Young women’s talent prevails at U.S. Open; prepares for Final X

Updated: May 3, 2023

Photos: Clockwise from left, Xochitl Mota-Pettis, Audrey Jimenez and Kennedy Blades all defeated more veteran wrestlers during the women’s freestyle tournament at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, and hope to make their first Senior World Team this summer. Jimenez rallied to beat two-time World bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe at 50k; Mota-Pettis threw t0p=seed Alexandra Hedrick at 57k and Blades defeated six-time World champion Adeline Gray at 76k. (Sam Janicki photos)

The following is a breakdown of the women’s freestyle tournament from the 2023 U.S. Open, which was held April 27-30 in Las Vegas, Nev., where the 10 winners earned a place in USA Wrestling’s Final X, June 10, in Newark, N.J. There will also be a special World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, May 20-21 in Colorado Springs, to finalize the field at Final X, where the winners of the best-of-3 matches will determine the three U.S. teams that will compete in the 2023 UWW World Championships, Sept. 16-24, in Belgrade, Serbia.

Click here to view a recap of the men’s freestyle tournament. Meanwhile, a review of the Recaps Greco-Roman tournament will be available on Friday. Also WIN Magazine will provide even more features and notes and even comprehensive preview of Final X in the next issue, printed May 23. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.

Women’s Freestyle

50 kilograms/110 pounds

Championship — Audrey Jimenez (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids WC), 10-10 — Jimenez, seeded No. 3, trailed the top-seed and five-time World Team member 8-0 with 1:59 left in the match before she scored eight straight points and tied the bout 8-8 with 1:13 left. Lampe came back to take a 10-8 lead with 20 seconds left before Jimenez scored the final two points and held criteria for the victory.

Other Notes — Erin Golston (NYAC), the No. 2 seed, who lost 13-2 in the semis to Jimenez, came back to claim third with a 10-0 technical fall over No. 4 Sage Mortimer (TMWC).

Final X Preview – Jimenez, from Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Ariz., will take on Sarah Hildebrandt, the four-time World/Olympic medalist, who earned a spot in Final X by claiming a bronze medal in the 2022 World Championships.

53 kilograms/116.5 pounds

Championship — Katie Gomez (SKWC) won by TF over Samara Chavez (Team Tornado WC), 12-2 (3:49) — Chavez actually scored the first two points 18 seconds into the bout before Gomez stormed back to take a 6-2 lead at the break, then put the match away on a takedown and two exposure moves in the first minute of the second period.

Other Notes: Gomez, seeded third, advanced to the finals with a 7-2 victory over Felicity Taylor (Iowa Wrestling), about the same time Chavez, seeded No. 5, stunned the No. 1 seed Amy Fearnside (TMWC), 18-17, on a stepout with 13 seconds left. Fearnside led 6-2 at the intermission before a trio of four-point moves by Gomez gave her a 16-7 lead with 1:15 left. Fearnside did not quit and battled back with four takedowns and two-point exposure to tie the match with 28 seconds left.

Final X Preview: Gomez will face Dominque Parrish, who earned an automatic spot in Final X by winning a 2022 World championship last fall.

55 kilograms/121 pounds

Championship — Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Lauren Mason, 8-3 — Howk, the No. 3 seed, scored six of her points in the first period and added her final two points with 21 seconds left against the No. 2 seed.

Other Notes: Howk beat the No. 2 seed Marissa Gallegos (TMWC), 8-6, in a semifinals, while Mason trailed Arena Villaescusa (Army WCAP), 12-5 with 54 seconds left before she took the No. 5 seed to her back and scored a fall with 36 seconds left.

Final X Preview: Howk will await the winner of the special World Team Trials.  That could include Mason, Gallegos or 2022 World Team member Jacarra Winchester, the 2019 World champ who did not enter the U.S. Open, but was still eligible for the WTT Challenge Tournament.

57 kilograms/125.5 pounds

Championship — Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Rise RTC) won by TF over Alexandra Hedrick (TMWC), 10-0 (0:44) — Mota-Pettis, seeded No. 3, scored a four-point throw 27 seconds into the match, then ended the bout against the No. 1 seed (who competed in 2022 Final X) with three two-point turns over the next 14 seconds.

