Kennedy Blades once wrestled in Adeline Gray’s brand of shoes.

On Saturday night, on the raised platform with a 76 kg berth in Final X up for grabs, Blades scored a technical fall over Gray, one of her greatest wrestling influences. The rising young star beat a true legend, a six-time Senior World champion and 2020 Olympic silver medalist, and was named Outstanding Wrestler

Blades, a 2019 U20 World Champion and 2022 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up, earned her first U.S. Open title in a loaded bracket that featured seven current or past Senior National Team members. She advanced to Final X and will wrestle the Senior World Team Trials Challenge winner.

All 10 of the champions on Saturday night advanced to Final X in Newark, N.J., June 10. In six weights, the winner will face a 2022 Senior World medalist in Final X. In four of the weight classes, the winner will compete against the winner of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, set for late May in Colorado Springs.

An amazing seven members of the Sunkist Kids claimed individual titles on Saturday night.

At 50 kg, 2022 U20 World silver medalist Audrey Jimenez of Sunkist Kids established herself on the Senior level scene with a 10-10 decision via criteria over No. 1 seed Alyssa Lampe, a two-time Senior World medalist. Jimenez trailed 8-0 about halfway through the second period before she locked up a leg lace and rolled Lampe to erase the differential. Jimenez advanced to Final X and will face World bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt.

In a battle of young college stars, No. 3 seed Katie Gomez of Sunkist Kids defeated No. 5 seed and King University star Samara Chavez of Team Tornado WC in a 12-2 technical fall in 3:49. Gomez became a U20 World medalist in 2022 and recently qualified for her second consecutive U20 World Team. She will face 2022 World champion Dominique Parrish at Final X.

2022 U23 World bronze medalist Alisha Howk of the Sunkist Kids followed with a title at 55 kg, beating top seed Lauren Mason of Titan Mercury WC, 8-3. Howk established her handfight and used it to her advantage as she stopped most of Mason’s offense. She will compete against the winner of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.

In an all-Sunkist Kids finals, Michaela Beck beat top seed Maya Nelson, 3-3, via criteria at 59 kg. Beck, a past U.S. Open runner-up, said it was the biggest win of her career. She will compete against the winner of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Final X.

Top seed Macey Kilty continued the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club party with a 5-1 win over No. 2 seed Emma Bruntil of the Titan Mercury WC at 65 kg. It is Kilty’s second national title in a week. She won a U23 Nationals championship last week in Spokane, Washington. She will battle 2022 World bronze medalist Mallory Velte.

2021 World bronze medalist Forrest Molinari of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club crushed her 68 kg bracket with a pin over No. 3 seed Alexandria Glaude of Titan Mercury WC/Beaver Dam RTC. Molinari finished the tournament with two pins and two technical falls. She will face the winner of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, after 2022 World champion Tamyra Mensah Stock declined her Final X berth.

At 57 kg, Xochitl Mota-Pettis of Rise RTC secured a leg lace and turned top seed Alexandria Hedrick repeatedly to secure a 10-0 technical fall. She will battle 2022 World silver medalist, 2016 Olympic champion and three-time World champion Helen Maroulis in Final X.

Two-time NAIA national champion Adaugo Nwachukwu of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club continued her steady rise of the women’s scene with a 10-8 decision over top seed Jennifer Page of Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/Titan Mercury Wrestling Club at 62 kg. Nwachukwu was a 2022 U20 World bronze medalist. She will face 2022 World silver medalist Kayla Miracle in Final X.

NAIA runner-up Joye Levendusky of New York scored a technical fall over No. 4 seed and high school senior Rose Cassioppi of New York Athletic Club, 10-0, in the second period at 72 kg. Levendusky, a 2023 NAIA runner-up for Southern Oregon, earned a Final X berth against 2022 World champion Amit Elor.

The Titan Mercury WC won the Div. I team title, followed by the Sunkist Kids. The New York Athletic Club was the Div. II team champion, followed by Army WCAP.

