Women's Wrestling Blog

  • Team USA Women's Wrestling Getting Stronger

    by Admin User | Oct 04, 2010

    It was an exciting summer for women’s wrestling.  As I mentioned in previous posts, more females are assuming leadership roles, college programs are adding women’s wrestling as a varsity sport and females participating in wrestling in the US is higher than ever.  I’m excited about these changes and I believe women’s wrestling is “on the right path” to growth and international success.

    Recently, the US men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman teams were unsuccessful in earning a medal at the World Championships for the first time since 1974.  Many athletes, coaches and fans are discouraged by the outcome and are beginning to question the “path” that our international athletes and/or USA Wrestling are on.  In the wake of all of the accusations and attacks, I think it’s important to point out what the women’s side of wrestling is doing and why I think the women are on a path to much more international success in the very near future.

    This group of athletes loves to wrestle!  I have a renewed sense of joy and love for the sport of wrestling after a weekend with our female athletes.  They love to train and compete.  The sport is still very new to them.  I believe joy and love are the two most important motivating factors on earth.  It seems as if there is a shift in motivating factors with many of the male athletes that is closely associated with winning medals and earning money.  The top women are competing (and having success) because they enjoy what they’re doing.

    The national team system is focused on development.  Terry Steiner and Coach Izzy do a wonderful job at developing the Cadet and Junior level athletes to compete at the international level.  They already have a lot of things on their side, such as more focus on freestyle (less on Folkstyle) for young athletes, females are physically able to compete with senior level athletes much sooner than men, etc.  Nonetheless, they place a keen focus on developing these athletes for future international success.

    The national team staff is tangible to youth athletes.  The pool of athletes is much smaller than the men’s side, no doubt, however, most of the female athletes at the various girl’s national tournaments know Terry Steiner and Coach Izzy personally.  Not only do they know them, they see them at their events.  It’s invaluable for those young female athletes to know the individuals they aspire to be and have opportunities to work with them.  On several occasions, the junior development camps are held alongside national team camps.

    We’re one team – Team USA.  Obviously, the domestic competitions are fierce and personalities are not always eager to work together.  However, in the end, it is one team.  I see USAW and the national team staff turn to grassroots members, college coaches and club coaches for input.  It’s almost as if people are uniquely positioned to challenge the leadership to help the program grow.  As a result, when it’s time to represent the country, everyone is on the same page because they have fought for common goals.

    Depth.  The women’s national team training model, including the things mentioned above, is proven to be successful with the current depth in the US.  The athletes train together regularly (iron sharpens iron) and our 2nd and 3rd athletes are as good as our number one on any given day.  This year, all seven world team members had potential to earn a medal at the world championships.  Not all of them did.  What’s unique about the women is that there were 2-3 athletes at each weight class that would have had the same realistic chance at a medal and in some cases, a better chance.

  • Future is Bright for Women's Wrestling

    by Admin User | Jul 29, 2010


    July 28, 2010

    It was another exciting summer of women’s wrestling in the US.  As a member of the women’s wrestling community, we have much to look forward to.  In the summer of 2010, the development of women’s wrestling at the grassroots level and the success at the international level has synergized like never before.  The continued commitment from prominent organizations like the NWCA and USA Wrestling will bring many visions to fruition in the near future.

    Cadet & Junior National Championships

    A landmark decision has been made within USA Wrestling and was unanimously supported by the women’s wrestling community to add a separate Cadet National Championship tournament for female athletes.  This is a giant step forward as it will allow many new and eager athletes to participate.  Previously, the freestyle national tournament held in Fargo, ND has included only Junior level athletes.  Although this includes most of the high school athletes, it excludes a large number of 8th grade students who are in the Cadet age level.  I believe this will help grow the national tournament because many females chose not to continue with the sport once they reach high school.  This way, some of those athletes will have the opportunity to compete on our country’s largest stage.  My guess is that they’ll be “hooked.”

    New college programs

    Every year, more and more universities are interested in the addition of women’s wrestling programs.  This year we will see 3-5 new programs.  What is unique about this summer is women’s wrestling coaches are beginning to effectively network with each other and many programs have started working together to see continued growth.  It’s very exciting because many college coaches believe recognition of women’s wrestling as an emerging sport within the NCAA and/or the NAIA will open the flood gates of high school participation as well.

