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Waylands Mensah earns spot on World Team

 LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Wayland Baptist wrestler Tamyra Mensah earned a spot on the 2017 U.S. Senior World Team as she and four other Pioneers competed at the Women’s World Team Trials this weekend at the South Point Arena here.

Competing at 69 kg/152 pounds, Mensah – suiting up in the colors of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club – won two matches to get to the finals, where she defeated two-time Olympian and seven-time World Team member Elena Pirozhkova in a two-match sweep. Mensah avenged a loss to Pirozhkova from the finals of the 2017 U.S. Open and snapped Pirozhkova’s streak of nine straight U.S. World and Olympic teams.

“Tamyra got over a big mental hurdle this weekend,” Wayland coach Aaron Meister said. “She had never beaten Elena, so to dethrone her of that position and to finally beat her is the next step in Tamyra becoming a world champion.”

Meister said Mensah, a fifth-year senior from Katy, gave up the first takedown in both matches, “but because we wrestled our style we were able to come from behind, which statistically speaking is hard to do. Our game plan was to be aggressive and attack relentlessly.”

Mensah said, “It all came down to technique. (The coaches) told me to have heavy hands in the first period, and in the second period, to go hard and go fast. You have the athleticism to do it. Just go out and do it and believe in yourself,” she said.

“For her to have that focus and that mindset was great,” Meister added.

The win qualifies Mensah, a two-time WCWA national champion and the U.S. Olympic Trials champion, to become a World Team member for the first time and to compete at the World Championships later this year in Paris.

Also this weekend, sophomore Brittany Marshall placed third at 75 kg. After dropping her opener to former WBU teammate Nahiela Magee, now competing at McKendree University (Ill.), by a 12-2 count, Marshall won her next two matches by pin, including a win over two-time national champion Julia Salata, formerly with powerhouse King University (Tenn.).

“That was a big win for her,” Meister said.

Marshall then had a rematch with Magee for third place, and this time won by tech fall, 11-0.

“Brittany looked really good and really focused, and when she has that mind-set she is going to be one of the best if not the best in the country,” Meister said

The win makes Marshall a USA National Team member and qualifies her for sponsorship, Meister noted.

Wrestling at 53 kg/116.5 pounds, junior Mayra Ramirez lost her first bout to Ronna Heaton of Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, 6-0, before shutting out Kasey Baynon of Team Georgia, 10-0. Ramirez then was eliminated by Dajan Reder of Jimmie Wrestling Club, 10-4.

“It was good for Mayra to come out and get a feel for this stage at her first World Team Trials Tournament,” Meister said. “She’s done an awesome job this year, and to qualify and then win a match was great.”

Sophomore Marina Briceno and freshman Brittany Bates both placed eighth.

At 63 kg/138.75 pounds, Briceno fell by 11-0 tech fall in the first round to Jennifer Page of Colorado Springs before bowing in the second round, 10-0, to Alexis Porter of NYAC. At 60 kg/132 pounds, Bates came up short to Carla Ponce of Aries Wrestling Club in the first round, 9-5, then was eliminated, 13-2, by Chloe Spencer of Choker Wrestling Club.

Also in Vegas this weekend, Meister and WBU assistant coach Chad Cook placed third in the U.S. Open Masters Division.

Both Meister, competing in the “B” division, and Cook, in the “A” division, lost early matches and had to work their way through the consolation brackets.

Cook fell in his first match before winning three in a row, while Meister won his first outing, lost his second, then won three in a row.

Overall, Meister called it “an awesome trip all-around. I’m proud of how everyone came out here and competed.

“I like our outlook for the future.”

Wayland wrestlers will compete next month at Body Bar Nationals in Irving.