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Mensah national champ again; WBU 4th

OKLAHOMA CITY – Tamyra Mensah secured another national championship and Wayland Baptist’s women’s wrestlers matched the program’s all-time best team finish of fourth when the WCWA National Championships wrapped up here Saturday.

Mensah, a senior from Katy, was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler by WCWA coaches after she breezed through the 155-pound weight class, winning her first three matches by pin and her last two by tech fall and a combined score of 22-1.

???????Mensah won her first national title two years ago before taking time off to train for the Olympics, becoming the U.S. Trials champion. Wayland coach Aaron Meister said Mensah did a tremendous job “serving two masters” while wrestling for Wayland and USA Wrestling.

“It was awesome,” Meister said. “Tamyra has been the face of this program for five years now. It was nice of her to come back and lead this team the way she has. She did a lot of coaching this past year, leading by example, and the team accepted that leadership.”

???????Meister called Mensah’s Most Outstanding Wrestler recognition “a fete within itself. She’s done a fabulous job.”

As for the team’s overall finish, Meister was pleased. Ranked seventh going into the competition, the Pioneers produced 142½ points, 11½ behind third-place Campbellsville (Ky.). Simon Fraser, Canada, was second with 170½ while King (Tenn.) won the team title with 187½.

“I’m very happy with our performance,” said the coach, calling it the best in the history of the program. Wayland also placed fourth four years ago, but Meister said this year’s field was much larger and much more competitive.

“This is the best team I’ve coached. If we would have had this performance back then we would have had top three and brought home a team trophy.”

???????Meister said Wayland hit a snag when senior Kierra Boyce, wrestling at 191, was injured in her consolation semifinal and had to default that match as well as the fifth-place match.

“Those things aren’t in our control,” Meister said.

Boyce still finished as an all-American by placing sixth; the top eight finishers are deemed all-Americans, of which Wayland had seven.

Brittany Marshall, a sophomore, wound up in fourth place at 170 pounds, winning her consolation semifinal by fall then losing the third-place match the same way.

Freshman Rozlynn Vasquez, at 101, took fifth place as she won her final match by pin.

Sophomore Jathiya Isaac, at 116, also was fifth as she lost a close 6-4 decision in the consolation semis before winning her last outing in dominant fashion by tech fall, 10-0.

Junior Mayra Ramirez, at 109, and senior Tarkyia Mensah, at 123, placed sixth. Both dropped their last matches by two-point decisions, 4-2 and 7-5, respectively.

???????Meister said several Pioneers rose to the occasion, not only this weekend but all season.

“We had people step up, like Rozlynn, Mayra and Jathiya. Those are girls at the beginning of the year wouldn’t have been all-Americans, but through hard work, practice and a lot of sacrifice improved and finished the year as all-Americans.”

Like Tamyra, Meister said seniors Tarkyia Mensah and Boyce “also have been great for this team. They helped build this foundation of a nationally-competitive program.

“It’s been a fun season, and to finish as we did I’m just very grateful for everyone who was a part of it because it was really a team effort. We just continued to improve. They stayed together as a team to the point where we are now.”

The women’s team next competes at University Nationals back in Oklahoma City March 24 and 25, while the WBU men compete Feb. 18 at the NAIA Central Qualifier in Ottawa, Kan.