photo courtesy of Augsburg athletics
With Labor Day having come and gone, we inch closer and closer to the beginning of the college season. For women’s wrestling, this should be a banner year. 14 schools are set to offer women’s wrestling for the first time, two states will get their first women’s collegiate programs (South Carolina, and West Virginia), while Minnesota gets an active program (Minnesota-Morris offered women’s wrestling from 1993-2003). As good as those numbers sound, expect them to grow in 2020-21 as eight colleges have already pledged to start women’s team’s during that school years. But before we get ahead of ourselves and worry about next season, let’s take a look at the women’s programs that will hit the mat for the first time in just a few short months.
Alderson Broaddus Battlers – Phillipi, West Virginia (DII)
Head Coach: Sam Gardner
The plan for Alderson Broaddus in 2019-20 is to bring in a small class and wrestle and abbreviated schedule. Next year, with two recruiting classes enrolled, the Battlers will wrestle a full schedule.
Staff: Sam Gardner will handle coaching the women’s team along with the men’s squad. The 2019-20 season will be his fifth leading the wrestling program. Under his direction, two wrestlers have combined to qualify for the DII national tournament on three occasions. Gardner is a Maryland native, so he may turn back to his hometown roots when looking to recruit for the women’s team. He’ll be in luck, as Maryland will sanction a girl’s state tournament for the first time in 2019-20.
Augsburg Auggies – Minneapolis, Minnesota (DIII)
Head Coach: Max Mejia
Emily Shilson (109)
Vayle Baker (116/123)
Gabby Skidmore (123)
Kaylee Moore (130/136)
Melissa Jacobs (143)
Marlynne Deede (155)
Faith Tuttle (170/191)
There’s a lot to be excited about surrounding the first year of the Augsburg women’s wrestling program. Augsburg has a storied history with their men’s team, so there’s no doubt that the school, administration, and the community will support the women’s program, as well. Augsburg becomes the only school in the state of Minnesota that offers women’s wrestling.
This summer three Augsburg signees (Emily Shilson, Gabby Skidmore, and Kaylee Moore) won Junior National titles in Fargo. Additionally, Vayle Baker captured one in 2018. The first class for Augsburg is capable of competing with any of the top women’s programs in the nation, in year one. TOM’s recruiting class rankings were published before the bulk of this class had signed, yet they still were ranked third at that time.
Staff: Mejia was a coach this year on the Junior Pan-American team while volunteer assistant Chad Shilson assisted with the Junior world team, earlier this month.
The Auggies are expected to attend the National Dual and will take part in a home-and-home series with fellow new arrival, UW Stevens-Point.
Central Methodist Eagles – Fayette, Missouri (NAIA)
Head Coach: Brieana Delgado
Savannah Kiddoo (109)
Cora Johnson-Woessner (123)
Jaydan Driskill (136)
In year one of the Central Methodist program, expect a small roster with ten or eleven women on the initial roster. It should expand from that number in the following years. A trio of California natives should lead the team during their initial season. Cora Johnson-Woessner was a sixth-place finisher in California, and while Savannah Kiddoo did not place this year, she was fourth in the state as a junior and has had success at various national-level events. Jaydan Driskill is also battle-tested out of California.
Staff: The Eagles will be led by former Oklahoma City four-time All-American Brieana Delgado. Brieana most recently coached at the high school level in California which could explain the signees from that state in her first recruiting class. Delgado’s time in Oklahoma as an athlete and coach will probably lead her to recruit Oklahoma, along with neighboring Texas. Her first group of wrestlers is expected to include four Missouri natives, a number that should increase as the talent in the state grows.
Delaware Valley Aggies – Doylestown, Pennsylvania (DIII)
Delaware Valley was supposed to start their program in 2019-20, but this has been pushed back to 2020-21. Transition Wrestling does a great job of getting to the bottom of this situation.
