Joye Levendusky - 4th Place - 152lbs
Team New York women scored 5 All-Americans in the Junior division at the 2018 Fargo National Championships on July 17th-18th. Top finishers were Riley Dalrymple (117) and senior Joye Levendusky (152), who both took 4th place.
Dalrymple also took 3rd in the Cadet tournament, making her a double All-American. Teammate Joanna Jones was also a double All-American, going 4th in Cadet and 8th in Junior at 180. Returning All-American Nia Crosdale made the podium again, placing 6th at 200 (she was 7th last year & 8th in 2016). Dominique Diaz, first time national team member, placed 8th.
This caps off a banner season and stellar finish for the New York women, who ended up with 13 Cadet All-Americans, 5 Junior All-Americans, and 2 national champions at Fargo.
“We had a lot of seniority and quiet leadership on this team,” said NY-USA Wrestling Women’s Director, Heath Macaluso. One of those leaders was one of the team captains, Joye Levendusky.
Levendusky made her way to the 3rd place match in dramatic style, including a comeback win in the Round of 16 over a tough Oregon opponent, a 3-1 win over New York teammate Kendra Cheers to advance to the All-American rounds, and a 7-5 win in the Consi Semis over a Washington opponent. Overall, she was 5-2 at Fargo.
Cheers went 3-2, going out one match from the podium.
But Joye’s dramatic story didn’t start at Fargo. It began last January in what would be the final match of her high school varsity career.
“I didn’t think I was even gonna wrestle Fargo at all,” she said.
“She tore her UCL,” explains her father Derek Levendusky, one of the NY coaches. “For a long time it looked dire, so much so that only 6 weeks ago, we thought we were heading toward Tommy John elbow surgery. This injury took away her entire spring of competition and now it was looking like it would take away the first year of her college career.” Joye will be attending McKendree University, a top-5 wrestling program in Illinois, on a wrestling scholarship.
But specialists decided to hold off and encouraged her to “try it out.” She attended a Fargo training camp in her area and all seemed well, but then the unthinkable happened when she hyper-extended her other elbow.
“I came to pick her up and she’s sitting there with ice packs on both elbows,” her father explained. “We thought she might be done. We were frustrated, though our faith is important to us as a family and we just kept saying to one another, ‘Let’s trust God.’”
Joye sat out of any intense training in the final weeks leading up to the trip with Team NY to North Dakota. Once camp began, she worked through the pain and was ready to compete.
“She was so excited for her first match,” said her father. “It had been a long time.”
She scored in 7 seconds.
“The fact that I was even able to wrestle was huge,” Joye remarked. “I felt like myself and it was great.”
Ranked #13 in the country by USA Wrestling, placing 4th was not something anyone expected, especially after not having had a full training regimen. Joye had different thoughts. “I wanted to make the top 4,” she said. “I accomplished my goal, and I’m satisfied with that.”
She’ll head out to McKendree in late August to begin training with the team.
In all, Team NY had 35 entries in the Junior tournament and only 5 made the podium, evidence of the high level of competition the girls face at Fargo.
Beloved coach Jacque Davis will be moving to Boston in the fall, and will be greatly missed by the New York women’s wrestling community.
“Jacque moving on is a horror story for us,” said NY-USAW’s Women’s Director, Heath Macaluso “We’re going to miss her a lot.”
Team NY returns home looking to a bright future with passionate leadership focused on developing young women in the sport.
“There’s so many bright young stars in New York,” added Coach Levendusky. “We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”