Girls’ wrestling has come into its own at Liberty Bell High School, with the team getting a dedicated head coach.
Senior Shelby White and freshman Mariah Paz are both strongly committed to the sport this winter, coach Jason Newman said at an early preseason practice on Nov. 26.
They also have lofty goals for themselves and for Liberty Bell’s wrestling tradition.
“Our school hasn’t put a girl into the state tournament,” Newman said. “Our goal is to get both of these girls into state.”
Girls compete for a state berth against wrestlers from all classifications — even girls in the largest, 4A schools. Boys, on the other hand, compete only within the 1B and 2B classifications.
Only the top four girl wrestlers in all of eastern Washington at each weight class make it to state. White went to regionals at 130 pounds as a sophomore and fell just one match short of qualifying for the Mat Classic in Tacoma. She opted for the cheer squad last winter but returned to wrestling for her senior year.
White said she started wrestling when she was 4 years old. Her teammate, Paz, started in fourth grade and has worked before with coach Newman, who prior to this year had been the junior high wrestling coach for the past eight or nine years. Paz will wrestle at 100 or 105 pounds, Newman said.
The girls won’t have any meets at home and will travel great distances to match up with wrestlers from some of the best girls’ programs in the state. The schedule includes tournaments at Warden High School and Othello High School, two “top-tier” schools for girls’ wrestling, Newman said.
“That’s where we have to travel to get the exposure, to see what’s out there for competition,” he said.
The girls open the season Wednesday (Dec. 4) at the Okanogan Jamboree and Saturday (Dec. 7) at the Ladycat Kickoff Classic at Eastmont High School.
The three boys who took part in practice on Nov. 26 were all “super-dedicated,” fourth-year coach Jonathan McMillan said. All earned medals at state last year: Cody White, now a sophomore, took fourth at state at 106 pounds. Current junior Bodie Paul had a fifth-place finish in Tacoma at 160 pounds, and sophomore Noah Holston was sixth at 145 pounds.
“I was happy with where our kids finished last year,” McMillan said. “I know they weren’t, and they will work harder.”
Holston is a year older — and bigger — and looks to wrestle at 170 pounds this year. Paul will compete at 160 pounds again, while White will strive to maintain 126 pounds.
With as few as three wrestlers in three weight classes, it’s hard to attract other schools to the Methow Valley for a meet. A home mixer is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday (Dec. 10).
The boys kick off their season Wednesday (Dec. 4) at the Okanogan Jamboree and will wrestle in the Pioneer Invite at Omak High School on Saturday (Dec. 7).