East Stroudsburg Warriors – East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (DII)
Interim Coach: Anibal Nieves
Tatyanna Ortiz (109)
Bella Serrano (109/116)
Josseline Campos (130)
Alyssa Marinaccio (170)
Olivia Rondeau (170)
It’s always good to see a wrestling program located smack dab in the middle of one of the hotbeds of wrestling in the entire country, which is Pennsylvania’s District XI. Of course, Pennsylvania is still trying to catch up to the other parts of the country when it comes to girls and women’s wrestling. The state has a proud tradition of wrestling excellence, so don’t be surprised if the area becomes fertile with women’s collegiate prospects in the near future. This first class for the Warriors women’s program consists mainly of talent from surrounding states. Alyssa Marinaccio and Olivia Rondeau are both All-Americans from the state of Maryland that will help lock down the upperweights. Bella Serrano was a state champion in New Jersey’s first official girl’s high school tournament. Josseline Campos is a junior from New York that transfers in from Springfield Technical Community College and an All-American in at the NCWA level in 2017. Tatyanna Ortiz is an in-state product who was the first girl to qualify for the PIAA’s Northeast Regional tournament.
Staff: Initially, it will be Anibal Nieves who leads the East Stroudsburg women’s program. Nieves has an interim tag in his title and is also currently the head coach of the men’s team. He is an ESU alum that made two Olympic teams while wrestling for Puerto Rico. Before moving to East Stroudsburg, Nieves was the head women’s coach at Springfield Technical CC, where he coached Campos. Also aboard as a graduate assistant is Anna Ernst. Anna was an NCWA All-American twice under Nieves at Springfield Technical CC. She also competed in the WCWA nationals for Ottawa University.
Fontbonne Griffins – St. Louis, Missouri (DIII)
Head Coach: Amond Prater
Julia Quan (116)
Expect a small squad in the inaugural year for Amond Prater at Fontbonne. Don’t expect that to be the case going forward though. Missouri had an impressive showing at both age groups in Fargo, so there will be plenty of in-state recruits for Prater to choose from going forward. 2019 also saw Missouri sanction their first girl’s high school state tournament. One of the qualifiers from that tournament, Julia Quan, will attend Fontbonne to wrestle.
Staff: Prater will coach not only the women’s program, but also the men’s team, which is their first year of existence too. Assisting him will be former Big 12 champion for Missouri Marcus Hoehn and Sam Rebentisch, formerly of Lindenwood-Belleville.
Grand View Vikings – Des Moines, Iowa (NAIA)
Head Coach: Angelo Crinzi
Marlene Avila (123)
Isabella Gonzalez (130)
Hunter Robinson (143/155)
Alexis Gomez (155)
Kiya Jones (170)
Similar to the Augsburg program above, you have to be excited about the potential of the Grand View women’s squad. Grand View is located in a state mad about wrestling and an athletic department where the men’s team has won eight straight NAIA national titles. The women’s team at Grand View won’t be viewed as “just another team” by the administration, students, and community. It will be thought of as another avenue for producing successful student-athletes that can compete with anyone in the country.
With that being said, the first class of Viking wrestlers features a handful of women who will win early and often. Illinois-native Alexis Gomez originally signed with Campbellsville, but decided to switch once Grand View’s program was established. Gomez is a Fargo champ and had some success at the Senior level, taking fifth at the US Open and defeating 2019 WCWA national champion Dymond Guilford (Missouri Baptist). Avila, Gonzalez, and Robinson all own at least one Texas state championship. Out of those three, Robinson was ranked in the top-three nationally and was an All-American last summer in Fargo. Though not a state champ, Kiya Jones placed all four years in a Texas, as well.
Staff: Crinzi is a Grand View alum that was part of some of the school’s early national championship teams. Recently, Angelo was the head coach of the men’s and women’s program at Lindenwood-Belleville for the past four seasons. Though his assistant coach has not been announced publicly, it will be someone who was a WCWA All-American and who has head coaching experience at the collegiate level.
