Morgan, one of two female wrestlers in the Bi-City area, spent a year
practicing with her team before wrestling in her first meet earlier
this season. She laughs when she thinks back about it.
Nerves kicked in and her
opponent pinned her in about 30 seconds. But the season began to get
better with every meet after, something else that makes her smile.
“I got more
confident,” said Morgan, who wrestles in the 160-pound weight
class. “Then I started getting more energetic and started
shooting more and getting more take downs.”
Kendrick athletic director and
wrestling coach Collins Jones said he was surprised when Morgan asked
to join the team last season but was ultimately won over by her work
“I was reluctant at
first, but she seemed serious about doing it,” Jones said.
“There are some sports that I think can be coed. And then are
some sports that I think are meant to be unisex. This was one of them.
But she came through with her offseason training and her dedication to
it, and that convinced me.”
Morgan, who may sit out at
today’s Class AAA Area 2 meet with a strained back, joined
the Kendrick wrestling team last season and made her first meet
appearance earlier this season. Her 1-9 record hardly is indicative of
her improvement, which Jones said has been “300
percent” since she first came to practice.
“I think if there was
such a thing as girls wrestling teams here, she’d be
undefeated,” Jones said. “Her record
doesn’t really show how well she can wrestle.”
Morgan said breaking into a
typically male-dominated sport was a little intimidating at first, but
that feeling did not last long. Her teammates quickly accepted her
— and did not take it easy when practicing against her, she
said — and her male opponents have been just as open to
wrestling a girl.
“Her opponents have
all treated her with respect or courtesy,” Jones said.
“They didn’t really look at her as a female; they
just saw her as another wrestler.”
County’s Jasmine Brunson is the Bi-City’s other
While Webster Schroeder senior Tanya Kusse wrestled
down on the mat, Kailey George watched the varsity match move from one
overtime period to the next, while up in the top row of bleachers at
George, a junior, are not friends. But George watched Kusse at four
meets during this high school wrestling season and watched part of the
119-pounder's progression as the only girl in the Webster Schroeder
worked really hard," George said. "She exercises daily, and lost a lot
"It's hard to wrestle guys and get respect from
them. With a girl, it's even worse. I think it's great, I have a lot of
respect for her. I know I wouldn't do well."
as physical as any sport, an aspect displayed when George and others
watched Kusse trade distracting taps to the head with Doyle to set up
takedown attempts that night. The trend more than 10 years ago was that
more girls were entering the sport, and it is still on the way up.
At least 17
girls were on rosters of Section V varsity, JV or modified rosters this
winter, slightly up from 11 during the 1999-2000 season. According to
the National Federation of State High Schools Associations, 6,025 girls
wrestled on high school teams in 2008-09, more than 21/2 times the
number of participants a decade ago.
wrestling is not an anomaly anymore," Irondequoit coach and New
York/USA Wrestling chairman Lou Lombardo said. "It has been accepted in
the wrestling community, rightfully so, for these athletes.
to control their weight, monitor their nutrition, work in the weight
room and in the wrestling room (in practice). The rules don't change
because you are a man or a woman."
becomes easier as more girls go through the year-round grind while
training, and in some cases, have success.
Emme Conway was a Section V class tournament
runner-up more than a decade ago at Attica. Warsaw sophomore Hanna
Grisewood is fourth in armdrag.com's current Section V Division II or
small schools rankings of 96-pound wrestlers with a record of 37 wins
and seven losses.
this season, probably is a long shot to win her weight class at the
Section V Class AA Championships this weekend.
It can be argued that Kusse has held her own during
her first and only varsity season in what is described by coaches as a
very competitive Monroe County league.
recognized as the first girl to earn all-league honors after she
finished sixth at the Monroe County Championships. Canandaigua
officials said that she was the first girl to reach a weight division
final at the school's Robert Bradshaw Memorial Tournament. And Kusse,
headed to Lindenwood University in Missouri, does not have much company
when it comes to girls who were given scholarships to wrestle in
impressed with her," Farmington resident Lauren Lamb said. "She has a
great attitude and great skills."
Lamb, who grew up in Okemos, Mich., near Lansing,
wrestled boys at the varsity level for four years before she became a
six-time women's national champion. She followed two older brothers
into wrestling at the age of 6, and wrestled in more than 100 matches
for her high school team.
attended Cornell, where she trained with the men's team, since there
was no equivalent for women.
"It's a totally different story now," Lamb said.
"There's more opportunity now, in college, to go to the Olympic
Training Center. Hawaii, Michigan and Texas have separate high school
decided that she wanted to wrestle in college, she found 14 schools
that had women's programs. She chose Lindenwood, a private school of
about 5,000 students located outside of St. Louis, over King College in
Tennessee after she met some of the current team members during an
official visit in the fall.
some schools that have wrestling (for women) but just as a club sport,"
Kusse said. "I was surprised that there were any, I thought maybe one
or two in California.
liked it, it felt right. They have a countless number of classes in the
science department and in the fields I'm interested in, biology or
to try an individual sport as an eighth-grader. Jim Kusse, Tanya's
father, suggested wrestling.