    Female coaches taking the lead

    Three of the most successful and historic women’s wrestling programs took a tremendous step in supporting women’s programs by hiring females as their head coaches.  University of the Cumberlands, Menlo College and Lindenwood University called on some of our country’s greatest female athletes to assume the leadership responsibilities of their programs.  Olympians Marcie Van Dusen (Menlo) and Tocarra Montgomery (Lindenwood), along with world team member Alaina Berube (Cumberlands), were named head coaches of their respective institutions in May.

    The future is bright for women’s wrestling in the United States.  Take initiative in your local club or community to encourage female athletes to take advantage of the many new opportunities.  We’re all in a position to be pioneers in the sport.


  • Summer of International Wrestling

    by Admin User | Jul 08, 2010

    Summer is well under way and a lot has already happened in the world of women’s wrestling.  Our junior, university and senior-level world teams have been training together and will compete this weekend for the first time in 2010 as a team at the Canada Cup in Guelph, Ontario.   Following this weekend of competition, Team USA will stay in Guelph for an extended training camp with the Canadian National Teams.

    The first major competition of the summer will take place in Istanbul, Turkey when the Junior World Team will be looking for their first ever team world title.  Last summer the junior team looked like they had a great opportunity to win the team title, but fell short.  This summer looks promising again as nearly the entire team has an abundance of international experience.  Victoria Anthony was a world champion last summer and moved up a weight class and will compete at 48 kg.  Helen Maroulis (55 kg) and Tatiana Padilla (59 kg) are past junior world medalist who will help lead the team that will be coached by Vladislav Izboinokov (Coach Izzy).

    Soon after the Junior World Championships take place, the country’s top high school athletes will congregate in Fargo, ND for the ASICS Junior National Championships.  The women’s division has grown in participants each year since its inception.  However, the numbers could be affected this year because the Junior Women’s Duals were moved to Oklahoma City a few weeks ago.

    From the future stars of our sport to the current super stars, head women’s USA coach Terry Steiner does a wonderful job of preparing our country for international success.  Steiner spends endless energy collaborating with coaches from grassroots to university and senior club programs.  His intent is to see everyone work together as Team USA.  At the present moment, all of our world teams are together as one team on foreign soil.  The future impact of this type of cooperation will make the future of women’s wrestling very exciting.

  • Kevin Black on the WCWA National Championships

    by Admin User | Feb 03, 2010

    Missouri Valley College was the host of the WCWA National Championships for the second consecutive year.  The familiarity was nice for all who were involved.  The weigh-in was held earlier in the day on Friday to allow plenty of time for the annual coaches meeting.  Following the meeting, all of the athletes ate together at the banquet where the WCWA Scholar Athletes were recognized.

    The tournament began promptly at 9:00am on Saturday morning.  Wrestling took place on three mats for the first round and then two mats for the remainder of the tournament.  Oklahoma City University ran away with the team title, but there seemed to much more parity across the entire field of wrestlers.  Since last year, the depth and quality at each weight class improved immensely as well.

    There were 12 teams represented at the national tournament this year and 10 teams had an individual in the championship finals.  Many of the top college-aged women in the US and Canada demonstrated why we’ve come to expect so much from some fine ladies like Victoria Anthony, Katherine Fulp-Allen, Michaela Hutchison, Helen Maroulis and Danielle Lappage.  These girls have multiple national titles and age-level world medals.  Anthony was a junior world champion last season while Fulp-Allen was a University world champion.

    A few athletes rose to the occasion and they competed their best at the national championships, establishing themselves as contenders in tournaments to come, most notably Stephanie Waters, Amy Whitbeck and Shauna Isbell.  Waters and Whitbeck have extensive experience through USA Wrestling events, but Isbell was virtually unheard of coming into this event.  She wrestled a very close finals match with Hutchison.

