USA Wrestling Junior Women’s Natio...

Junior Women’s Nationals field loaded with nine returning champs and many World Team members

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | July 20, 2015, 10:12 p.m. (ET)

UWW Junior World Team member Becka Leathers of Oklahoma on the way to an opening session victory at 125 pounds at the Women’s Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. Photo by Austin Bernard.

FARGO, N.D. – The Junior women’s division set a record with 303 entries this year, headlined by nine returning champions. After the first session of competition, all nine of the 2014 Junior Nationals champions are unbeaten, with all of their wins by either pin or technical fall.

However, this loaded field also included numerous other stars, including members of the UWW Junior World Team and the UWW Cadet World Team, plus Saturday’s Cadet Nationals champions, making some very challenging weight classes.

At 112 pounds, Marizza Birrueta of Washington returns to defend her title, while Ronna Heaton of South Dakota, the 105-pound champion last year, has moved up. Heaton was beaten in the Cadet finals on Saturday.

Washington’s Desiree Zavala returns to defend her national title at 139, while 2014 Cadet World champion Teshya Alo, who was Junior Nationals champion at 130 pounds, moves up to challenge her. Alo placed third in the U.S. Senior World Team Trials at two different weight classes this year, an amazing achievement for a high school junior. Also in this weight is Koral Sugiyama of Idaho, who was sixth at the U.S. Senior Open this year.

Another interesting weight class is 125 pounds, where returning Junior Nationals champion Gabrielle Garcia of California has moved up to this weight, along with 2015 UWW Junior Nationals champion Becka Leathers of Oklahoma. Also in the field is UWW Cadet World Team member Alexandria Liles of Texas.

Other 2014 Junior National champions who remain without a loss are Dominique Parrish of California (117), Maya Nelson of Colorado (130), Kendall Reusing of California (172) and Taylor Rosario of Texas (198).

2014 Junior National women’s runners-up who are without a loss include Harmonie Roberts of California (105), Alexis Bleau of New York (148) and Rachel Bridges of Texas (198). Bleau is also a member of the 2015 UWW Cadet World Team.

Three UWW Junior World Team members are in the mix, Birrueta, Leathers and Rachel Watters of Iowa (159).

The 2015 UWW Cadet World Team athletes competing include Liles, Bleau, Heaton plus Vayle Rae Baker of Pennsylvania (97), McKayla Campbell of Ohio (97), Gracie Figueroa of California (117), Ashlynn Ortega of Colorado (139) and Kayla Marano of Oklahoma (148). Baker, Campbell, Figueroa and Ortega were also Cadet Nationals champions on Saturday.

The Junior Women’s Nationals will be completed on Tuesday, with competition throughout the day, and the championship finals set for 5:45 p.m., following the Junior Greco-Roman Nationals finals.