Plainview, Texas -
Wayland Baptist women s wrestlers set to take to the mats for the first time this weekend
The debut of the women's wrestling program at Wayland Baptist is set for Saturday when the Pioneers will take on defending WCWA National Champion Oklahoma City University and last year's runner-up, University of the Cumberlands, in dual matches at OCU's Abe Lemons Arena.
Fifteen women, all but two of which are classified as freshmen, will be donning the brand new blue and gold Wayland singlets. Nine of those will be competing in the team competition, while the remaining six making the trip will be wrestling in exhibition matches.
All 15 of those young women enjoyed great success at the high school level, but the task in front of them in these first two duals is monumental.
"What was I thinking?" said a laughing WBU Head Coach Johnny Cobb. "Seriously, though, you've got to start some place and if you want to be the best, you have to wrestle the best. That is certainly what we'll be doing on Saturday."
Host Oklahoma City is gunning for its third straight WCWA championship and fourth straight NWCA National Duals title with 12 returning All-Americans. Cumberland's roster is also filled with upper classmen with plenty of collegiate experience. Wayland will take on OCU at noon and Cumberlands at 3 pm.
"Our goal for this weekend is to score a few points, get some good experience in, and wrestle to the best of our abilities. We need a little catch-up time to compete with these schools, but we're going to get there.
"All of our young women have high goals and know what they need to do to succeed. Realistically, we know that our chances of winning this first year are slim, but if we can keep the ones that we have on board now together, we have an excellent chance to be extremely successful in the next two to three years."
The two WBU wrestlers with experience at the collegiate level are sophomores Ofelia Valdez, a transfer from the University of Northern Michigan, and Nalley Carrillo, who spent last year at the University of the Cumberlands. Valdez was a three-time All-State honoree, while Carrillo was the 2009 State Runner-up at 102 pounds.
Here is a weight-by-weight look at the WBU women in action this weekend:
48 kg (105 lbs)
Akira Pena - One of five El Paso natives on the roster, Pena earned 2010 All-State honors wrestling at El Dorado High. She was also an All-American. Cobb on Pena: "Akira has tremendous potential, and will most likely move down a weight class before the year is out."
51 kg (112 lbs)
Ofelia Valdez - A graduate of Molina High School in Dallas, she was a four-time All-City Champion and a two-time USWA All-American. Valdez was also a member of Team Texas Wrestling. Cobb on Valdez: "Ofelia is our brightest hope for being successful, and one of the few with collegiate experience. She'll also probably drop down a class before the year is out."
Samantha Gonzales - a two-time state qualifier and Kansas State Champion from Lakin High School in Lakin, KS.
55 kg (121 lbs)
Nalley Carrillo - Like Pena, Carrillo wrestled for Coach Alfredo Flores at El Paso's El Dorado High. She was the 2009 State Runner-up, earned All-State honors two other times, and was a National All-American. Cobb on Carrillo: "I am excited about the possibilities that Nalley brings to our team. She is another one with college experience and she may also drop down before the end of the year."
Anna Almanza - Almanza won three state team championships at Amarillo's Caprock High. She was a 2010 State Finalist at 119, a 2009 State Finalist at 128 and was All-State at 119 in 2008.
59 kg (130 lbs)
Jeneshia Woods - A former wrestler for Cobb at Tascosa High in Amarillo, Woods is a two-time state qualifier who earned All-State honors in 2010 and was a District and Regional Champion. Cobb on Woods: "Jeneshia's talent and potential is unlimited. She just needs to get the experience of wrestling the best."
Bethany Courkamp - A transfer from Missouri Valley College, Courkamp attended Amarillo High School where she came in fourth in 2006 as a 102-pounder and fifth in the 2007 state wrestling tournament in the 110 pound class.
63 kg (138 lbs)
Andrianna Rivas - A graduate of Terry High School in Rosenberg, Tex., Rivas was a District Runner-up and an All-American at the National Folkstyle Championships. Cobb on Rivas: "Andrianna has a strong work ethic and just needs experience in order to start to move forward toward the next level."
China Saucedo - Saucedo went undefeated during her senior year at Hereford (TX) High School until the championship match at the 2010 State Tournament. She had a 55-2 record during her final two years of high school wrestling, earning third place honors at the 2009 State Tourney.
67 kg (147 lbs)
Tarah Brewer - One of two wrestlers on Cobb's team from Clear Creek High School, Brewer was a two-time state qualifier and earned All-State honors in the 138 pound class as a senior. Cobb on Brewer: "Tarah is coming in with limited experience in freestyle wrestling, but she is picking up the techniques quickly and will make a statement before the year is over."
Jessica Hernandez -- A graduate of Eisenhower High School in Lawton, Okla., Hernandez was a high school All-American in the 135-pound class, and won state championships in four different states at the club level.
72 kg (158 lbs)
Loraine Herrera -- A four-time state qualifier from El Paso's Andress High School, Herrera was the 2009 State Runner-up. Cobb on Herrera: "I'm excited about Loraine. Watching her in practice these past several weeks, I have high expectations for her. I truly believe that before the year is out, everyone will know who she is."
Kirsten Iruegus -- Another product of Hereford High School, Iruegus is a member of the Hereford Hall of Fame. She was a two-time All-State honoree with a 2007 third place finish and a 2008 fifth place finish. Although Iruegus is scheduled to wrestle in an exhibition match, she is eligible to compete in the team competition and could move into one of those matches after weigh-in, according to Cobb.
80 kg (176 lbs)
Chelsie McMillion -- The other Clear Creek High graduate with limited freestyle experience, McMillion is a two-time All-State honoree. A native of Beaumont, Tex., she placed fourth in the 138 pound class in 2009 and finished fifth in 2010 at 148 pounds. Cobb on McMillion: "Chelsie hasn't had a lot of freestyle experience, but she is picking up the technique as quickly as anyone can. She has the potential to compete at the national level some day."
90 kg (198 lbs)
Gloria Guerra -- A two-time state qualifier and an All-State honoree, Guerra wrestled as a member of El Paso Bel Aire High School's varsity team for four years. Cobb on Guerra: "Gloria is another El Paso area product with something to show. She should be down a weight class before the year is over, but will do well at this level too."