USA Wrestling Maya Nelson becomes ...

Maya Nelson becomes first American woman to win Junior World championship since 2010

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Aug. 04, 2017, 1:31 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Maya Nelson wins the 2017 Junior World title at 63 kg/139 lbs. Photo by Richard Immel.

VIDEO: Junior World Championships interviews

TAMPERE, Finland – Maya Nelson became the first Junior women’s World champion for the United States since 2010, defeating Yuliana Yaneva for gold on Friday night at the Junior World Championships in Tampere, Finland.

“I am elated,” the newly crowned World champ Nelson said. “I am so happy right now. First and foremost, all the glory goes to God. Without Him and without my faith, I would not be here.”

Nelson (Denver, Colo./Sunkist Kids WC) took on Bulgaria’s Yaneva in the 63 kg/139 lbs. finals, a match the American controlled from start to finish.

Early in the match, Nelson scored on a leg attack takedown and carried a 2-0 lead into the break.

With her constant pressure on the Bulgarian, Nelson was able to score on a reshot near the edge of the mat, executing a double to put Yaneva to her back for four points.

The American stayed solid in the final minute of the match to win her first World title with a decisive 6-0 win.

“Once I got my hands on her and I snapped her down the first time, I was like, ‘I got this,’” Nelson said. “I moved her around and I got my offense off so that was exciting for me. Erin (Vandiver) was just yelling, ‘Take your shot. Take your double. Blast through her.’ I just went for that double and she was right.”

The last woman to win World gold for the Red, White and Blue was Victoria Anthony at 48 kg/106 lbs. in the 2010 Junior Worlds in Budapest, Hungary.  The last time the U.S. had a finalist was Erin Golston at 44 kg/96 lbs. at the 2013 Junior Worlds in Sophia, Bulgaria.

Nelson’s road to the finals was dominant as she teched 2017 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Ying Zhang of China, before taking out 2017 Pan American Champion Nicole Depa of Canada with a second-period pin.

In the semis, she controlled Maria Kuznetsova of Russia in a 4-0 win. It was the second time the two have met up at the Junior World Championships with Nelson taking a 9-4 win in the 2016 bronze-medal match.

McKayla Campbell, Ronna Heaton and Rachel Watters also represented the USA on Friday but were unable to qualify for the medal rounds.

2015 Cadet World champion and 2016 Cadet World silver medalist Heaton and three-time Junior World Team member Watters each went 1-1, while Campbell went 0-1 in her second Junior Worlds.

The U.S. finished fifth as a team overall, collecting a gold medal from Nelson and a bronze medal from Asia Ray at 44 kg/88 lbs.

The Junior World Championships continue tomorrow with the first day of Greco-Roman wrestling as Cevion Severado, Taylor LaMont, Kamal Bey and G’Angelo Hancock take to the mat.

The first session, which includes preliminary rounds through semifinals and repechage, will begin at 10 a.m. local time. The medal matches will take place at 6 p.m. local time.

Tampere, Finland is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time, meaning those wishing to watch live can tune in at 3 a.m. (ET). A live stream of the event, as well as brackets, can be found at

Aug. 1-6, 2017

Team scores
1. Japan 63
2. Russia 44
3. China 41
4. Ukraine 32
5. United States 29
6. India 20
7. Kyrgyzstan 18
8. Cuba 18
9. Azerbaijan 17
10. Bulgaria 17

Finals matchups
48 kg/106 lbs.
Gold –
Kika Kagata (Japan)
Silver -  
Turkan Nasirova (Azerbaijan)
Bronze -
Oksana Livach (Ukraine)
Bronze – Zeynep Yetgil (Turkey)
5th - Sarra Hamdi (Tunisia)
5th - Lady Moran Valenzuela (Ecuador)
7th – Marina Zakshevska (Kazakhstan)
8th – Ellen Riesterer (Germany)
9th – Ankush (India)
10th – Agata Walerzak (Poland)

Gold – Kika Kagata (Japan) fall Turkan Nasirova (Azerbaijan), 3:50
Bronze –
Oksana Livach (Ukraine) dec. Lady Moran Valenzuela (Ecuador), 1:46
Bronze –
Zeynep Yetgil (Turkey) dec. Sarra Hamdi (Tunisia), 8-6

55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold - Gold –
Sae Nanjo (Japan)
Silver - Lianna De Montero Herrera (Cuba)

Bronze –
Leyla Gurbanova (Azerbaijan)
Bronze – Viktoriia Vaulina (Russia)
5th -  Jing Liang (China)
5th - Olena Kremzer (Ukraine)
7th – Pooja Gehlot (India)
8th – Jenna Sihtola (Finland)
9th – Hannah Taylor (Canada)
10th – Elif Yanik (Turkey)

Gold – Sae Nanjo (Japan) dec. Lianna De Montero Herrera (Cuba), 6-4
Bronze –
Leyla Gurbanova (Azerbaijan) fall Olena Kremzer (Ukraine), 0:39
Bronze –
Viktoriia Vaulina (Russia) fall Jing Liang (China), 4:25

63 kg/139 lbs.
Gold – Maya Nelson (USA)
Silver -
Yuliana Yaneva (Bulgaria)
Bronze –
Ying Zhang (China)
Bronze – Aleksandra Wolczynska (Poland)
5th - Aina Temirtassova (Kazakhstan)
5th - Mariia Kuznetsova (Russia)
7th – Olivia Henningsson (Sweden)
8th – Nicole Depa (Canada)
9th – Yukako Kawai (Japan)
10th – Elena Esposito (Italy)

Gold – Maya Nelson (USA) dec. Yuliana Yaneva (Bulgaria), 6-0
Bronze –
Ying Zhang (China) dec. Mariia Kuznetsova (Russia), 10-4
Bronze –
Aleksandra Wolczynska (Poland) fall Aina Temirtassova (Kazakhstan), 2:38

72 kg/159 lbs.
Gold –
Aiperi Medet Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan)
Silver - Yasuha Matsuyuki (Japan)

Bronze –
Denise Sab Makota Stroem (Sweden)
Bronze – Hui Tsz Chang (Taipei)
5th - Dejah Anie Slater (Canada)
5th - Kristina Shumova (Russia)
7th – Pooja (India)
8th – Greta Ceponyte (Lithuania)
9th – Anastasiya Zimiankova (Belarus)
10th – Rachel Watters (USA)

Gold – Aiperi Medet Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Yasuha Matsuyuki (Japan), 8-6
Bronze –
Denise Sab Makota Stroem (Sweden) dec. Kristina Shumova (Russia), 4-1
Bronze –
Hui Tsz Chang (Taipei) dec. Dejah Anie Slater (Canada), 5-5

U.S. women’s freestyle results
48 kg/106 lbs. – McKayla Campbell (Wauseon, Ohio/Ohio National Team), 13th
LOSS Ankush Ankush (India), 12-2

55 kg/121 lbs. – Ronna Heaton (Brookings, S.D./Sunkist Kids WC), 11th
WIN Anastasiya Korzh (New Zealand), 10-0
LOSS Viktoriya Vaulina (Russia), 12-2

63 kg/139 lbs. – Maya Nelson (Denver, Colo./Sunkist Kids WC) - gold
WIN Ying Zhang (China), 12-1
WIN Nicole Depa (Canada), fall 3:56
WIN Maria Kuznetsova (Russia), 4-0
WIN Yuliana Yaneva (Bulgaria), 6-0

72 kg/159 lbs. – Rachel Watters (Ankeny, Iowa/Aires WC), 10th
WIN Natalia Strzalka (Poland), 3-2
LOSS Hui-Tsu Chang (Taipei), 4-2