Other Notes: Mota-Pettis reached the finals with a 12-10 victory over No. 2 Amanda Martinez (TMWC) by scoring two takedowns in the final 52 seconds.

Final X Preview: Mota-Pettis will face Helen Maroulis, the four-time World/Olympic gold medalist, who earned a spot in Final X by winning a silver medal in the 2022 Worlds.

59 kilograms/130 pounds

Championship — Michaela Beck (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Maya Nelson (Sunkist Kids WC), 5-3 — Trailing 1-0 at the break, the No. 3-seeded Beck scored a pair of takedown and a stepout to win the title over the top seed.

Other Notes: Beck reached the finals when she rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat 2022 World Team member Abigail Nette, 4-4, criteria.

Final X Preview: Beck will face the winner of the WTT Challenge Tourney, which could include Nelson and Nette.

62 kilograms/136 pounds

Championship — Adaugo Nwachukwu (TMWC) dec. Jennifer Page (NLWC), 10-8 — Nwachukwu, the No. 2 seed and national college champ from Iowa Wesleyan, trailed the top seed 8-4 at the break before scoring a four-point move in the first 28 seconds of the second period, then clinched the win on a takedown nine seconds later.

Other Notes: Bridgette Duty, the No. 6 seed, claimed third place, after upsetting No. 3 seed Amanda Hendey, 14-8, in the quarterfinals.

Final X Preview: Nwachukwu will take on Kayla Miracle, the 2020 Olympian, who earned a spot in Final X by claiming a second straight World silver medal last fall in Serbia.

65 kilograms/143 pounds

Championship — Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Emma Bruntil (TMWC), 5-1 — Trailing on criteria, top-seeded Kilty claimed the championship with a pair of takedowns in the final 41 seconds over the second seed.

Other Notes: Maya Letona (NYCRTC) finished third as the No. 6 seed won by a 12-1 technical fall over No. 3 Ana Luciano in the quarterfinals.

Final X Preview: Kilty, who finished second at the 2020 Olympic Trials, will face Mallory Velte, who earned a Final X spot with a second World bronze medal in last year’s championships.

68 kilograms/150 pounds

Championship — Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids WC) pinned Alexandra Glaude (Beaver Dam RTC), 4:21 — Molinari, the three-time World Team member and 2021 World bronze medalist, scored bonus points in all four bouts and as the No. 1 seed was leading 8-0 before she pinned the No. 3 seed.

Other Notes: Glaude reached the final with an 11-0 technical fall over No. 2 seed Solin Piearcy (Menlo WC) in the semis.

Final X Preview: With World/Olympic champ Tamyra Mensah Stock turning down the Final X invitation, Molinari will now face the winner of the WTT Challenge tournament, which could include Glaude and Piearcy.

72 kilograms/158.5 pounds

Championship — Joye Levendusky (New York) won by TF over Rose Cassioppi (NYAC), 10-0 — The No. 2 seed ended the match 1:07 left in the match when she scored her fifth takedown of the match against the No. 4 seed.

Other Notes: It was a tough tournament for the No. 1 seed Marilyn Garcia of Birmingham Community Charter High School Wrestling. First, she lost 10-0 to unseeded Kaylynn Albrecht (Wildcat Elite) in the quarterfinals, then fell 9-0 to No. 6 seed Brooklyn Hays in the third-place match.

Final X Preview: Levendusky will take on Amit Elor, the reigning World champion, who finished on top of the podium in last fall’s Worlds in Serbia.

76 kilograms/167.5 pounds

Championship — Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids WC) won by TF over Adeline Gray (NYAC), 12-2 — Blades, the No. 2 seed, used a four-point throw to lead 8-0 in the first period, then ended the match 28 seconds into the second period with her fifth takedown against the six-time World champion.

Other Notes: Blades also pinned 2023 Women’s College Wrestler of the Year Yelena Makoyed of North Central College in the semifinals. In the other semi, Gray was trailing 8-0 against Dymond Guilford (TMWC) but pulled within 8-6 and earned a victory over the 2022 World Team member who was cautioned a third time for passivity with 38 seconds left in the match. Makoyed came back to finish third when she defeated former Junior World champ Kylie Welker in the consy semis, then earned a forfeit against Guilford.

Final X Preview: Blades will face the winner of the WTT Challenge Tournament, a field which could include Gray, Makoyed, Guilford and Welker.