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Girls wrestling: Wolves send 2 to state tourney
Two Wolves are bound for the Mat Classic girls state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Sophia Cornell (106 pounds) and Kaylee Ditlefsen (130), both juniors, took third and second respectively in their weight classes at the girls’ district tournament in Steilacoom on Feb. 15.
Their high finishes earned them berths into the state tournament this Friday.
Cornell, a first-timer at state, faces off with Jessica Eakins of Washougal, who went 1-2 at state in 2013, and Ditlefsen faces Chloe Spencer of Ephrata, who did not compete at state last year.
Ditlefsen went 0-2 at state in 2012 and placed sixth at regionals in 2013.
Coach Bill Schroepfer said he couldn’t be happier than a coach could be.
“(Cornell and Ditlefsen) were turning a lot of heads with their matches,” he said.
At districts, Ditlefsen went 2-1 by pinning Marissa Smith of Rogers High School in 1:19 and Maggie Cox of Spanaway in 1:29 before losing to Belen Simpson of Steilacoom by a tech fall 17-2 for the championship.
Ditlefsen lost to Simpson last week at sub-districts but had the goal to not get pinned, be tied-up and put her all into the match. When Ditlefsen made her second pin before the championship, she jumped up and couldn’t hold herself back from crying tears of joy.
“It was the most amazing feeling to know I was in the finals again and I had my spot for sure as first or second going into state,” she said.
Cornell went 3-1 by pinning Becca Dillon of Emerald Ridge in 1:46 but lost to second place finisher Abby Humphreys of Rogers High School by pin in 50 seconds. She persevered by pinning Sophia Lamarr of Fife in 2:43 and Ana Sanchez of Federal Way by pin 2:05.
Cornell said she was totally surprised to find herself going to state.
“It still doesn’t feel real. It’s so extremely awesome and such a wonderful honor to have earned my way to the Dome,” she said. “I will be happy with any outcome at state but placing or taking champion would be even better. After my match Kaylee hugged me with tear-filled eyes and muttered words I couldn’t ever have imagined — “We’re going to state.”
Schroepfer said the girls’ first matches should be winnable.
“But then the wrestle factor at the Dome kicks in. It can be intimidating to wrestle in the Dome. The seats are packed and there’s 24 matches going on at once,” he said.
“The second matches will be pretty tough but we have tough kids and it’ll be interesting to see how they do. It’ll be knockdown fights to the end.”
Cornell said she’s going to keep doing what she’s been doing to prepare all season.
“My game plan is always to size up my opponent and wrestle from there,” she said. “I generally like to tie up, snap down and attempt a shot. Each match is different though, so you just have to keep adjusting.”
Ditlefsen echoed this.
“I need to do what one of my coaches, Len Borchers, always has said, ‘Practice makes permanent.’ I just need to practice everything I know and condition to keep in shape before Friday,” she said.
Teammates’ state bids
Fellow state hopeful Alma Mendoza (118), a freshman, went 1-3 at districts while battling the flu. She lost her first match narrowly to Xochithl Suarez of Kent Meridian 8-7 but in the in consolation she pinned Vanessa Williams of Vashon Island in 35 seconds. She lost to fourth place finisher Erin Redford of White River 6-3 and for fifth place lost in a rematch with Suarez 6-3.
Schroepfer said on a healthy day Mendoza definitely would have done better.
“She was disappointed and she knows she can do much better but she’s already looking forward to next year already,” he said.
He plans to enroll Mendoza in the folk-style state championship in the Dome this weekend, too. She’ll also match up with Cornell this week to ready for the weekend tournaments.
Two boys, Royhon Agostine (132), senior, and Nathan Alison (220), sophomore, were set as alternates for the 2A regional tournament in Hockinson but spots did not open up for them to compete.
Coach Charles Drabek said they did stay and watch some of the tournament where Olympic League competitors Adrian Mendoza of Olympic took first at 132 and Kyla LaFritz of Port Angeles at 220.
“Our league just crushed them, which validates it a little bit. We had a tough league to get through,” he said. “Royhon knew he could’ve been competing there. The two guys he lost to were in the finals.”
Looking at the season, where the Wolves did not win a head-to-head meet, Drabek said the team seems excited to continue on with several participating in freestyle wrestling and signing up for camps and training in the offseason.
“I think we’ll come in next year and hit the ground running,” he said.
“Especially if we can get those freshman running and a decent class of eighth-graders coming up, we’ll be able to compete.”