2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials preview for 58 kg in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | March 28, 2016, 8:23 a.m. (ET)
Alli Ragan, shown at the 2015 World Championships, made three straight World teams and seeks her first Olympic berth. Photo by John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com

Competition Day: Saturday, April 9

Is Weight Class Qualified Yet for Olympic Games: No

The 58 kg weight class has four past World or Olympic Team members, as well as some fantastic young challengers. Ruling this weight class for the last three years by making the U.S. World Team each year has been Alli Ragan of the New York AC. Ragan’s best performance at Worlds was fifth place in 2014, losing a very close bronze-medal match.

Ragan won two Junior World bronze medals for Team USA, and was a two-time WCWA college national champion for King University. After graduation, she went straight to the U.S. Olympic Training Center to focus on her Olympic quest. She has beaten many top international opponents, winning silver medals at the UWW Golden Grand Prix Finals in Azerbaijan the last two years.

Ragan represented the USA at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Frisco, Texas, placing fifth and falling short of qualifying the nation for the Rio Olympics. That means the USA must still go to the World Qualifier in Mongolia in late April (and if necessary in Turkey in May) to get the weight class qualified. The Olympic Trials champion is expected to head to Mongolia to compete and seek Olympic qualification.

The 2015 World bronze medalist at 60 kg is the amazing Leigh Jaynes-Provisor, who is moving down to 60 kg to make her Olympic run. Jaynes-Provisor came down in weight for a Special Wrestle-off for the Pan American Olympic Qualifier, but lost to Ragan. She has been on three U.S. Senior World Teams, has won the U.S. Open, and has won a number of medals overseas. At 34, she is the veteran in this field, and is considered very smart and crafty on the mat. She is married to 2012 Olympian Ben Provisor and they have a baby daughter.

The two other past USA team members are 2012 Olympian Kelsey Campbell of the Sunkist Kids and 2014 World Team member Jenna Burkert of the New York AC. In addition to competing in the Olympics, Campbell was fifth in the 2010 World Championships and also wrestled in the 2011 World Championships. She placed second behind Ragan at the 2015 World Team Trials. Campbell beat Helen Maroulis in the 2012 Olympic Trials finals at 55 kg in 2012 in Iowa City, and is looking for another strong effort in the Trials again this year.

Burkert has competed at 60 kg in the past, including the year when she made the World Team. She was on three U.S. Junior World Teams and competed in the first Youth Olympic Games back in 2010. She has had some ups and downs in the last two seasons, but can not be overlooked in this deep weight class.

It is hard to overlook a group of young talents who will not be afraid of the veteran stars in this weight class.

The 2016 U.S. Open was 18-year-old high school senior Teshya Alo of the Titan Mercury WC, one of the top young stars on the national scene. Alo defeated Campbell in the U.S. Open finals in Las Vegas, a big win over one of the top Senior stars in our country. Alo proved she could compete at this level at the 2015 World Team Trials, when she placed third in two different weight classes, 58 kg and 60 kg. Alo boasts a 2014 Cadet World gold medal and a 2013 Cadet World bronze medal. She was named ASICS Girls High School Wrestler of the Year in 2015, after her junior year in high school. Her talent and confidence is sky high, and will be a big factor in Iowa City.

Another top young star is two-time WCWA college national champion Kayla Miracle of the Sunkist Kids, who competes for Campbellsville Univ. Miracle has won World medals on the Cadet and Junior levels, and has already been very successful on the Senior level. Miracle has won gold medals at the 2016 Dave Schultz Memorial International and the 2014 Bill Farrell International and is fresh off a win at the University Nationals.

Two other college freshmen are already top Senior-level stars, Becka Leathers of the Titan Mercury WC and Maya Nelson of the Sunkist Kids. Nelson was third at the 2016 U.S. Open and Leathers placed seventh, both qualifying for Iowa City with those efforts. Leathers won a bronze medal at the 2015 Junior World Championships and won a gold medal at the 2016 WCWA Women’s College Nationals for Oklahoma City Univ. Nelson could not compete at the WCWA Nationals for the Univ. of the Cumberlands due to injury.

Two other athletes who advance to Iowa City with placements at the U.S. Open were fourth place Randi Beltz of the Titan Mercury WC and sixth place Arian Carpio of the Sunkist Kids. Beltz qualified for the Women’s National Team last year, and has been a placewinner at the U.S. Open five times, with a top finish of third place in 2015. Carpio was successful on the age-group level, and currently wrestles for Arizona State.

There were five more college wrestlers who qualified for Iowa City based upon their finish at the WCWA Nationals in Oklahoma City in February. Winning the WCWA Nationals at 130 pounds was Oklahoma City’s Natalia Hinojo. WCWA runners-up Megan Black of McKendree at 123 pounds also has advanced. The other three qualifiers from the event were Dominique Parris of Simon Fraser, Shelby Hall of Campbellsville and Rosemary Flores of Campbellsville. All have been successful moving through the USA Wrestling age-group programs. Joining the field at the University Nationals was 55 kg champion Tarkiya Mensah of Wayland Baptist University, who boasts two straight University titles.

This should be a real battle in Iowa City, starting from the early matches, as this interesting mix of experienced stars and young talents should have a top competitor emerge as champion.

U.S. Olympic Team Trials Qualifiers, as of March 28

Women's Freestyle - 58 kg/128 lbs.

’15 World Team member – Alli Ragan, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’15 World Team member – Leigh Jaynes-Provisor, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
Past World or Olympic Team member – Kelsey Campbell, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids)
Past World or Olympic Team member – Jenna Burkert, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
’15 Bill Farrell International bronze medalist – Kayla Miracle, Campbellsville, Ky. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Teshya Alo, Honolulu, Hawaii (Titan Mercury WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier third place – Maya Nelson, Denver, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Randi Beltz, Chesterfield, Mo. (Titan Mercury WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Arian Carpio, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Becka Leathers, Choctaw, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
WCWA Nationals silver medalist at 123 - Megan Black, Batavia, Iowa (McKendree)
WCWA Nationals bronze medalist at 123 - Dominique Parrish, Scotts Valley, Calif. (Simon Fraser)
WCWA Nationals gold medalist at 130 - Natalia Hinojo, El Paso, Texas (Oklahoma City)
WCWA Nationals bronze medalist at 130 - Shelby Hall, Doylestown, Ohio (Campbellsville)
WCWA Nationals fourth at 130 - Rosemary Flores, Staten Island, N.Y. (Campbellsville)
’16 University Nationals champion at 55 kg - Tarkiya Mensah (Katy, Texas/Wayland Baptist)
International tour medalist within one year -
’16 Final Olympic Trials Qualifier champion –