'It's exciting and nerve-wracking': 4 Thurston girls head to state for wrestling
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - It's state week for high school girls wrestling programs in Oregon, and one name that may very well be on the forefront of many girls' minds in the 5A division is Thurston.
"We definitely are the largest girls wrestling program in the state," said Thurston Head Wrestling Coach, Mike Simons. "We had 31 girls sign up this year. I think we had 22 finish; we entered 20 girls in the state qualifier."
And now, four move on to state.
"Last year we had four girls also, but the difference between this year and last year - we had about 120 girls that tried out for state last year," said Simons. "We had 277 this year. So, four is really like eight because of the level of competition."
Two girls wrestling for the Colts, Macie Stewart and Malea Palahniuk, will return to state this weekend and try to defend their titles in their respective weight classes.
"This year i'm going into state as a second seed, and hopefully it turns out good," said Stewart, a senior at Thurston.
"Defending my title of course," said Palahniuk, a Junior at Thurston, "and I'm going head-to-head against a strong girl, but I love the challenge."
Mariah Annis, a senior at Thurston, will also be going to state this year. She's no stranger to state either, placing fourth last year.
"Walking out on the mat is just crazy seeing everybody there watching you, being the center of attention, basically," said Annis. "It's exciting and nerve-wracking."
Although pinning down their spot as state champions is what all these girls are working for, their main moves are to enjoy their experience on the mat and have fun.
"Being a part of a big girls team is exciting and new," said Annis.
"Just making it fun," said Stewart. "It's my last tournament and, eventually, possibly wrestling in college."
"That's what I love about coming into wrestling, it's always a challenge," said Palahniuk. "But, it's also you controlling the match so, I think I'm ready."
The athletes will be competing in the girls' exhibition state tournament under the "Oregon Wrestling Association."
It coincides with O.S.A.A State Championships in Portland.
According to Team U.S.A., the O.S.A.A. will officially add a girls' state tournament to the wrestling program in 2019.