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U.S. Junior Women bring experience and youth into Junior Worlds in Finland, Aug. 3-4

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | July 27, 2017, 2:25 p.m. (ET)

USA’s Junior Women’s Freestyle World Team, led by a few veterans, heads to the Junior World Championships in Tampere, Finland, Aug. 1-6.

The lone returning Junior World medalist Maya Nelson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids WC) leads the young, talented USA squad. At the 2016 Junior World Championships in Macon, France, Nelson finished with a bronze medal, going 3-1 at the tournament.

She recently made the Senior Women’s National Team, taking third at the World Team Trials in Las Vegas in April and has a runner-up finish at U.S. Senior Nationals as well as an international silver medal from the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International. Nelson will compete at 63 kg/138 lbs. in her second Junior Worlds.

There are two other returning 2016 Junior World Team members: Rachel Watters (Ankeny, Iowa/Aries WC), who will wrestle at 72 kg/159 lbs., and McKayla Campbell (Waseon, Ohio/Ohio National Team), who will compete at 48 kg/106 lbs.

Watters enters her third Junior World Championships. In her previous two outings, she posted top-10 finishes, taking fifth in 2015 in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and ninth in 2016.

Active on the Senior level lately, Watters owns a 2016 Bill Farrell International silver medal. She also competed at Senior World Team Trials in April, where she was just one win shy of making the Senior National Team at 69 kg/152 lbs. in April.

Campbell is now a three-time age-group World Team member, traveling to the 2015 Cadet World Championships in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the 2016 Junior World Championships. In 2015, she finished fifth in the world at 43 kg.

The team features a 2015 Cadet World champion in Ronna Heaton (Brookings, S.D./Sunkist Kids WC), who will compete in her fourth World Championships this summer. Last year, she donned the Red, White and Blue for both the Cadet and Junior World Championships.

Although she finished second at last year’s Junior Trials, Heaton filled in for a sick Becka Leathers at 55 kg/121 lbs. in the 2016 Junior World Championships, where she finished 11th. Just weeks later, she competed at the Cadet World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, where she earned her second World medal, a silver. 

Youngster Gracie Figueroa (Selma, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) will take on the world this summer as a Cadet and a Junior. She wrestled back-to-back days at the UWW Women’s National Championships in Irving, Texas, beating Michaela Beck for the Cadet spot and Nicole Joseph for Juniors. It will be her first Junior World tournament.

A four-time age-group World Team member, Figueroa won her first World medal last summer at Cadet Worlds, walking away with bronze.

Cameron Guerin (Yakima, Wash./Team Takedown) will be the U.S. representative at 51 kg/112 lbs. Still Cadet eligible, she won gold at the Cadet Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in late-July.

Like Figueroa, Guerin looked to make both the Cadet and Junior teams, but fell short in the Cadet finals. Finland will mark her first World outing.

Also heading to their first World Championships are Asia Ray (Arlington, Texas/Arlington Storm WC) at 44 kg/88 lbs. and Alexandria Glaude (West Sacramento, Calif./McKendree Bearcat WC) at 67 kg/147 lbs.

Team USA looks to improve on its 2016 performance, which produced three bronze medals and a sixth-place team finish.

The women’s freestyle portion of the Junior World Championships will take place Aug. 3-4 at the Tampere Exhibition and Sport Center.

Up first for the U.S. are Ray (44 kg), Guerin (51 kg), Figueroa (59 kg) and Glaude (67 kg) on Thursday, Aug. 3, followed by Campbell (48 kg), Heaton (55 kg), Nelson (63 kg) and Watters (72 kg) on Friday, Aug. 4.

The preliminary rounds begin at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) both days, with the medal matches beginning at 6:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. ET) on Monday and 6 p.m. (11 a.m. ET) on Tuesday.

Fans can find live streams and brackets on Trackwrestling.com.

2017 UWW JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Tampere, Finland, Aug. 1-6

Schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 1
Freestyle – 55 kg, 66 kg, 84 kg, 120 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Opening ceremonies
6:30 p.m. – Medal matches

Wednesday, Aug. 2
Freestyle – 50 kg, 61 kg, 74 kg, 96 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Thursday, Aug. 3
Women’s freestyle – 44 kg, 51 kg, 59 kg, 67 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Friday, Aug. 4
Women’s freestyle – 48 kg, 55 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Saturday, Aug. 5
Greco-Roman – 50 kg, 60 kg, 74 kg, 96 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Sunday, Aug. 6
Greco-Roman – 55 kg, 66 kg, 84 kg, 120 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

U.S. Junior Women’s freestyle roster
44 kg/88 lbs. – Asia Ray, Arlington, Texas (Arlington Storm WC)
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – McKayla Campbell, Waseon, Ohio (Ohio National Team)
51 kg/112 lbs. – Cameron Guerin, Yakima,Wash. (Team Takedown)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Ronna Heaton, Brookings, S.D. (Sunkist Kids WC)
59 kg/130 lbs. – Gracie Figueroa, Selma, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
63 kg/139 lbs. – Maya Nelson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids WC)
67 kg/147 lbs. – Alexandria Glaude, West Sacramento, Calif. (McKendree Bearcat WC)
72 kg/159 lbs. – Rachel Watters, Ankeny, Iowa (Aries WC)

U.S. Women’s Freestyle National Assistant Coach: Erin Vandiver, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Coach: Brent Barnes, Lake Stevens, Wash.
Coach: Matt Stevens, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Referee: Casey Goessl, Osceola, Wisc.
Referee: Umberto Fasolino, Cutchogue, N.Y.
Referee: Sam Julian,
Schuylkill Haven, PA

Medical: Dave Grossman
Medical: Dr. Jeremy Frank, Parkland, Fla.