    It’s great to see so many quality female athletes competing in the sport of wrestling.  One of the largest hurdles that women’s wrestling faces is convincing the wrestling world that these women can wrestle very well.  Unfortunately, we’re stuck in the rut of measuring the success of females in how they stack up against the men or if they can beat boys.  This way of thinking is out-of-date and we need to move away from that and judge the women by how the compete with each other.

    Congratulations to Oklahoma City for winning their second straight national championship and to Head Coach Archie Randall for earning Coach of the Year honors.  Katherine Fulp-Allen was the WCWA Wrestler of the Year once again and she shared her national title with her family as her father, Lee Allen, was able to coach his daughter to her third national title in what was his final collegiate tournament as a coach.  Lee announced his retirement on Friday.  Thank you Lee for all you’ve done for the sport.

  • Kevin Black's National Duals Wrap-Up

    by Admin User | Jan 12, 2010

    January 9, 2010

    NWCA National Duals – Day 1

    One of the great events on the WCWA schedule is the NWCA National Duals.  It’s a great opportunity for these two organizations to collaborate and help grow the sport of women’s wrestling.  Once again, eight teams were invited to participate in the premier dual meet event in the United States.  For two days, men from NCAA divisions I, II and III, as well as NJCAA and NAIA teams, along with WCWA teams battle head-to-head in a two-day event held inside the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, IA.  For this weekend, the campus of the University of Northern Iowa became the “Mecca” for wrestling.

    In terms of growing women’s wrestling, this is a premier event.  Anytime the top women have the opportunity to compete alongside the top men, authentic wrestling fans see how great women’s wrestling can be.  Inevitably, lifetime wrestling fans begin to appreciate these women giving their hearts and souls to competing.  Acquiring these new fans is a key for growth.  Unfortunately, at the last moment, two of the eight teams were unable to attend.

    In the opening round of the women’s competition, we were fortunate to see two of the most established programs in women’s college wrestling history face off.  Missouri Valley College and Menlo College fought to the last individual match.  In the end, MVC came away with a 19-17 victory.  The energy was similar to that of the close division 1 match (on a much smaller scale).  It was a great start.

    Later in the day, Menlo met the returning team champion Oklahoma City University.  At 51 kg/112 lbs, two of our country’s best faced off for the third time this season.  Katherine Fulp-Allen (Menlo) and Natasha Umemoto (OCU) were 1-1 on the season and Fulp-Allen won a very close “rubber match” with a takedown as time expired.  Fulp-Allen was a University World Champion last year.

    January 10, 2010

    NWCA National Duals – Day 2

    The second day of the tournament started out with the top two teams competing within their pool.  With six teams, they were split into two separate round robin brackets.  The champion from each pool squared off in the championship bout.  Oklahoma City University won pool A and Simon Fraser won pool B.  OCU won the title last year while SFU was attending the Duals for the first time.

    Simon Fraser is located in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.  It’s just outside of Vancouver and is a member of the NAIA coached by Mike Jones.  Jones is in his 32nd year as a coach.  SFU graduate Carol Huyhn won an Olympic Gold Medal in Beijing, so the Clan brings great tradition and respect to this event.  This season, they’re led by many Canadian national team members and America’s own Victoria Anthony from Huntington Beach, CA.  Anthony was a Junior National champion, winning outstanding wrestler honors, and a Junior World Champion representing Team USA in Istanbul, Turkey.

    In a one-sided dual meet, Oklahoma City was able to repeat as team champions.  They’ll keep their #1 ranking going into the WCWA National Championships on January 29-30 in Marshall, MO.

    Congratulations to all of the teams that competed at the NWCA National Duals this year.  We hope to have another great competition next season while see women’s wrestling continue to grow.

  • Kevin Black discusses the Can/Am Open

    by Admin User | Nov 25, 2009


    The second annual Can/Am Open was held in Jamestown, ND on Saturday, November 21st.  The Can/Am is the premier women’s college open tournament in the United States.  Because of the location, the tournament attracts teams from Canada as well as the most of the top WCWA programs.


    Jamestown College head coach Cisco Cole did an admirable job in organizing the event.  Next year, the tournament will be even bigger as three more Canadian teams have committed to participating in 2010.  The Can/Am would have been even larger this year, but due to a scheduling conflict, some college athletes participated in the prestigious NYAC International Open in New York City.


