Who will be on the historic first U.S. Women’s Beach World Games team? Try out April 28.
Inset photo: Leigh Jaynes of the USA with coach Aaron Sieracki on the way to a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors. Background photo: Mission Beach in San Diego, which will host Beach Wrestling at the 2019 Beach World Games in October.
There have been some historic first teams in U.S. women’s wrestling history, such as the first U.S. Women’s Olympic wrestling team in 2004: Patricia Miranda (48 kg), Tela O’Donnell (55 kg), Sara McMann (63 kg) and Toccara Montgomery (72 kg)
Or the first U.S. Senior World Championships team in 1989, featuring Marie Ziegler (44 kg), Afsoon Roshanzamir (47 kg), Asia DeWeese (50 kg), Janet Trussell (53 kg) and Leia Kawai (70 kg).
So, who will be on the first U.S. Women’s Beach World Games Team, set to compete in San Diego, Calif. in October 12-13, 2019?
Four spots are up for grabs among Senior U.S. women for this team at 50 kg, 60 kg, 70 kg and Over 70 kg. The U.S. team will be determined at the Women’s Beach World Games Trials on Sunday, April 28 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.
There is some history of U.S. women wrestlers who have competed at major international events in Beach Wrestling.
Jenna Burkert, currently with the U.S. Army WCAP and a two-time Senior World Team member, won a bronze medal in Beach Wrestling at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore. Beach wrestling was an official sport at the YOG that year, and Burkert became the only U.S. athlete, male or female, to win a Beach wrestling medal,
“It was a great experience. The Youth Olympic Games, in general, was an awesome experience. I fell short in the bronze medal match in freestyle. It was time to get the next best thing, which was a Beach medal. They took it real serious there. I remember that there were a bunch of people there, because the beaches in Singapore were amazing. It was a tough competition. I grew up on Long Island, and we were always wrestling around on beaches. When I went to Northern Michigan, we did a lot of our training sessions right on Lake Superior. We would run to the beach, to do a lot of exercises and drills there,” said Burkert.
Although there is a fun element to competing in Beach wrestling, Burkert said it was very competitive.
“It is a challenging sport. I like it and its fun. It’s on the beach. You can’t complain. What is neat is that in freestyle wrestling, you depend on strength and technique. You just put two people inside a rope and on some sand, it really brings out grit,” said Burkert.
United World Wrestling has hosted Beach World Championships since the mid-2000s. Three U.S. women athletes have won World Beach bronze medals: Leigh Jaynes (Under 70 kg) in 2006, plus Bethany Harris (Over 70kg) and Tanya Miyasaki (Over 70 kg) in 2007.
Jaynes, who was a World bronze medalist in women’s freestyle in 2015 and made numerous Senior National Teams, has the unique distinction of winning Senior World Championships medals in freestyle, Beach Wrestling and Sombo.
“It is different than wrestling on the mat, in that your foothold is not the same. Your balance is a little bit different. I think it is the most fun because it is outside. We spend a lot of time in the gym, so getting to a beach area, with the sun and the sand was appealing to me,” said Jaynes.
Beach Wrestling is simple to learn and to follow for fans, something that added to her experience.
“The rules are incredibly easy to follow. When I tried out at the World Team Trials in Florida, anybody could pick up the rules. A lot of people who were walking past, just at the beach that day, would stop and watch. The rounds are a lot shorter. It’s basically just push-out and takedowns or throws,” she said.
Jaynes highly recommends other women to try Beach wrestling
“It was fun having a different form of grappling, one with a little less pressure, by nature, because of the atmosphere,” said Jaynes. “We had only two weight classes then, but now there are four, which is even better. The sand is a little bit of a neutralizer. Just try it. It’s matches. It is fun. It’s outside. You get an opportunity to win a World medal and represent the United States in this kind of new sport. Give it a try. Why not?”
Shauna Isbell-Kemp, another past U.S. Women’s Senior National Team member and the current head coach for women’s wrestling at Jamestown University, is entered in the U.S. Women’s Beach World Games Trials in Las Vegas.
“I saw it and that kind of fits my style. I am taking the Beach seriously. A big part for me to show our girls on the team that you can manage your time and train with life going on as well. In college, they have a hard time grasping that. I feel like I am an able body, am able to compete well and I am still in great shape. They will be able to watch me,” she said.
Isbell-Kemp last wrestled in women’s freestyle in 2014, but keeps in great shape. Since she has tried Beach Wrestling in training, she really looks forward to the challenge in Las Vegas, and in San Diego if she qualifies.
“I went and trained and it is so different. You have to have some strategy. I went and trained in California for it, just to get on the beach and find out what it was like. It will be really cool. That is what I am excited about, the beach wrestling. I am talking to as many people as I can to go and do it. It is a good opportunity to develop your wrestling in other ways,” she said.
United World Wrestling is making Beach Wrestling a major priority for the sport. It has created four Beach World Series events in 2019, with prize money awarded to the top four medalists in each weight class. UWW is working hard to get Beach Wrestling included in major multi-sport events, such as the new World Beach Games in San Diego. There will be more and more opportunity to participate in international Beach Wrestling.
USA Wrestling’s Associated Styles Committee decided to bring the Women’s World Beach Games Trials to the location where the most Senior-eligible women athletes are expected, which is at the U.S. Open. Senior-eligible women who plan to compete in the U.S. Open and/or Western Junior Regionals can also enter the Women’s World Beach Games Trials. Others can show up, just to wrestle in the Beach event.
Like the rules of the sport, going to the Beach World Games Trials is easy. Those women who are in Vegas can just sign up in advance or on site, and have a chance to make a U.S. World-level team.
Burkert, Jaynes and Isbell-Kemp recommend other women just give it a try. This is your chance.