It was a good couple of days for the University of Jamestown's women's wrestling program.
The University of Jamestown successfully wrapped up its third year hosting the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women's Wrestling Invitational Saturday evening at Harold Newman Arena. The Jimmies ended up seventh out of the 31 competing teams with a collective total of 77 points.
"It feels good," UJ head coach Shauna Kemp said. "It's where we expected to be. The competition gets tougher every year. You always hope to keep moving up in the ranks."
The Jimmies had two wrestlers -- Sierra Talmadge and Josie Bartishofski -- power through to the semifinals.
Talmadge, a junior for Kemp, qualified to the national invite last season but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to put off her wrestling goals for another year. The change in schedules just gave the junior more time to train, develop and focus on her goal of making it to the U.S. Olympic Trials.
She fell short of that goal Saturday.
Talmadge got outwrestled 8-2 by Campbellsville University's Alexandra Castillo and ended up placing third in the 170-pound weight class. Talmadge, a Bismarck native, has only been wrestling for around five years.
"Sierra wrestled well," Kemp said. "It was a tough match against a really tough competitor. She gave it her all -- she did well."
Bartishofski, a sophomore out of Weston, Wisconsin, put up an impressive run in the 116-pound bracket. Barthishofski eventually ended up sixth in the 116-pound standings losing 10-0 to Peyton Prussin in the semifinals. Kemp said the sophomore has made great strides since her season-ending injury a year ago.
"Josie was disappointed and has some stuff to work on," Kemp said. "She's a really talented wrestler. She tore her ACL last year and so her knee's fully recovered, but there's still a lot of re-skill development that has to happen after those types of injuries."
Many on Kemp's squad are, like Bartishofski, are young and not as experienced as some other team's across the nation. Kemp said that with some more training, experience and skill development her Jimmies have all the potential to make a run at the title in the next few seasons. The Jimmies had seven athletes earn All-American status -- great for individual finishes and a great help in the team race.
"Most of the lineup is freshmen and sophomores," Kemp said. "There's a really bright future for all of these young girls. I think we'll move up a little bit every year and hopefully, in four years, we'll be on the top."
University of Jamestown director of athletics, Sean Johnson, said that while the young Jimmie squad will be pushing for a top finish, the University itself will be pushing for another year of hosting the national invite.
UJ received an initial bid in 2019 and was selected by the NAIA to host the competition in 2020 and 2021. Due to the cancellation of the event last spring due to COVID, UJ will be the host site of the 2022 contest. Johnson said UJ would like to become the permanent home of the NAIA women's wrestling invite.
"That's our absolute goal," Johnson said. "When people think of collegiate women's wrestling we want them to think of Jamestown, North Dakota, University of Jamestown and Harold Newman Arena."