"I've told her that she's been rough and tumble with
the boys in the neighborhood," Jim Kusse said. "She said, 'Do you think
I can do that?' I said, all you can do is ask if you can try out.
were a little bit wary, but when she showed what she can do, they
completely accepted her."
Dean Salvaggio, in his 15th season as the Webster
Schroeder varsity wrestling coach, was impressed with Kusse's
athleticism while on the modified team.
then the Schroeder modified coach, assured Salvaggio that Kusse would
not eventually disappear from the program and quit.
"We've had four or five who kind of fizzled out,"
Salvaggio said. "It's survival. A lot of kids quit because it's too
survived. It takes a special person to make it through. It's not easy
to be a wrestler. She's a high honor-roll student, dedicated, a
hard-worker and fast-learner. I'll take that any day."
beginning as a freshman, wrestled on the Webster Schroeder JV for three
years. She peeled away more than 30 pounds during that time, from 150
as a freshman to 140 the next high school season, to 135 then 130 as a
junior, to 125 and finally 119 by the start of this season. Her younger
brother Harley, wrestles at 135 pounds for Schroeder.
"I knew I
could keep up (with boys), even though our physiques are different, but
if I wanted to stay in the sport I had to lose weight," Kusse said.
"The main thing is endurance. You have no idea how tiring it can be.
You are gasping for breath, and you have two more minutes to go.
train, train and train more, but it's a great feeling. After practice,
it was straight to the gym. My brother and I, we both have better
bodies because of it."
her weight down to 116 pounds last summer, and finished third in that
weight class during the Cadet/Junior National Championships in Fargo,
clear to Salvaggio that Kusse, was a candidate to fill an anticipated
hole in the Webster Schroeder lineup at 119. Salvaggio even moved Kusse
to the varsity at the end of the last high school season to wrestle at
125 pounds during sectionals. She finished 0-2.
the possibility that another wrestler would challenge Kusse for the
position in a wrestle-off, but no one did.
Fairport junior Kyle Goodrich has wrestled and
defeated Kusse at least twice.
"I know some
people get psyched out about it," Goodrich said. "She has a good
understanding of it.
"She's tough on top (in position of control), really
strong with her legs. She can compete with most guys, and always goes
hard, never gives up."
like to show other girls what wrestling is about. She plans to organize
and recruit for a beginners-level clinic and tournament at the end of
this month or next, as part of her senior year project at Webster
is a great sport," she said. "It makes you feel good about yourself, it
definitely brings your self-esteem up.
I knew I was going to keep at it. It was tough, but sticking it out and
hard work definitely pays in more ways than one."
Three standouts seek two regional berths
Ripon’s Triplett among 165-lb. favorites
By Jagada Chambers
Feb. 5, 2010 2:39 a.m.
A handful of area girl wrestlers have put together quality seasons and
a few are hoping to close things out with strong performances in the
Sac-Joaquin Section Girls Wrestling Invitational Tournament at McNair
High in Stockton.
Standouts Hailey Owens and Julianna Triplet of Ripon High along with
Sarah Phillips of East Union open tournament action today.
Triplett is coming off of an impressive second-place finish at the
165-pound weight class during the CIF Northern California Regional
Tournament Jan. 16.
“Last year Julianna won it as a freshman, so we kind of expect
her to do it again,” Ripon head coach Glenn White said.
“She kind of had an unfortunate incident at state (Jan. 30) and
got disqualified, but I think she’ll bounce back and do well this
Phillips has made the most of her first season at the high school
level, garnering a pair of tournament championships and five top-3
finishes. Phillips is carrying on the legacy paved by Manteca Buffaloes
graduate and cousin Samantha Phillips. Samantha was a state champion
during her career, giving Sarah instant legitimacy on her surname alone.
“The expectations were high for Sarah, she was in the paper
before she was on the team” East Union head coach A.J. Reindel
said. “I’d like to take a lot of the credit and say I
taught her and I made her this good, but no, she is just tough.
“She’s physically tough, mentally tough; she has a lot of
the stuff a wrestling coach looks for but can’t teach.”
Phillips will try and continue her dominance thru the 98-poundd
Ripon’s Owens will battle the entrants in the 114-poundd weight
class. Like the other two wrestlers, Owens has earned her share of
success on the year, but a tournament victory would be the ideal
conclusion to her sophomore season.
“Hailey has really improved this season,” White said of
Owens. “She wrestled pretty well last year at the Invitational,
but we’re hoping that she will be able to break through and place
Weston Ranch High standout Sara Leon will not participate in the
two-day tourney due to injury, bringing a season where she worked
herself into a No. 2 section ranking to a sad end.
