LEBANON, Ill. – Eighth-ranked Menlo College Women's Wrestling made the cross-country trek to Illinois to compete in one of the biggest women's wrestling tournaments of the season on Saturday. Jet lag was nowhere to be found as the Oaks placed 10 wrestlers in the ever-competitive event to finish second overall as a team. #2 McKendree took home top honors while #3 Campbellsville finished third just behind the Oaks.
Hiba Salem continued to dominate her opponents at 101 pounds as she was the only Oak to take home top honors at the event. Salem went a perfect 3-0 on the afternoon picking up a pair of decision victories to advance to the finals. In the finals, a motivated Salem notched an impressive 10-0 tech fall win over Juliana Olivo of Lindenwood-Belleville to take home the top honors in her weight class.
Cady Chessin and Iman Kazem were Menlo's next highest placing finishers, both earning second place finishes at 116 and 155 pounds respectively. Chessin mowed down her opponents through the first three rounds winning by pin, tech fall and decision before drawing Amy Fearnside from University of Jamestown in the finals. Fearnside, the #2 ranked wrestler at 109 pounds, handed Chessin an 11-0 loss but Chessin still scored a solid total of team points and earned a place on the podium with a second place finish.
Kazem received a first round by then recorded back to back wins via pin over Kenya Henderson of Lindenwood-Belleville and Kaylee Foster of Southern Illinois. In the semifinal round she earned a 6-4 decision win over Southwestern Oregon CC 6-4 to set up an epic clash with Niauni Hill in the finals. Hill, ranked second at 155 pounds, and Kazem, ranked fourth, battled it out for the duration with Hill eventually earning a razor-thin 3-2 victory over Menlo's Kazem.
Freshman Solin Piearcy had a great showing as well, finishing third at 136 pounds. Piearcy won via tech fall in her first match and followed that up with a 4-3 decision win over Alyssa Batiste to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Piearcy won a 10-0 tech fall before having that result turned around on her in the semi finals courtesy of eventual champion Koral Sugiyama of Campbellsville. Piearcy ran off her next two matches to earn a place on the podium winning via 10-0 tech fall and a 4-1 decision.
Menlo's remaining placers included: Autumn Pacheco (7th, 109 pounds), Melanie Cordero (6th at 130 pounds), Dionnica Tolliver (7th, 130 pounds), Marilyn Garcia (7th, 143 pounds), Rachael Chinn (4th, 143 pounds) and Precious Bell (4th, 170 pounds).
In total Menlo went 44-65 in its matches on the weekend, good for a 68% winning percentage. The Bearcat Open was Menlo's final tune up before a trip to Oklahoma City for the WCWA Nationals on Feb. 10. The two-day event will conclude what has already been a remarkably successful 2016-17 season for women's wrestling.