos-Diaz (Wayland Baptist), 10-0, at the All-Star, then blanking the competitor ranked just behind her at 123, Dajan Treder (Providence), 8-0, to win the Cliff Keen West Coast TOC. These performances were sandwiched around a second consecutive trip to the Under 23 World Championships where Parrish fell in the bronze medal match. If Dominique continues to wrestle this well, expect her to receive plenty of votes.
Alexis Porter, McKendree, 143
Another wrestler looking for her first WCWA crown, Porter is already a three-time All-American after falling in the finals last season to Mallory Velte (Simon Fraser). Velte would go on to win a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships. Alexis is no stranger to success on the international stage either, having won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2016. The senior opened her final campaign with a title at the Lady Warrior Open then defeated the second-ranked wrestler at 136, Nicole Joseph (King) at the All-Star Classic. 143 is one of several weight classes that have seen freshman earn high rankings this season. Porter is the only wrestler ranked in the top nine that is an upperclassman with freshmen Jayden Laurent (Lakeland) and Ashlynn Ortega (King) her closest pursuers.
Others to watch:
Brittany Marshall (Wayland Baptist) 170 – 3x WCWA All-American, Defending Champion, Lost to freshman Nkechinyere Nwankwo (Oklahoma City), Nwankwo is now #1 at 170
Asia Ray (Wayland Baptist) 101 – 3rd in 2018, #1 at 101
Gabriela Ramos-Diaz (Wayland Baptist), 116 – 3rd in 2018, #1 at 116