“It is really heartbreaking for the young lady,” Cougar
head coach Pat King said. “She has been in there every day, has
not missed a practice, and she works as hard as any guy in our room.
“She has improved 10-fold this year, so it was hard to see her
miss the final tournament.”
The tournament will solely feature the top wrestlers in the
section, giving the girls a well-deserved center stage for the entire
wrestling community to enjoy.
“These girls work just as hard as the guys, if not harder than
some of them,” Reindel said. “They have been wrestling boys
and girls all year, so for her to get into a tournament that is
section-wide, but just for the girls, it’s what she
POSTED: Thursday, Feb. 04, 2010
wrestlers will take their first steps toward Mat Classic XXII and a
spot at the Tacoma Dome this weekend as the postseason officially gets
under way with sub-regional matches.
Class 2A schools and all area girls' wrestlers will be staying close
to home with Squalicum hosting the two-day 2A Sub-Regional beginning in
the evening on Friday, Feb. 5, and all day on Saturday. Championship
matches should start around 4 p.m. on the second day.
The top four placers in each weight class in the boys' competition
earn a spot at the 2A Regional on Feb. 13 at Cedarcrest High School in
Duvall. The top four girls' wrestlers will be headed to Sedro-Woolley
next weekend for the Region One girls' tournament.
Class 3A schools Ferndale, Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon will have
a little farther to travel. Those teams are off to Everett High School
for a sub-regional. The top four wrestlers in each weight head to
Yakima next weekend for their regional tourney.
In Class 1A, the majority of the Nooksack Valley and Meridian
wrestling teams will have to wait another week to get their first taste
of the postseason. Those schools don't have a sub-regional tournament
this year and instead will hold a regional tournament on Feb. 13 at
Bellevue Christian School.
A few area wrestlers will be heading to Friday Harbor on Saturday to
try and qualify for the regional tourney, however. Those matches start
Once they reach the regional, it could be a tough road to state.
Only the top three placers in each weight class from the 1A regional
tournament will advance to the state tournament. Fourth place finishers
become state alternates.
By David Arno and Mike Jones
After three months of meets nearly every
weekend, the wrestling season is nearing the end. But not before the
local grapplers make an appearance at the District 20-5A Tournament at
Kingwood Park today and Saturday.
“Our kids finished up the season real strong,” Conroe coach
Jeremy Horan said. “We always strive to do our best and peak at
the end of the year and we’ve had some of our best results the
last few weeks.”
Conroe boys in the mix to advance to regionals include Lance Jefferson
(180-pound class; made regionals last year), Patrick Webber
(heavyweight), Alonzo Sanchez (160), Ryan Pranzino (125) and Sam Glover
(189). Jefferson won his last tournament, at Klein Collins.
On the girls side, Brittany Sawyers, who finished second in district
last year and ended up making it to state, will be going for gold in
the 102-pound division.
a good chance to do very well,” Horan said. “She has a good
chance at winning her weight class.”
Other girls who are in the mix are Alex Powell (119; second in district
last year), Sam McConnell (138; won division at Klein Collins
Tournament) and Sheila Trevino.
“I think the girls have a chance to be in the mix for finishing
in the top three teams or better at district,” Horan said.
“We’re looking forward to the district meet. It should be
really fun,” Oak Ridge coach Mike Morgan said. “It should
be fun for people to watch – there’s going to be some good
wrestling, especially once it gets to the semifinals when the best
wrestlers are left.”
The district alignment for wrestling differs from how it is for the
other sports since not every school has a wrestling team.
Although District 20-5A is large even for wrestling, consisting of Oak
Ridge, The Woodlands, College Park, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood Park,
Huntsville, Klein, Klein Collins, Klein Oak and Klein Forest, most of
the teams in the district have met up before in meets throughout the
“District should be a tough tournament,” College Park coach
David Barrett said. “There are a lot of good schools, and a good
number of state qualifiers have come out of our district the last few
In the meet, there is a team score and the top two wrestlers in each
weight category will advance to the Region III meet the following
weekend, on Feb. 12-13 at Allen High School, north of Dallas.
Region III consists of mostly schools from the Houston area, but also
includes many teams from Dallas.
“We’ve seen some of the other teams from our region at a
few meets this year. Some of the Dallas schools were at the Cy-Fair
Tournament at the Berry Center,” Morgan said. “Our region
is so good and so competitive that if you get out of it, you have a
good chance to place at state.”
“Allen is great, and Klein is right behind them in the region,
but I think we’re right there with them,” The Woodlands
coach Michael Harris said. “Our region is so big, with the most
competition ˜– I think it’s the best region in the
state. It’s tougher to get to state coming from our region than
it is from any other one.”
With the win-or-go-home nature of district, this is a time that the
wrestlers have to focus as they prepare for the meet.
“We’re feeling good. The kids are a bit nervous, though,
which is a good thing. It’s a good nervous – I like
it,” Harris said. “There’s less fooling around in
practice and it helps them keep their game faces on.”