If this weekend’s U.S. Open competition says anything about the state of women’s freestyle wrestling in the United States, expect a heavy Hawkeye presence at this summer’s world championships.
Three members of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club — Alli Ragan, Kayla Miracle and Forrest Molinari — won U.S. Open titles at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas on Friday night. Doing so set each of them up to make a run at the Senior World Team in a few months.
Perhaps the most impressive part was the collective domination displayed by the group.
Consider these numbers: The trio went a combined 11-0 with three pins and six technical falls. They collectively outscored their opponents 87-6. Only two matches in which they competed went the full distance between Thursday and Friday.
Ragan, a six-time Senior World Team member, rolled to her third U.S. Open crown, and first since 2014. After a first-round pin, she won three-straight technical falls by scores of 10-0, 12-2 and 10-0 to win at 59 kilograms (130 pounds).
Her finals match came against Abby Nette, a 2019 Women’s College Wrestling Association national champion from Emmanuel College. Ragan won by technical superiority in 4 minutes, 32 seconds.
Miracle won her second-straight U.S. Open crown in similar domination at 62 kilos (136 pounds). She recorded a 36-second pin in her first match, then won back-to-back-to-back matches by 10-0 technical fall. She outscored her four opponents by a combined 34-0.
Molinari’s run to first at 65 kilos (143 pounds) was perhaps the most impressive. Her bracket featured just eight wrestlers with loads of accomplishments. After a first-round win, Molinari, a 2018 Senior World Team member, defeated Macey Kilty, a 2018 Junior world silver medalist, by a 7-3 decision, then beat Maya Nelson, a 2017 Junior world champ, in the finals by a 5-1 score.
The results put all of them one step closer to making the Senior World Team. That process continues over the next couple of months, and if they keep wrestling like they did this weekend, all three will end up trading their black-and-gold gear for some in red, white and blue.
► MEET THE WOMEN OF THE HAWKEYE WRESTLING CLUB
- Inside Alli Ragan's rise from prep standout to two-time world silver medalist
- Meet Forrest Molinari, one of America's best women's freestyle wrestlers
- 'Iowa is home': Kayla Miracle eyeing World Team with Hawkeye Wrestling Club
- Why Michaela Beck skipped college to chase her bigger wrestling dreams
- Lauren Louive seeks coaching opportunity following competitive career
HWC's Louive finishes 4th
Lauren Louive was the fourth Hawkeye Wrestling Club women’s freestyler competing this weekend. The bracket fell that she could’ve met Ragan in the finals at 59 kilos. Instead, she posted a 2-2 record and finished fourth.
After a first-round bye, Louive recorded a first-period technical fall over Jen Pitassi to reach the semifinals, against Nette. Louive trailed 2-0 when Nette scored on a low-single, then turned Louive twice for an 8-0 lead. Another takedown ended the match in the first period.
Louive bounced back with a wrestleback win over Iowa native Megan Black to move into the top four, but dropped a 2-2 decision on criteria against Lauren Mason, a sophomore at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
By finishing fourth, Louive qualified for the world team trials next month, but her path to a world team just got a little bit tougher, as she’ll likely have to beat everybody who beat her this weekend to give herself a chance.
Iowa natives Black, Watters take 5th
A pair of well-known Iowa girls’ wrestlers also competed out in Las Vegas.
Megan Black, an Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont graduate who was the first and only girls’ wrestler to win a medal at the Iowa high school state wrestling tournament, took fifth at 59 kilos. She lost her first match, to Mason, then won twice in the wrestlebacks to move into the top six. After losing to Louive, Black pinned Maya Porter to take fifth.
Rachel Watters, a Ballard alum, finished fifth at 72 kilos (158 pounds). She won her first two matches to reach the semifinals, then lost back-to-back matches to fall to the fifth-place bout. There, she won by forfeit over Alexis Gomez.
By virtue of finishing fifth, both Black and Watters qualified for the world team trials next month. Watters reached Final X last summer, coming just one win shy of making the Senior World Team.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.