Women’s Nationals, known for years as “Body Bar,” is a convergence of many levels of women’s wrestling. From established and decorated high school and college athletes, to new and emerging performers, it’s an opportunity to see who’s who in women’s wrestling, and a big stage for many to make their mark.
Here’s a look at 10 breakout performances from this year’s Women’s Nationals. A breakout performance doesn’t mean they weren’t known before, though it could mean that. It might just mean they did something special to elevate themselves into a new tier, breaking through a barrier into new career territory. There’s certainly many not on this list deserving of consideration, but here’s our top 10.
Adriana Dorado Marin (Army/WCAP) U20, 55 kg
Dorado Marin has been on fire in May. After winning the U.S. Open with a shocking come-from-behind win over Cameron Guerin, she put on an encore performance at Women’s Nationals by earning her first Junior World Team spot. She made a Cadet World Team in 2019. After defeating California’s Carissa Qureshi 11-0 in the semis, she went on to defeat North Central College All-American Amani Jones in the finals 15-2 and 10-5. When you put these two weeks together, you’d have to consider Dorado Marin one of the top breakout performers this year.
Audrey Jimenez (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club) — U17, 49 kg; U20, 50 kg
Jimenez doubled up in Fort Worth. Many of us knew her before this weekend, but to do what she did in Fort Worth makes her worthy of this list. The sophomore from Arizona took out well-known Sage Mortimer with a 2-0 series win in the U20 finals. Impressive. After shutting out a scrappy Ava Ward in the U17 finals with 6-0 and 4-0 wins, she beat Mortimer in the U20 finals 11-0 and 7-2. We knew the young star was good, but didn’t know if she was this good yet. She is. Mortimer beat her 8-5 in 2021 when the Utah star was still in high school on the FloWrestling Burroughs vs. Taylor card in Nebraska. Obviously Jimenez has leveled up since then. The force is strong with this one.
Tristan Kelly (Army/WCAP) — U20 and U23, 76 kg
58-0. That’s right. She outscored her opponents 58-0 in the U20 division. That’s not a typo. Was this the most dominant performance in the history of U20 World Team Trials? No one looked close to her. She’ll be a fantastic World Team rep for Team USA. Kelly made the Cadet World Team in 2018 and won Junior Nationals in 2020, but Junior Worlds were canceled that summer. As good as Kelly has been in the past, this was certainly a breakout performance for her to make her first Junior World Team that will actually compete overseas, and to do it in such a dominant fashion. She also took fourth in the U23 division.
Reese Larramendy (Wyoming Seminary) — U20, 65 kg
Larremendy told FloWrestling in her post-finals interview: “I’ve been thinking about this since I lost a year ago.” The future Iowa wrestler came out of the #4 seed spot and racked up impressive wins all the way to the title. After an opening-round win, Larramendy beat #6 HS ranked Isabella Mir 11-0 in the Round of 16, then won by fall over Tar Heel Chloe Ogden in the quarters, a wrestler who was ranked #1 in high school before she transitioned to the college scene. In the semis, Larramendy got by another talented young rising star, NY RTC’s Maya Letona with a gritty 6-4 win to advance to the finals, where she dominated Elleni Johnson in two straight 10-0 tech falls. Larramendy was a U15 world silver medalist in 2019, and broke out this year to make her first U20 World Team.
Ana Luciano (Team Tornado Wrestling Club) — U23, 68 kg
Luciano has been grinding for years. She was good in high school, she’s been great in college, but this is her first World Team. And she earned it, taking down a string of college All-Americans to make the finals with wins over Tiyahna Askew, Kaylynn Albrecht, and Dalia Garibay. Luciano controlled the finals with a fall and 10-0 tech fall over Simmons Academy of Wrestling’s Lydia Krauss. How sweet it is for the King University wrestler to bust through and earn a trip to Spain to represent her country?
Sofia Macaluso (Team New York/Venom Wrestling Club) — U20, 57 kg
Macaluso was mentioned last week in our tournament preview as a dark horse. She’s never made a World Team, but had a monster year, forging her aggressive, suffocating style against some of the best boys in New York, where she was a starter on the state champ boys team, Minisink Valley. She was teammates with PJ Duke and Zack Ryder, both of whom have recently made national attention on the boys’ circuit. Macaluso came into this weekend ranked #1 in national high school girls rankings, and wrestled like it in Fort Worth. With college women in the bracket, it wasn’t easy. She had to start her run with a battle against NAIA All-American Devin Patton from Texas Wesleyan, a back and forth match she won, eventually pulling away and gaining the fall in the second period. Then she ran into an even bigger test in the semis, where she faced red-hot Southern Oregon NAIA national champion Carolina Moreno, coming back from a 4-0 deficit at the break to win by fall. In the finals, she faced another college All-American, Claire DiCugno, who was a returning World Team member. Macaluso proved she deserved the spot this year, efficiently scoring and defending, winning two similar matches, 8-3 and 9-2.
Adaugo Nwachukwu (Swamp Monsters Wrestling Club/Iowa Wesleyan) — U20, 62 kg
This one doesn’t shock anyone who follows women’s wrestling in California. Nor does it shock anyone who followed NAIA women’s college wrestling this year. Nwachukwu was an absolute hammer in California high school wrestling, the toughest high school girls’ state tournament in the country. She was a two-time state champ in The Golden State. Then she followed it up with an NAIA national title for Iowa Wesleyan program, earning a stunning 13-3 tech fall win in the finals this year over Gracie Figueroa. After a third-place finish at the very tough U.S. Open last weekend, this weekend it was time to break out on the USAW scene, and that she did, earning her first World Team spot with an exciting 2-1 series win in the finals over 2019 Cadet silver medalist Skylar Hattendorf. After falling 16-11 to the savvy judo work of Hattendorf, Nwanchukwu’s corner made the tactical adjustments to take over the next two matches, winning 11-1 and 10-0 and earning the World Team spot. Know the name.
Lizzie Shunn (Champions Wrestling Club) — U17, 65 kg
Shunn made the finals out of a 33-woman group loaded with ranked opponents. She was challenged early, barely escaping a much different result with a razor-thin 6-6 win over Missouri’s Maria Slaughter in the Round of 16. At that point, not many would have predicted she’d grind through this bracket to make the World Team, but she did in a big way. After upsetting #1 seed Maggie Graham in the semis 10-2, she went on to put on a world-level performance with a 2-0 series win over #2 seed Sydney Perry in the finals, winning 7-2 in the first match and scoring a 10-0 tech fall in the second match at 2:56.
Morgan Turner (Toss Em Up Wrestling Academy) — U15, 39 kg
Did you see it on Flo’s Instagram? Looks like we’ve got a new young star on the scene. Morgan Turner put on a show in the 39-kilogram U15 finals, scoring two four-point feet-to-back double legs, reminiscent of that Burroughs guy, and then finished the match with a five-point supe, winning it 14-0. Look out world, here comes Morgan Turner! Don’t touch that dial.
Nyla Valencia (Bulldog Wrestling Club) — U20 and U23, 50kg
Most of the wrestling community probably stopped swiping on social media when they saw the post: Valencia beats Shilson. Wait, what? Let me read that again. Valencia beats Shilson 8-5. You read it right. The two-time Super 32 champ, still in high school, did the unthinkable. She upset last year’s Junior and U23 World champion in the semis of the 50-kilogram U23 division. Then she went on to close it out, getting two very impressive wins in the finals over two-time NAIA champion Nina Pham, 19-8 and 10-0. Now THAT’S a weekend. Will be fun to see what she can do at Worlds, especially considering she’s already beaten the reigning World champ.