photo courtesy of Jim Thrall; MatFocus.com
Yesterday, we introduced you to the Women’s Junior World Team a group that looks as good as any Junior team in recent history. Now we have a Cadet team that could be even better! As one may expect with a Cadet team, there is always turnover due to girls aging out to the Junior level, and this team is no exception. Only one member of the 2018 team is back, but that is not a bad thing. A stunning four members of the 2018 Cadet World Team competed in this tournament, but could not make the team this time around. That speaks to the exceptional abilities which these girls possess and display at such a young age. Seven of the ten team members are high school freshmen, while one is an eighth-grader. Here is the 2019 World Team, a group that should challenge the Japanese, the Russians, and the Chinese, as well as previous American records.
40 kg – Sterling Dias (Nevada)
The only member of this team that is back from the 2018 squad is Sterling Dias. Sterling burst onto the scene and returned from Croatia with a Cadet World bronze medal. Her performance on Saturday suggests that she should be a favorite to pick up some more hardware this year, possibly a different shade of medal. In her four matches on the day, Dias did not surrender a single point, outscoring her competitors by the count of 41-0. After Cadet World’s in 2018, Sterling came back to the States and competed in Fargo and picked up a Cadet National title at 94 lbs.
43 kg – Alex Szkotnicki (Maryland)
The only eighth-grader on this roster is Alex Szkotnicki, who survived a three-match series against the older, larger Lizette Rodriguez. Lizette is a high school junior that was much taller and longer than Alex, yet she was able to get in close and cut down on the reach advantage of Rodriguez. Szkotnicki fell in the first match of the finals, yet battled back to take matches two and three on the strength of her defense and her ability to earn exposure points from her crotch lock. Alex’s path to the finals included wins over 2018 Fargo Cadet third-place finisher Grace Gundrum and 2018 Schoolgirl National runner-up Karina Vang.
46 kg – Sage Mortimer (Utah)
Like 43 kg, 46 also went to three matches and the winner, Sage Mortimer, was the one who fell in the opening bout. Not only did Mortimer lose, but she was also dominated by her opponent Nyla Valencia 11-0. Sage bounced back and won their second bout 7-2 before capping her tournament off with a fall in the third match. Mortimer was able to lock up her trip to Bulgaria with a cow-catcher that found Valencia fall on her back. The top-seeded Mortimer’s journey through the bracket saw her earn three tech falls, two of which were shutouts. Last year in Fargo, Sage won a stop sign in the Cadet division, was a runner-up to Emily Shilson in Junior’s, and even made the top-eight in Cadet Boys Greco-Roman.
49 kg – Cristelle Rodriguez (California)
One of three freshmen from California on the 2019 world team, Cristelle Rodriguez jumped out to a big 8-0 lead on Samara Chavez in the initial period of their first match before coasting to a 10-4 win. In the second bout, it was Chavez who was staked to an early lead 6-2. After the break, Rodriguez blew open the match by turning Samara three-times in a trapped-arm gut to hop back into the lead, 10-6. Chavez was able to get a late takedown, but it wasn’t enough, and Rodriguez took the title 10-8 and two matches to none. Last year, Rodriguez was victorious at this event at the Schoolgirl level. In high school action, Cristelle captured a California state title with her closest match coming by the score of 6-0.
53 kg – Adriana Dorado-Marin (Colorado)
Some of the other weight classes at the Cadet level had huge favorites, but 53 kg was sort of wide open, and it ended up with second-seeded Adriana Dorado-Marin downing the fourth-seed Melanie Mendoza in the finals. Even though Dorado-Marin won by tech in both of her final matches, she also was down early in both bouts. 2-0 in match number one and 4-0 in match two. No worries, as she did not allow any more scoring in either bout and went on to drop Mendoza by the scores of 13-2 and 15-4. Adriana was a Cadet National Champion last summer in Fargo, but she has had some off tournaments since, failing to place at the Junior tournament and at the Super 32. Her trek to the finals included three tech falls and a 9-4 victory over Sophie Smith.
57 kg – Skylar Hattendorf (New Hampshire)
In one of the most massive brackets of this event, Skylar Hattendorf turned in one of it’s most impressive performances with her part to a title. In the second round, she shut out Riley Dalrymple a Cadet third-place finisher in Fargo last year. Next up was a Fargo Cadet finalist Nanea Estrella who went down by the score of 12-4. In the quarters it was another All-American in Cayden Condit that was the next victim of Hattendorf, 8-4. That set the stage for her most impressive win of the tournament a 10-5 victory over 2018 World team member, Leliah Castro. Last year at Cadet Worlds, Castro came up short in the bronze medal match and settled for fifth place. Skylar only needed 40 seconds to pin Skye Realin in their first finals meeting. In the second, all Hattendorf needed was a four-point throw in the first period, as she cruised to a 4-1 win and never seemed seriously threatened.
61 kg – Kylie Welker (Wisconsin)
It had to be a difficult choice, as there were plenty of qualified candidates, but Kylie Welker was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Cadet tournament. Her case for the OW was quite good as Kylie teched her first three opponents and then won by fall in the quarters. That set up a match with the 2018 Cadet World team member Cheyenne Bowman. Welker scored the first two points of the match and never looked back, winning 9-1 and advancing to the finals against 2018 Fargo Cadet champion Mia Macaluso. Kylie made short work of Macaluso in the first match winning 12-0 and then secured a 14-4 tech in the second bout, as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
65 kg – Lillian Freitas (California)
Lillian Freitas is another freshman that is a California state champion on this team. Freitas had one of the more remarkable paths to the finals, as she took out three of the top-four wrestlers from the Cadet National 138 bracket (Jahnea Miguel – Hawaii, 1st; Sara Sulejmani – Illinois, 2nd; Jade Herzer – Wisconsin, 4th) last year in Fargo. Not only did she defeat these highly-touted foes, but none of the matches were really that close. Freitas beat Miguel and Sulejmani by six point and teched Herzer 10-0. Lillian’s finals showing was even more impressive, pinning Ella Nichols in 34 seconds, then teching her 10-0, in slightly over a minute.
69 kg – Amit Elor (California)
One of the wrestlers I anticipated seeing the most was Amit Elor, who did not disappoint. Also a freshman state champion in California, Elor did what she does best, score points in bunches and ending matches early. None of her final contests, including the finals, lasted more than a minute and she outscored her opponents by a combined tally of 51-0. Until proven differently, it will be hard for me to fathom that there is any 69 kg Cadet in the world that will be able to defeat Elor.
73 kg – Kennedy Blades (Illinois)
The same can be said for Kennedy Blades at 73 kg. One of the matchups I was anticipating most over this entire tournament, all age groups included, was between Blades and 2018 Cadet World team member Tristan Kelly. Well, if you turned away, you may have missed it. Blades picked an ankle off the whistle and was able to pin Kelly in only seven seconds! While another seven-second fall would be hard to duplicate, Kennedy was able to tech Kelly in their second meets 10-0 in only a minute and 19 seconds. Blades ran roughshod over the field at 73 kg on her way to the finals pinning three opponents and teching one other. None of those matches lasted more than 37 seconds.