U.S. to send strong women's freestyle U23 roster to Poland

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Nov. 14, 2017, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Eight of the United States’ most gifted young in women’s freestyle wrestlers head to Bydgoszcz, Poland, next week for the U23 World Championships, Nov. 21-26.

It will be the first UWW U23 World Championships, which features 18-23-year-old athletes in the three Olympic disciplines.

Heading the squad is 2017 Junior World champion Maya Nelson (Denver, Colo./Sunkist Kids), who will compete in her second World Championships of the year.

A resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nelson has quickly become one to beat nationally with a 2017 U.S. Open title, 2016 University Nationals title and a spot on the 2017 U.S. Senior National Team.

Internationally, she has an immense amount of experience and success, dating back to her 2014 Cadet Pan American championship.

This summer at Junior Worlds in Tampere, Finland, Nelson became the first women’s Junior World champion for the U.S. since 2010. Just a year before, she won bronze at the event, which was held in Macon, France.

Next week, Nelson will wrestle for the USA at 63 kg/130 lbs.

In Poland, Nelson will be joined by fellow Junior World bronze medalist Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville, Ky./Sunkist Kids), who is also on the U.S. Senior National Team, finishing second at the World Team Trials. Miracle won Junior World bronzes in 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia, and in 2016 in France.

Miracle, the 60 kg/132-pound representative, has been busy lately, competing collegiately for Campbellsville, participating in the Beat the Streets LA USA vs. Japan dual, winning the 20th Dave Schultz Memorial International and claiming victory in her bout at the NWCA All-Star Classic.  

Her 2017 year has been successful thus far as she won the U.S. Open, University Nationals, her third WCWA championship, earned bronze at the Pan Am Championships and took silver in the April edition of the Dave Schultz tournament.

There are four other U.S. women who have made trips to age-group World Championships, including Junior World teamers Cody Pfau, Forrest Molinari and Rachel Watters and University World team member Amy Fearnside.

Pfau (Brush, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) and Watters (Ankeny, Iowa/Aries WC) have each been on three Junior World Teams.

Pfau, who will wrestle at 48 kg/106 lbs., took second at the 2017 Senior World Team Trials and was a two-time fifth-place finisher at Junior Worlds, falling in the bronze-medal match in 2013 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and 2015 in Salvador, Brazil.

A two-time WCWA champion for Oklahoma City, Pfau recently began her senior season at Emmauel College.

Watters recently wrapped up her UWW Junior career at this year’s Junior Worlds in Finland, competing at 72 kg. She also went to the 2015 and 2016 Junior World tournaments. In all three showings, she put up top-10 performances, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 2015.

The Oklahoma City University sophomore owns one international medal, a silver from the 2016 Bill Farrell International.

Next week, she will contend for her first international gold at 75 kg/165 lbs.

Molinari (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) recently picked up gold at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, just two weeks ago. She has had a breakout international season this year, earning bronze at the Pan American Championships and the Grand Prix of Spain.

U23 Worlds will mark Molinari’s second visit to the World stage. She finished seventh on the planet at the 2015 Junior World Championships. She will wrestle at 69 kg/152 lbs.

Earlier this year, Molinari graduated from King University, where she was a 2016 WCWA champion, 2017 runner-up. In 2015, she was an All-American for Missouri Baptist.

2014 University World bronze medalist Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) has worked her way onto the U.S. National Team ladder, finishing third at Senior Trials at 53 kg/117 lbs. She also holds three University Nationals titles to her name from 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Fearnside was a four-time WCWA All-American for Jamestown.

Molinari and Fearnside are the newest additions to the resident athlete program at the Olympic Training Center.

WCWA stars Dominique Parrish and Megan Black will take on the world at 55 kg/121 lbs. and 58 kg/128 lbs., respectively.

Parrish (Scotts Valley, Calif./Burnaby Mountain WC) is a member of the 2017 Senior National Team and recently earned bronze at the Dave Schultz Memorial this month.

She is a two-time WCWA All-American for Simon Fraser, taking second in 2017.

Black (Batavia, Iowa/Bearcat WC) is a two-time WCWA runner-up for McKendree University and was an All-American in 2014 for King University. Black took top honors at University Nationals early this year.

The women’s freestyle portion of the event is set for Nov. 23-24. Up first for the U.S. in women’s freestyle are Parrish (55 kg), Black (58 kg), Nelson (63 kg) and Watters (75 kg) on Thursday, Nov. 23, followed by Pfau (48 kg), Fearnside (53 kg), Miracle (60 kg) and Molinari (69 kg) on Friday, Nov. 24.

The preliminary rounds begin at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET), with the medal matches beginning at 6 p.m. (12 p.m. ET) on both days. Bydgoszcz is six hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.

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

at Bydgoszcz, Poland, Nov. 21-26

Women’s freestyle roster
48 kg/106 lbs. – Cody Pfau (Brush, Colo./Titan Mercury)
53 kg/117 lbs. – Amy Fearnside (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury)
55 kg/121 lbs. – Dominique Parrish (Scotts Valley, Calif./Burnaby Mountain WC)
58 kg/128 lbs. – Megan Black (Batavia, Iowa/Bearcat WC)
60 kg/130 lbs. – Kayla Miracle (Campbellsville, Ky./Sunkist Kids)
63 kg/139 lbs. – Maya Nelson (Denver, Colo./Sunkist Kids)
69 kg/152 lbs. – Forrest Molinari (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury)
75 kg/165 lbs. – Rachel Watters (Ankeny, Iowa/Aries WC)

Schedule (Bydgoszcz local time)
Tuesday, Nov. 21
Greco-Roman – 71 kg, 75 kg, 85 kg, 98 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
5 p.m. – Opening ceremony
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Wednesday, Nov. 22
Greco-Roman – 59 kg, 66 kg, 80 kg, 130 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Thursday, Nov. 23
Women’s freestyle – 55 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg, 75 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Friday, Nov. 24
Women’s freestyle – 48 kg, 53 kg, 60 kg, 69 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Saturday, Nov. 25
Men’s freestyle – 57 kg, 61kg, 86 kg, 125 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches

Sunday, Nov. 26
Men’s freestyle – 65 kg, 70 kg, 74 kg, 97 kg
10 a.m. – Qualification rounds and repechage
6 p.m. – Medal matches