    Individual champions at the Can/Am Open:

    44kg – Stephanie Waters (Oklahoma City)

    48kg – Hajar Astiani (Regina)

    51kg – Natasha Umemoto (Oklahoma City)

    55kg – Michaela Hutchison (Oklahoma City)

    59kg – Randi Beltz (Missouri Valley)

    63kg – Shiela McCabe (Oklahoma City)

    67kg – Lisa McKibben (Regina)

    72kg – Amber Miracle (USOEC/Northern Michigan)

    82kg – Brittany Delgado (Oklahoma City)

    95kg – Beth Thompson (Saskatchewan)


    Every year, more wrestling opportunities are becoming available to college females.  Not only have we seen new programs spurring up across the US, like King College in Bristol, TN, but reputable tournaments are being held nearly every weekend. 


    In addition to the Can/Am Open in Jamestown, ND, Kip Flanik at the University of the Cumberlands holds the Harry Geris Memorial and Lee Allen hosts the Lady Oak Open at Menlo College.  The Harry Geris Memorial takes place on December 5th in Williamsburg, KY and the Lady Oaks Open is January 2nd on the campus of Menlo College in Atherton, CA.


    These great events help prepare athletes for the NWCA National Duals (January 8-10) and the WCWA National Championships (January 29-30). 


  • Kevin Black talks about development camp opportunities

    by Admin User | Nov 17, 2009

    Last week I was in Chula Vista, CA at the US Olympic Training Center for a Junior Women’s Development Camp.  The campus is spectacular and one of the most ideal training environments in the entire world.  The weather is perfect year round and the opportunities are endless at the center.  It was a world-class camp for the girl’s in the United States who chose to take part.

    US Development Coach Vladimir Izboinikov (Coach Izzy) has done a tremendous job in his role of preparing the country’s junior level athletes for elite competition.  His position was created almost five years ago and many athletes who participated in the first development camps are now seeing international experience on a variety of levels, including Junior, University and Senior World Championships.

    To USA Wrestling and the national team coaching staff, the success of the athletes who participate in the development camps comes as no surprise.  Every USAW All-American earns “funded access” status and can attend development camps at a drastically reduced price as an Olympic development opportunity.  Other athletes are welcome to participate as well. 

    It is not a coincidence that most of the girls at these camps do very well in Fargo at the Junior National Championships and other national level tournaments.

    Stay attentive to posts on themat.com, USA Wrestling’s official website, for future development camp opportunities.

  • Kevin Black Discusses Women's Junior Nationals

    by Admin User | Jul 28, 2009

    Another great summer wrestling season came to a conclusion last week in the FargoDome on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.  The ASICS Junior/Cadet National Championships is the highlight of the summer for many wrestlers, coaches and wrestling fans.  This summer, the women’s division was the best that it has ever been.

    Individuals who have experienced success at the senior level internationally showcased their talent at the junior level here in the United States.  Adeline Gray, a 2009 Senior World Team Member, US National Champion and 2008 Junior World champion won another Junior National title.  She moved up to 165 pounds this year and went untested, as many expected.  Other athletes who have had tremendous success at senior-level events and were crowned Junior National Champions were Victoria Anthony, CC Weber and Veronica Carlson.  Similar to Gray, these fine young ladies were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the competition at their respective weight classes.  Anthony, a native of Huntington Beach, California, was named Outstanding Wrestler and was a member of Team California who also won the dual meet championships.  Anthony was also named themat.com wrestler of the week, gaining positive media coverage for women’s wrestling.

    A lot of thankless hours and tireless efforts go into making the Junior National Championships the premier event in our sport.  Coaches from across the country spend time training athletes, state directors put in many hours registering teams and making sure that everything runs smoothly for their state, and USA Wrestling employees spend ten days in Fargo working behind the scenes so everyone can have a positive experience.  Year in and year out, we are fortunate to see many of our top athletes giving back to the sport by serving as coaches for various states.  Team California was graced with the presence of Olympian Marcie Van Dusen and former National Team Member Emily Rinehart, among others.  The team runner-up Texas, had Olympic Bronze Medalist Randi Miller on their coaching staff.  Other current and former national team members that were seen in the corners were Alaina Berube, Sharon Jacobson, Leigh Jaynes, Jenna Pavlik and other great senior-level competitors. 