Senior Women’s Freestyle Results

50 kg
1st – Audrey Jimenez (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids WC), 10-10
3rd – Erin Golston (New York AC) tech. fall Sage Mortimer (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
5th – Aleeah Gould (Army WCAP) dec. Kendra Ryan (Cardinal WC), 10-4
7th – Ava Bayless (Iowa Women’s WC) tech. fall Natalie Reyna-Rodriguez (Southern Oregon RTC), 11-0

53 kg
1st – Katie Gomez (Sunkist Kids WC) tech. fall Samara Chavez (Team Tornado WC), 12-2
3rd – Felicity Taylor (Iowa Women’s WC/Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Sydney Petzinger (Cardinal WC), 11-1
5th – Melanie Mendoza (Team Tornado WC) forfeit Amy Fearnside (USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC)
7th – Avery Ashley (Firebrand WC) tech. fall Vanessa Ramirez (Army WCAP), 10-0

55 kg
1st – Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Lauren Mason (UVRTC/Titan Mercury WC), 8-3
3rd – Areana Villaescusa (Army WCAP) dec. Marissa Gallegos (Titan Mercury WC), 5-0
5th – Amani Jones (Cardinal WC) dec. Gabrielle Skidmore (Minnesota Gold/Storm), 5-2
7th – Virginia Foard (New York AC) tech. fall Ella Jauregui (California), 10-10

57 kg
1st – Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Rise RTC) tech. fall Alexandra Hedrick (USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
3rd – Amanda Martinez (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Shelby Moore (White River Hornets WC), 12-2
5th – Carolina Moreno (Arizona) fall Ashley Whetzal (Missouri), 9-8
7th – Jasmine Hernandez (Texas) tech. fall Emma Truex (Northwest WC), 10-0

59 kg
1st – Michaela Beck (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Maya Nelson (Sunkist Kids WC), 5-3
3rd – Brenda Reyna (Army WCAP) dec. Abigail Nette (Army WCAP), 9-7
5th – Sarah Savidge (Army WCAP) forfeit Lexie Basham (New York AC)
7th – Lauren Louive (New York AC) forfeit Gracie Figueroa (Titan Mercury WC)

62 kg
1st – Adaugo Nwachukwu (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Jennifer Page (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 10-8
3rd – Bridgette Duty (Army WCAP) dec. Ashlynn Ortega (New York AC), 4-4
5th – Zoe Nowicki (Bulldog WC) dec. Savannah Cosme (Sunkist Kids WC), 5-4
7th – Claire Dicugno (White River Hornets WC) dec. Amanda Hendey (Titan Mercury WC), 6-4

65 kg
1st – Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Emma Bruntil (USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC), 5-1
3rd – Maya Letona (New York City RTC) dec. Aine Drury (California), 10-7
5th – Ana Luciano (New York AC) fall Skylar Hattendorf (New York AC), 8-0
7th – Viktorya Torres (Team Tornado WC) VPO Destiny Lyng (California), 2-0

68 kg
1st – Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids WC) fall Alexandria Glaude (Beaver Dam RTC/Titan Mercury WC), 4:21
3rd – Katerina Lange (Minnesota Gold/Storm) dec. Solin Piearcy CA (Menlo WC), 5-4
5th – Chloe Ogden (North Carolina) dec. Isabella Mir (Iowa Women’s WC), 10-10
7th – Nina Makem (Minnesota Gold/Storm) fall London Houston (Cardinal WC), 2:24

72 kg
1st – Joye Levendusky (New York) tech. fall Rose Cassioppi (New York AC), 10-0
3rd – Brooklyn Hays (Minnesota Gold/Storm) dec. Marilyn Garcia (Birmingham Community Charter High School Wrestling), 9-0
5th – Kaylynn Albrecht (Wildcat Elite) inj. def. Nahiela Magee (Army WCAP)
7th – Haley Ward (MO West Championship WC) fall India Page GA (Barons Women’s WC), 10-1 3:31

76 kg
1st – Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids WC) tech. fall Adeline Gray (New York AC), 12-2
3rd – Yelena Makoyed (Titan Mercury WC) forfeit Dymond Guilford (USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC), 0-0
5th – Kylie Welker (Iowa Women’s WC/Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Tristan Kelly (Army WCAP), 10-0
7th – Ashley Lekas (Minnesota Gold/Storm) forfeit Sydnee Kimber (Bearcat WC)

Original article by Adam Engel, Special to