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Ottawa Ari­zona Earns First Wom­en’s Title With Four National Champions

| Scott Farrell

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Ottawa Arizona already had command of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships heading into Saturday’s finals matches. The Spirit then cemented their first NCWA title with individual titles in the first three weight classes to pace a 120-point effort.

All three matches ended by fall as freshman Jennifer Alcott (101 pounds), junior Hermelinda Mendoza (109) and sophomore LyQualah Kinsey (116) scored quick pins in the first or second periods. Julia Mata added another title at 155 pounds to cap Ottawa’s scoring. Taliyah Armstrong (130) and Cheyenne Williams (170) lost their championship bouts but the six finalists made it an easy choice for head coach Edward Cruz to earn NCWA Coach of the Year honors for a second year in a row. Ottawa took second a year ago.

The NCWA was the first association to recognize women’s collegiate wrestling and now the first to bring it to Puerto Rico. The association created a new Puerto Rico Conference with seven member schools on the island and held its NCWA Championships in San Juan in recognition of multiple efforts by wrestling leaders here to grow the sport locally.

Mendoza became Ottawa’s first national champion last year, winning the 101 class among the Spirit’s seven All-Americans. Starting things off at 101 this season was Alcott, who opened with a bang in earning her pin in the finals’ first minute. Mendoza’s win over Daniela Suttles of Grand Canyon make her the school’s first two-time national champion and puts her in the NCWA record book as well with her double titles tying for fifth on the NCWA’s career list. Kinsey topped Mia Armstrong of Texas-Arlington in the first period as well.

Ottawa’s eight All-Americans give the Spirit 26 in program history and move it into second place in NCWA history and first among teams currently competing. The four national champions tie Ottawa in seventh place for most in a single season.

The Most Outstanding Wrestler Award went to Veloria Pannell of MIT, now a two-time All-American. Pannell, a freshman, topped Anastacia Fucci of Colorado State 13-4 in the 143-pound final. Pannell’s 24 wins are the seventh-best total in a single season in NCWA history. She placed third at 123 pounds in 2022.

Lauren Stone of Florida defended her national title at 123 pounds with a first-period fall over Texas’ Mia Garza. Stone, a junior and now a two-time All-American, beat Pannell in the 123 semifinals last year and later earned the MOW for 2022.

Katie Moore, a junior at Stony Brook, also repeated as national champion in the 235-pound class with a win over Grays Harbor’s Kali Hood. Moore, coupled with last year’s medal, is Stony Brook’s first All-American in seven seasons.

Grays Harbor placed second to Ottawa with 80 team points and returns home with a national champion, Renaeh Ureste, who got an early pin over Texas Tech’s Melissa Moore in the 191-pound final. Grays Harbor finished with the one champion, a runner-up at 235 in Hood, and four third-place finishers.

Big Bend Community College in Washington, last year’s team champion, settled for third place with 41 points with a national champion at 170 in Samantha Meyer. It was her first All-America finish and one of three for the school this season.

Viveca Pannell, another freshman, kept pace with her sister with the national title at 130. She scored a 10-9 decision over Ottawa’s Armstrong in the final. Together, the Pannells scored 34 points that placed MIT fifth in the team standings. MIT now has three national champions in the past two national tournaments. Washington State’s depth scored plenty of points in the brackets and led the Cougars to fourth place overall with 36.5 points.

Sophia Carson, a graduate student at New Hampshire, became her school’s first national champion with a late fall over Julie Wilson of Washington State.

The finals results are as follows:

101 lbs. – Jennifer Alcott (Ottawa Arizona) def. Caley Kling (Colorado State), by fall 0:48
109 lbs. – Hermelinda Mendoza (Ottawa Arizona) def. Daniela Suttles (Grand Canyon), by fall 2:23
116 lbs. – Lyqualah Kinsey (Ottawa Arizona) def. Mia Armstrong (Texas-Arlington), by fall 1:36
123 lbs. – Lauren Stone (Florida) def. Mia Garza (Texas), by fall 1:14
130 lbs. – Viveca Pannell (M.I.T.) def. Taliyah Armstrong (Ottawa Arizona), dec. 10-9
136 lbs. – Sophia Carson (New Hampshire) def. Julie Wilson (Washington State), by fall 4:59
143 lbs. – Veloria Pannell (MIT) def. Anastacia Fucci (Colorado State), by maj. dec. 13-4
155 lbs. – Julia Mata (Ottawa Arizona) def. Leilani Frazier (Santa Rosa JC ), by fall 1:26
170 lbs. – Samantha Meyer (Big Bend CC) def. Cheyenne Williams (Ottawa Arizona), by fall 0:56
191 lbs. – Renaeh Ureste (Grays Harbor) def. Melissa Moore (Texas Tech), by fall 0:25
235 lbs. – Katie Moore (Stony Brook) def. Kali Hood (Grays Harbor), by fall 4:38

Team Standings:

1. Ottawa Arizona 120

2. Grays Harbor 80 3

3. Big Bend CC 41

4. Washington State 36.5

5. MIT 34

6. Florida 31.5

7. Grand Canyon 29

8. Colorado State 24

9. Florida A&M 23.5

10. Northeastern 22

11t. Liberty 21

11t. New Hampshire 21

11t. Western Washington 21

14. Santa Rosa JC 19

15. Texas-Arlington 17

16. Stony Brook 16

17t. Texas 12

17t. Texas Tech 12

19. UNLV 11

20t. Montclair State 8

20t. Slippery Rock 8

22. Pacific Lutheran 7.5

23. Texas A&M 6

24. UCLA 5.5

25t. Apprentice 5

25t. Puerto Rico-Mayaguez 5

25t. RPI 5

28t. Central Florida 3

28t. Fresno State 3

28t. Texas State 3

28t. Massachusetts 3

32t. East Carolina 2.5

32t. West Chester 2.5

34. Puerto Rico-Humacao 0.5

35t. Houston-Downtown 0

35t. Maine Maritime Academy 0

35t. Oregon 0

35t. Sacramento State 0

35t. San Jose State 0

Complete results from the NCWA Championships can be found at