    Also, some of our top collegiate coaches were on the floor recruiting or coaching their home state.  Kip Flanik and Carl Murphree have spent many consecutive years coaching Ohio and Missouri, respectively.  Cisco Cole, Link Davis, Tony DeAnda, Shannyn Gillespie, Brian Jackson and Archie Randall were also in attendance.  Similar to the path of success and opportunity for our country’s male wrestlers, the route to collegiate opportunities runs through Fargo and these coaches understand the importance of competing in the summer at freestyle events.

    Next summer will be a terrific year to get involved at the Junior National tournament.  Many of this year’s champions were high school graduates and multiple-time winners of the event.  Next year we will look forward to new superstars rising to the top and taking advantage of opportunities to win a Junior National Championship.  Contact your USA Wrestling state director or state coach to inquire about how to get involved in the biggest wrestling tournament in the world!

  • Kevin Black Discusses Women's Wrestling

    by Admin User | Jun 23, 2009

    This is the first entry of my bi-monthly blog on my role as a women’s representative with the National Wrestling Coaches Association.  I am very proud to be associated with the NWCA and to have the honor to serve as a board member.  The NWCA has been a part of many great moments and created a lot of tremendous opportunities in wrestling.  Now, it once again has an opportunity to provide new opportunities in the avenue of women’s wrestling.

    As the women’s representative for the NWCA, I believe one of my central roles is to unify our efforts with other great organizations such as USA Wrestling and the Women’s College Wrestling Association (WCWA). 

    USA Wrestling took an initiative in 2002 to make women’s wrestling in our country an international power when the hired Terry Steiner as the USA Women’s Coach.  Terry was previously an assistant coach at various prominent NCAA Division 1 wrestling programs, but moved his family to Colorado Springs in hopes of building Olympic Champions and World Champions.  Terry and the women’s wrestling team had their “coming out” party at the 2003 World Championships in New York as many American wrestling fans saw their women achieve much success on the international stage.  One year later, Patricia Miranda and Sara McMann became the first women in the United States to win Olympic medals in wrestling.

    Overall, the United States is viewed as an international power in women’s wrestling circles and the women have benefitted greatly from the support of USA Wrestling, but there were many other players behind the scenes building women’s wrestling at the collegiate and grassroots programs prior to USA Wrestling’s involvement.  Kent Bailo and the United States Girl’s Wrestling Association is the largest women’s wrestling organization in the United States and has held a national championship for all ages for twelve years.  Kent started from scratch and built his organization like many other wrestling programs and organizations, with a lot of family involvement and support.  The USGWA became extremely relevant when college programs used the USGWA National Championships as their number one recruiting avenue.  Most recently, USA Wrestling has added national championships in freestyle (Fargo, ND) and Folkstyle wrestling (Oklahoma City, OK).

    Current collegiate coaches Kip Flanik (University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky) and Carl Murphree (Missouri Valley College) have been recruiting top high school athletes from USGWA tournaments for years.  Along with Lee Allen (Menlo College), Kip and Carl were very instrumental in bringing established varsity women’s programs into the Women’s College Wrestling Association, established in 2007.  The University of the Cumberlands was the first WCWA team champions after winning multiple collegiate titles before the development of a collegiate governing body.

    The main role of the WCWA is to serve college programs with established rules and guidelines for an official collegiate season.  The objective of the WCWA is to have a product in place that can easily be adapted by the NCAA or NAIA in the near future as they seek “emerging sport” status.

    I am fortunate, as a member of the NWCA, to be deeply involved in both USA Wrestling and the WCWA.  This year, I will serve as a World Team coach in Herning, Denmark.  I was a World Team coach in 2007 in Baku, Azerbaijan.  I am also the current President of the WCWA.  Together with my responsibilities with the NWCA, I hope to help unite the efforts between all three organizations to see women’s wrestling grow at the grassroots and collegiate levels while seeing the United States become the number one women’s wrestling country in the world!