Lackawanna Falcons – Scranton, Pennsylvania (NJCAA)
Head Coach: Kate Fox
As we mentioned with East Stroudsburg, it’s always great to get another program in Pennsylvania. At this time, it’s uncertain what to expect immediately from the Lackawanna program. Currently, we do not have any recruits from the Class of 2019 associated with the program. It was announced in July of 2019 that Lackawanna would be adding women’s wrestling, leaving very little time for a first recruiting class for head coach Kate Fox.
Staff: The Falcons first head coach is Kate Fox, who was plenty of local ties after going to high school and college in the area. Though she did not compete herself, Kate has been around her husband, John, the head coach of Lackawanna’s men’s team for the past three seasons and learned through various roles with his teams. Kate’s most recent official coaching title has been softball at the high school level.
Limestone Saints – Gaffney, South Carolina (DII)
Head Coach: Brandy Green
Alex Martinez (101)
Acoya Pate (130)
Amalani Latu (136)
Caitlyn Gilmore (155)
Issa Salgado (170)
Destiny Baltierra (191)
South Carolina has not one but two new programs starting in the 2019-20 season, with Limestone being the first. Coach Brandy Green will lead a group comprised mainly of wrestlers from the South and even into Texas during their first year of action. With few options for women collegiately in the southeast, Limestone will look to battle with Emmanuel and Life for the top athletes in this region. Girl’s wrestling is still in a very young state in this area, so expect the in-state talent to get better over time. Being able to reach into Texas for state qualifiers like Latu and Baltierra is very helpful, as well.
Staff: Green heads up the Limestone program after serving as the Women’s Director and National team coach for South Carolina USA Wrestling. She has also assisted at Lyon College and Ottawa University. Brandy was a two-time National team member and competed in two Junior World tournaments. Green will be assisted by one of the legends of American women’s wrestling Randi Miller. Randi was a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 63 kg and will be an incredible asset to the young Saints program.
Lock Haven Bald Eagles – Lock Haven, Pennsylvania (DII)
Head Coach: Ronnie Perry
Since the program was announced so late in the recruiting season, the first Bald Eagle women’s team will consist mainly of existing students at Lock Haven. Expect for Coach Perry to have a big group of incoming freshmen in 2020-21.
North Central Cardinals – Naperville, Illinois (DIII)
Head Coach: Joe Norton
Asia Nguyen-Smith (130)
Amanda Martinez (130/136)
Malea Palahniuk (155)
Yelena Makoyed (155/170)
While the first team for North Central won’t be massive judging on roster size (only nine women are expected), there is plenty of talent aboard. Makoyed was a California state champion and a top-six finisher at the U23 World Team Trials. Martinez is a Lindenwood-Belleville transfer that earned three wins at WCWA’s. Nguyen-Smith was an All-American in Fargo this summer, while Palahniuk has won a pair of Oregon state titles, in both free and folkstyle. This crew, along with a growing girl’s scene in Illinois, could provide the framework for a promising program for years to come.
Staff: Joe Norton has been the head men’s coach at North Central since the 2014-15 season and will assume the same role for the women’s program going forward. During his time in Naperville, the North Central alum, has sent nine wrestlers to the DIII national tournament and produced one All-American. Assisting Norton with both programs will be Zach Cook and Josh Tardy. The Cardinal program will also get help from new assistant Brittany Marshall, a four-time WCWA All-American and 2018 national champion. In addition to her coaching duties, Marshall will also continue to train for Senior-level competitions.
Presbyterian Blue Hose – Clinton, South Carolina (DI)
Head Coach: Dany DeAnda
Jaslynn Gallegos (109)
Rita Morales (116)
Ainslie Lane (123)
Morgan Norris (130)
Adelyhda Perez (136)
On December 7th, 2017 Presbyterian College announced that they would be added a men’s and women’s wrestling program for the 2019-20 season. They became the first DI school to adopt the sport for both men and women at the same time. I’m sure plenty of DI athletic departments will be monitoring the progress of Presbyterian’s women’s program as they decide whether or not they should provide women’s wrestling at the collegiate level.
