photo courtesy of Wayland Baptist athletics
With just over a week to go before the 2019 WCWA Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, women’s college wrestling is charging headlong into the post-season which also includes the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Invitational in Jamestown, North Dakota, next month. Much has happened since our last look at who the front-runners for the second Patricia Miranda Medal might be so an update is in order.
This award, presented annually to one outstanding female college wrestler, 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 important wrestling remaining before the decision must be made.
The previous Miranda Medal watch list article can be found here.
(In alphabetical order)
Paige Baynes (Wayland Baptist), 191
At the 2019 NWCA National Duals, Baynes led her team to a third-place finish with three dominant victories, including two tech-falls and a 14-second pin. Overall, the 2018 WCWA champion and three-time All-American is 6-0 since the mid-December update with each of her wins coming with bonus points. The intriguing clash between Baynes and impressive freshman Serena Woldring (Simon Fraser) is just one storyline to watch next weekend, and if Paige handles that match, she is a legitimate contender for this award.
Nicole Depa (Simon Fraser), 136
The three-time WCWA runner-up has not competed since mid-December which raises some question as to her form. However, when we’ve seen her on the mat, she has more than proven her ability.
Gracie Figueroa (Menlo College), 116
Fans of women’s wrestling have known of Figueroa for years as she made four age-group world teams and racked up five Fargo stop signs. Now, she is continuing her winning ways at the college level. Undefeated against WCWA competition on the season, Gracie has three wins over nationally ranked opposition, each coming by way of shutout tech. That includes a 10-0 victory over third-ranked Yurie Yoneoka (Providence). Chasing Figueroa is another Fargo champion in her first college season, Felicity Taylor (McKendree). Taylor has taken a couple of losses but has been dominant more often than not. She looks to have the best chance to stop Figueroa, though if history is any indication, that will be a tall order.
Alexandria Glaude (McKendree), 155
The McKendree Bearcats won their first National Duals title in early January with Glaude posting a 3-0 mark in the event. She had a pair of 8-0 victories, including one over fifth-ranked 143 Ana Luciano (King), and added a tight 1-1 decision against Hannah Gladden (Emmanuel) who currently sits fifth in the national rankings at 155 pounds. Alexandria’s bronze medal at the 2018 Under 23 World Championships started her season off on the right foot. Now, she’ll look to finish strong.
Jayden Laurent (Lakeland)/Ashlynn Ortega (King), 143
After Alexis Porter (McKendree) suffered through a rough National Duals, including a loss to Ortega, 143 pounds finds itself with a pair of freshmen atop the rankings with six of the top seven in their first two seasons of eligibility. Ashlynn’s hit list seems to grow with each passing week and includes Porter, Kayla Marano (Emmanuel), number four at 136, Ana Luciano (King), fifth-ranked at 143, and Zoe Wright (Life) who is also nationally ranked. However, it is Laurent who now occupies the top spot after her win over sophomore Felicity Bryant (Emmanuel), 2-1 at the Bearcat Open. With this much young talent, this weight could be wildly entertaining for years to come.
Brittany Marshall (Wayland Baptist), 170
When we last checked in on Marshall, a 2018 WCWA champion and three-time All-American, she had lost her number one spot after losing to freshman Nkechinyere Nwankwo (Oklahoma City). However, one loss hasn’t sent Brittany into a tail-spin. She was 3-0 at National Duals including a tech-fall over seventh-ranked 191 Stephanie Pantoja (Life) and a 15-6 victory against Hannah Gladden (Emmanuel), currently number five at 155. Marshall tacked on a 6-3 win over number five at her own weight, Dymond Guilford (Missouri Baptist) and, in the process, ascended back to the top spot.
Alleida Martinez (Menlo College), 109
Another first-year WCWA competitor looking to win it all right away, Martinez has been proficient at ending matches early, even against nationally ranked opposition. The 2018 Junior world team member who also owns two medals from past Cadet World Championships has 10-0 results against eighth-ranked Raven Guidry (Oklahoma City) and 2018 WCWA runner-up Maria Vidales (Emmanuel) in addition to a first-period fall against fifth-ranked Ciara McCrae (Simon Fraser). Alleida has also knocked off the number two 116 in the country, Felicity Taylor (McKendree), 8-3, this season. Along with longtime teammate Gracie Figueroa, Martinez is a big part of why Menlo has over-taken McKendree as the number one team in the WCWA.
Abigail Nette, (Emmanuel), 130
Nette suffered her first loss of the season when she was pinned by third-ranked Andribeth Rivera (Campbellsville), the 2017 WCWA champion at 123, at the National Duals. Nette had beaten Rivera previously this season and avenged the loss en route to a title at the Tornado Open, 16-6. Abigail also took down second-ranked Brenda Reyna (McKendree) in a much-anticipated bout, 7-5, in early January and notched a 10-0 tech at the expense of fifth-ranked Alyssa Aceval (King) at the Tornado Open. So, despite the loss, Nette finds herself atop the national rankings once again heading to Atlanta. After a third-place finish in 2018, she’ll be the favorite in a competitive weight class.
Dominique Parrish (Simon Fraser), 123
The 2018 champion at 123 pounds continued her title defense with an impressive performance at the Menlo College Open which included three shutout techs and a fall in 4:23. The pin came in the finals against fifth-ranked Tiana Jackson (Menlo). Considering her previous 8-0 win over the second-ranked wrestler in the weight, Parrish is sure to score high marks in record and dominance while her past credentials as a WCWA champion and three-time top three finisher also stack up well. The biggest issue for Dominique may be health after she was forced to injury default the finals at the Dave Schultz last weekend. Hopefully, that was nothing serious and Parrish can be at or close to 100% next weekend.
Asia Ray (Wayland Baptist), 101
After a third-place finish in 2018, Ray has put together a strong sophomore campaign that has seen her stiffest competition come from her third-ranked teammate, Nina Pham, who she beat 3-0. Asia has several other wins over top 10 foes including a 10-0 tech of number two Junnette Caldera (Jamestown), an identical result against sixth-ranked Angelina Gomez (Emmanuel), and a first-period pin of number eight Jaclyn McNichols (King). The 2017 Junior world bronze medalist has staked her claim as the wrestler to beat in the lightest weight class this season and it would be no surprise if it is an all Wayland Baptist final next weekend.