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UJ set to host NAIA Women's Wrestling Invite this weekend

The University of Jamestown will host the fourth annual NAIA women's wrestling Invite March 11-12.

NAIA women's wrestling tournament
Two collegiate women wrestlers compete at Harold Newman Arena as part of the first NAIA Women's Wrestling Invitational at Harold Newman Arena on March 16, 2019. The University of Jamestown has been awarded to host the invitational for the next two years. John M. Steiner / The Sun
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The No. 1 thing University of Jamestown athletic director, Sean Johnson, is excited about when looking at the upcoming NAIA Women's National Wrestling Invitational is that there is no snow in the forecast.

"Two days before we were supposed to start competition in 2019, we had three feet of snow and high winds so that caused quite a logistical challenge for us," UJ Athletic Director Sean Johnson said.

"2019 was a great example of the determination of our staff, of our community to make sure that this thing happened no matter what. That says a lot about the city of Jamestown and the state of North Dakota."

While there isn't any snow in the forecast this year, the community effort that has been put into the 2022 Women's Wrestling NAIA National Championships is no less than it was three years ago.

The University of Jamestown is set to welcome 35 teams and about 330 women wrestlers to Newman Arena this weekend for the season-ending invite. The invite is set to begin Friday at 9 a.m. while the championship day is slated for Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

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There are no fan capacity limits. Face masks are not required to be worn by spectators.

naia womens wrestling tournament 130 lb final 031221
Bridgette Duty, top, of the University of the Cumberlands wrestles Angela Vitiritti of Campbellsville during the 130-pound championship of the 2021 NAIA Women's Wrestling Invitational at Harold Newman Arena on the University of Jamestown campus Saturday, March 13. John M. Steiner / The Sun

"We have a lot of people coming to town and we're really grateful to all of our partners in the community and here on campus that have come together to make this event happen," Johnson said.

"Friday will be a busy day — we're going to have some really big brackets but (Jimmie head coach) Shauna Kemp (Isbell) and the people from the NAIA have done a tremendous job putting things together. I have total confidence that things will run smoothly."

2022 will mark the first year both team champions, Menlo College (2019) and Campbellsville University (2021) will be competing in the same arena since 2019 as Menlo missed the competition last season.

No teams competed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The goal when we first put in a bid to host this event, was that we wanted to be the home of NAIA women's wrestling," Johnson said.
It's only fitting that the home of NAIA women's wrestling has one of the best teams in the nation,

UJ will be looking for its team to crack back into the top-10 teams. Last year, at the national invite, the Jimmies placed seventh out of the 31 competing teams. In 2019, the team finished third out of 20 competing teams.

The Jimmies are in a good position to make some things happen for their team. Just two weeks ago, UJ claimed its fourth-straight Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Championship.

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The Jimmies finished with 180 points while Hastings College finished up as runners-up with 164.5 points and Midland University placed third with 163. Six first-place finishers and 12 top-eight placers helped UJ to the top spot.

Samantha Weeks (109 pounds), Arianna Marrufo (116), Josie Bartishofski (123), Allie Baudhuin (130), Sierra Talmadge (170) and Kelly LaCost (191) won their brackets.

Bartishofski won at 116 and Marrufo at 123 last year, while Baudhuin, Talmadge, and LaCost repeated as champions. Weeks was also a winner in 2020 at the 109-pound mark.

Marrufo, Talmadge, LaCost, Baudhuin, Bartishofski, Luisita Jara and Rayana Sahagun were named All-Americans at the conclusion of the 2021 national invite.

Talmadge, a North Dakota native, was the top-placer for the Jimmies at last season's national invite. The fifth-seed going into the 170-pound championships, Talmadge wound up placing third.

She lost an 8-2 decision to top seed Alexandra Castillo of Campbellsville (Ky.) in the semifinals, then pinned seventh seed Jennifer Curry of Baker (Kan.) in the consolation semifinals.

Talmadge won a 3-3 decision over third seed Hunter Robinson of Grand View (Iowa), coming back from a 3-0 deficit after the first period.

"I would like to place in the top eight again this year," Talmadge said. "My other goal is just to wrestle my heart out since this is my last year. This will be the end product of all the training I have ever done."

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naia womens wrestling tournament 155 lb final two 031221
Sienna Ramirez, top, of Southern Oregon controls Baker's Morgan Mayginnes during the 155-pound championship of the 2021 NAIA Women's Wrestling Invitational at Harold Newman Arena on the University of Jamestown campus Saturday, March 13. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Talmadge is a fifth-year senior for the Jimmies and had only wrestled for one year prior to committing to Kemp's (Isbell) roster.

"I didn’t start wrestling until my senior year of high school. I wrestled on the boys' team after the head coach at Legacy high school, Lars Jacobsen, encouraged me to join the team," Talmadge said.

"He told me that women’s wrestling was starting to gain more popularity and that I may have a chance to get a college scholarship. Doing sports in college was always an interest to me so I decided to try it for that one year."

Talmadge said she wanted to wrestle in college because she has always had a passion for athletics and thought it would be fun to be a part of a team while doing something different than a lot of her prep school peers.

The Jimmie fifth-year senior is well acquainted with non-traditional type sports as both her parents rodeoed at the collegiate level. Talmadge said she wants to provide younger girls — and one day her own children — the same level of inspiration that her parents gave her.

She's well on her way.

"I think that I have proven how tough North Dakota girls are," Talmadge said. "We work hard and don’t give up. When I first started wrestling in college I hardly knew how to get a takedown but through hard work, determination and good coaching I have been able to accomplish more than I ever thought I could when I started."

The girls of North Dakota aren't the only ones who work hard.

Johnson commended the entire community of Jamestown for its dedication to running the national-level event every spring.

"It's a long list of people that you have to put together to make this event successful," Johnson said. "We're really grateful to all of those people and are excited to host again."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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