USA Wrestling Nelson qualifies for...

Nelson qualifies for bronze medal match at Junior World Championships in women's freestyle

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Sept. 02, 2016, 9:43 a.m. (ET)

 Maya Nelson at the 2016 Junior World Championships in France.
Photo: Justin Hoch,
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MACON, France – U.S. standout Maya Nelson has advanced to the 63 kg/138.75 lbs. bronze medal match on the second day of women’s freestyle completion at the 2016 Junior World Championships.

Nelson posted a 2-1 record in the morning session on Friday with wins dominating over 2016 Junior Asian bronze medalist Zarina Dauletkeldi of Kazakhstan and 2016 Yasar Dogu bronze medalist Asli Tugcu of Turkey to give herself a chance at bronze.

Her lone loss came in the quarterfinals to three-time Junior Asian champion Ayana Gempei of Japan, 8-3. Nelson trailed 4-3 late in the match before giving up two takedowns while in desperation mode.

“Maya has come such a long way,” said U.S. women’s freestyle coach Erin Vandiver. “She was focused. She’s fought hard through some tough battles, and has wrestled so well, just maintained position, has had a good game plan coming in and fought every second in every match.”

Nelson will face 2015 Junior World bronze medalist Maria Kuznetzova of Russia in the bronze medal match. Kuznetzova was a bronze medalist at the Junior European Championships this year and finished in fifth place at the Russia Nationals.

2015 Cadet World champion Ronna Heaton opened with a gritty 8-4 win over 2013 Cadet World silver medalist Laura Charashvili of Belarus at 55 kg/121 lbs. In the quarterfinals, Heaton fell victim to a leg lace against Asian champion Tinglin Pan of China to lose 10-0.

“I put myself in a bad position and now I have to go back and learn from that,” Heaton said. “A lot of these girls have been wrestling, and they have more experience…they’re mature, so you can learn a lot from that and go from there to Cadets, I feel more confident even going into that.”

Rachel Watters went 1-1 at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in her second trip to the Junior World Championships. Watters downed hometown favorite Pauline Lecarpentier of France, 5-0, before falling to 2016 Junior European bronze medalist Yauheniya Andreichykava of Belarus, 10-0. Watters finished in fifth place at last year’s Junior Worlds.

“I felt a lot better this year than I did in Brazil last year,” Watters said. “I definitely have places to improve, especially in the hand fight, but I think it was a better tournament for me overall, and I’m excited to hopefully come back next year.”

At 48 kg/105.5 lbs. young American McKayla Campbell lost a tough 6-4 bout to 2015 Cadet World bronze medalist Marina Zakshevskaya of Kazakhstan. Campbell finished in fifth place at the Cadet World Championships last year.

“I just got caught in a fireman’s, so I had to fight back from that. I just didn’t finish my shot all the way. The time ran out. I felt like I could have beat her a lot easier, but she just kept holding on to that two-on-one,” said Campbell.

The women’s freestyle medal matches at 48 kg, 55 kg, 63 kg and 72 kg will be wrestled at 12 p.m. (ET) today.

Flowrestling is providing a live stream of the Junior World Championships at Viewers must purchase a FloPro membership to watch the competition live. 

For complete brackets and match-by-match results visit

Aug. 30 – Sept. 4 in Macon, France

Finals Matchups
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Gold – Miho Igarashi (Japan) vs. Nadezhda Sokolova (Russia)
Bronze – Ya Xie (China) vs. Miglena Selishka (Bulgaria)
Bronze – Jade Dufour (Canada) vs. Evelin Sosa (Argentina)

55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold – Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan) vs. Mayu Mukaida (Japan)
Bronze – Debora Lawnitzak (Germany) vs. Ramona Galambos (Hungary)
Bronze – Tinglin Pan (China) vs. Olena Kremzer (Ukraine)

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold – Nade Dragunova (Belarus) vs. Ayana Gempei (Japan)
Bronze – Hongli Yan (China) vs. Devi Pooja (India)
Bronze – Maria Kuznetzova (Russia) vs. Maya Nelson (United States)

72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Gold – Masako Furuichi (Japan) vs. Daria Shisterova (Russia)
Bronze – Chuchu Yan (China) vs. Anastasiia Shustova (Ukraine)
Bronze – Gracelynn Doogan (Canada) vs. Yauheniya Andreichykava (Belarus)

U.S. women’s freestyle results
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – McKayla Campbell, Wauseon, Ohio (Ohio National Team)
LOSS Marina Zakshevskaya (Kazakhstan), 6-4

55 kg/121 lbs. – Ronna Heaton, Brookings, S.D. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Laura Charashvili (Belarus), 8-4
LOSS Tinglin Pan (China), 10-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Maya Nelson, Denver, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Zarina Dauletkeldi (Kazakhstan), 10-0
LOSS Ayana Gempei (Japan), 8-3
WIN Asli Tugcu (Turkey), 11-3

72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Rachel Watters, Ankeny, Iowa (Gator OKCU RTC)
WIN Pauline Lecarpentier (France), 5-0
LOSS Yauheniya Andreichykava (Belarus), 10-0