Fortunately, there is plenty of talent for Head Coach Dany DeAnda in her first year at the helm for the Blue Hose. Three of the two 25 wrestlers in the high school Class of 2019 have signed with Presbyterian and are expected on the mat in year one. One of that top-three is Ainslie Lane, who was placed at most every age-level event in the nation, in addition to spending most of the offseason training with the University of Wisconsin’s Badger RTC. Jaslynn Gallegos also comes in with a boatload of credentials and is a dangerous pinner. Morgan Norris was a runner-up this year in Fargo and a Cadet World Team member in 2018. These three alone should be able to compete for spots on the podium immediately at women’s nationals.
Staff: DeAnda has an impressive resume with a pair of Junior World medals along with a silver medal at the Senior level at the Pan-American Championships. As a coach, DeAnda has assisted with the University of Jamestown and most recently the University of Providence. A native of Hawaii, Dany should be able to get some of that states top athletes, which she as already done in year one with the signing of state runner-up Rita Morales.
Simpson Redhawks – Redding, California (NAIA)
Head Coach: Fan Zhang
Finally, there is a second collegiate program in the state of California. California has been the leader in girls and women’s wrestling for decades now and until this point, Menlo was the only school that offered women’s wrestling. Needless to say, there will be plenty of talented high schoolers for Coach Zhang to recruit.
Staff: The program at Simpson University will be led by seven-time Chinese national champion Fan Zhang. Fan was previously the head coach for the women’s program at Grays Harbor for the last year. Before Grays Harbor, Zhang was an assistant for the men’s DIII powerhouse Wartburg College in Iowa. While in Iowa he coached the girl’s national team for seven years.
Texas Wesleyan Rams – Fort Worth, Texas (NAIA)
Head Coach: Ray Bedford
Aylen Vivar (101)
Clarissa Archuleta (130)
Before the addition of Texas Wesleyan, only two Texas schools supported women’s wrestling programs. With the amount of talent that Texas churns out every year, that is certainly not enough. Luckily with Texas Wesleyan in the fold, the girls will have another in-state option available. In the Rams first year, they will have the services of a pair of excellent wrestlers from the Lone Star State. Both Aylen Vivar and Clarissa Archuleta were state finalists in 2019 and will help serve as cornerstones for the program going forward.
Staff: The Rams head coach Ray Bedford is another coach that will serve as the head man for both the men’s and women’s program. 2019-20 will be the first year of the women’s program at Texas Wesleyan, as well. Bedford previously coached at the high school level in Texas at Plano Senior High. He was also an instrumental member of the club scene and helped coach the state National Duals and Fargo teams. The familiarity with the local high school talent should prove to be invaluable for Bedford and the Ram program in the future.
UW-Stevens Point Pointers – Stevens Point, Wisconsin (DIII)
Head Coach: Johnny Johnson
Abby Nelson (101)
Alice Todryk (109)
Kiana Pugh-Mosinee (143)
Brooke Thurber (101)
One state that has been producing plenty of high-level women’s competitors over the past few years is Wisconsin. With the addition of UW-Stevens Point, the state now has two (and soon to be three) programs for its girls to choose from. Not only does coach Johnny Johnson expect a strong roster number (14), there are a few Pointer wrestlers that should make an immediate impact nationally. Kiana Pugh-Mosinee was a Cadet World Team member in 2018 and has placed multiple times in Fargo. Junior Brooke Thurber has been on campus for a few years and entered national level events. Nelson was a Fargo All-American three years ago and Todryk has spent most of the year in the top-20 nationally.
Staff: Johnny Johnson is ready to start his 22nd season as head coach for the Pointers men’s program and will also guide the women’s team. Johnson is the school’s winningest head coach and has guided five wrestlers to national championships. Assisting Johnson will be 2017 WCWA national champion Jessika Rottier. Jessika was a finalist in both of her seasons competing in college before injuries cut short her career.