Lady Vikings second at University Nationals

Friday, April 18, 2003
Senior Leigh Jaynes (top)

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. -- What if ...?

It would have been perfectly natural for Missouri Valley College head women's wrestling coach Mike Machholz to ask that question after looking at the final standings of the USA Wrestling University National Championships at St. Joseph, Minn., last Sunday.

There the Lady Vikings stood, in second place by a mere one point, to a Gator Wrestling Club squad which had three of Machholz's former wrestlers who could still be eligible. He could also look homeward to the handful of nationally-ranked grapplers he left behind, Valley having come out of the Can/Am Championships two weeks earlier somewhat beaten up.

Among the missing for the Lady Vikings were two wrestlers ranked No. 1 in TheMat.com's U.S. College women's poll -- junior Marianne Vollmer and sophomore Hillary Leith -- along with the likes of senior Rachel Bernardes, sophomore Brandy Golt and freshman Kelly Branham and Emilee Murphree. One of those most probably have gained the points to surpass the Gators, who won 25 to 24.

Certainly, there's no doubting the impact 48 Kilogram champion Clarissa Chun and 77 Kg winner Satrinina Vernon would have had in a Valley uniform instead of that for the first-place group. Still, the Lady Vikings had some strong performances, with senior Donell Bradley splitting her two matches at 77 Kg -- the loss a 12-3 decision to Vernon -- for second place.

Senior Tina Arnds won two of three pool matches, the only setback to Katie Downing of the Sunkist Kids -- No. 1 among U.S. Senior women -- to reach the third-place round. There Arnds claimed a 5-1 decision over junior teammate Mollie Keith -- who had only been beaten by another Valley ex, Sunkist's Kaci Lyle.

Senior Leigh Jaynes, rated first among college women, finished fifth in a tough 63 Kg class -- pinning Minnesota-Morris' Sharon Jacobson in the medal round for her second victory. The Lady Vikings' only other medalist was sophomore Erin Soli, fourth at 55 Kg by winning one of three bouts.

Valley is back on the road this weekend at the Great Plains Regional Championships at LaCrosse, Wis.

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