Four U.S. women going for bronze medals at UWW Junior Worlds in Brazil

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 14, 2015, 12:51 p.m. (ET)
Cody Pfau of the USA controls Dominika Szynkowska of Poland with a front headlock on the way to a 3-2 win in the first round at 48 kg.

SALVADOR, Brazil –All four U.S. women who wrestled Friday’s competition at the UWW Junior World Championships will go for bronze medals on Friday night.

Those in the bronze medal round include Cody Pfau (Brush, Colo./Gator OKCU RTC) at 48 kg/105.5 lbs., Becka Leathers (Choctaw, Okla./Gator OKCU RTC) at 55 kg/121 lbs., Mallory Velte (Sacramento, Calif./Simon Fraser) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Rachel Watters, Ankeny, Iowa (Gator OKCU RTC) at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

“The second group really wrestled well. They wrestled hard. They were scrapping. They are wrestling six full minutes. Because of that, we have four girls wrestling for bronze tonight,” said U.S. coach Archie Randall.

Pfau, Leathers and Watters all lost semifinal matches to opponents from Japan, while Velte fell to the returning World champion from Russia, who pulled her back into the tournament by making the finals

Pfau, a three-time UWW Junior World Team member had a tough opener against 2015 European Junior bronze medalist Dominika Szynkowska of Poland, winning 3-2. Each wrestler scored two points in the first period. Pfau’s winning score was a pushout early in the second period.

Pfau also won a close quarterfinal over Ganbar Otgonjakgal of Mongolia, 8-7. With the score tied 6-6, Pfau took Otonjakgal over for a two-point exposure from an upperbody scramble. The Mongolian had a late pushout, but could not close the gap. Pfau was pinned by 2014 Cadet World champion Migo Igarashi of Japan in the second period.

Pfau has drawn 2013 Junior World bronze medalist Milena Dadasheva of Russia in her bronze-medal bout. Dadasheva pinned Pfau in the opening round at the 2014 Junior World Championships.

Pfau, who was a WCWA college national champion for Oklahoma City, was fifth at the 2013 Junior World Championships.

Leathers, a 2014 UWW Junior World Team member, was dominant in her first two bouts. Leathers opened with a 10-0 technical fall over Janika Vakkila of Finland, who was fifth in the 2013 Cadet Worlds. Leathers scored five counter takedowns, three in the first period and two in the second period for the win.

In the quarterfinals, Leathers fell behind 0-4 to Nade Dragunova of Belarus, but powered back with 13 unanswered points for a 13-4 victory. In the semifinals, she was defeated by 2014 Junior World bronze medalist Nanami Irie of Japan, who got three takedowns for a 6-0 win over Leathers.

Leathers will face 2015 European Junior champion Patrizia Liuzzi of Italy in the bronze-medal bout.

Leathers will begin her career at Oklahoma City in the fall, Leathers was eighth in the Junior World Championships last year, and was seventh in the 2013 UWW Cadet World Championships.

Watters, a high school star from Iowa, opened with a pin over two-time Asian Junior silver medalist Pooja of India. Trailing 2-0 on two pushouts, Watters nailed a nice hiptoss, taking Pooja to her back and getting the first period fall. In the semifinals, Watters was defeated by 2013 Junior World champion Rino Abe of Japan by technical fall, 1-13.

Watters has drawn Iselin Maria Moen of Norway in the bronze-medal bout.

In addition to making the UWW Junior World team this year, Watters was also a Junior Nationals champion in Fargo in July.

Velte, who competes in college for Simon Fraser University up in Canada, drew 2014 Junior World champion Lyubov Ovcharova of Russia in her opener in the quarterfinals. Velte pushed Ovcharova hard the entire match, scoring on a number of exchanges, but fell by a 7-10 score.

In the semifinals, Ovcharova pinned Braxton Stone-Papadopoulos of Canada, pulling Velte back into the tournament. Since Ovcharova only had two matches, Velte moves into the bronze-medal bout against Stone-Papadopoulos, who was a Junior World silver medalist in 2013.

The championship finals, including gold and bronze bouts, will be at 6:00 p.m. in Brazil, which is 5:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern time. The matches will be streamed live on the UWW website at

At Salvador, Brazil

U.S. Women’s performances on Friday

48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Cody Pfau, Brush, Colo. (Gator OKCU RTC)
WIN Dominika Szynkowska (Poland), 3-2
WIN Ganbar Otgonjakgal (Mongolia), 8-7
LOSS Migo Igarashi (Japan), pin 3:29
Bronze medal bout – Vs. Milena Dadasheva (Russia)

55 kg/121 lbs. – Becka Leathers, Choctaw, Okla. (Gator OKCU RTC)
WIN Janika Vakkila (Finland), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Nade Dragunova (Belarus), 13-4
LOSS Nanami Irie (Japan), 0-6
Bronze medal bout – Vs. Patrizia Liuzzi (Italy)

63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Mallory Velte, Sacramento, Calif. (Simon Fraser)
LOSS Lyubov Ovcharova (Russia), 7-10
Bronze-medal bout - Vs. Braxton Stone-Papadopoulos (Canada)

72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Rachel Watters, Ankeny, Iowa (Gator OKCU RTC)
WIN Pooja (India), pin 2:14
LOSS Rino Abe (Japan), tech fall 1-13
Bronze-medal bout – Vs. Iselin Maria Moen (Norway)