The competition gets better every year, Yelm High School girls wrestling coach Amy Earley says.
Friday at the Tacoma Dome proved that. Yelm pushed five of its six wrestlers through to the quarterfinals, but enters the final day with just Phoenix Dubose (115 pounds) and Ashley Kile (190) still in the running for individual titles.
Despite some losses, the top-ranked Tornados are in good position to defend their 2017 state title at Mat Classic XXX.
Earley says the Tornados aren’t underestimating anyone, trailing Union, 43-41, entering the second day.
“They’re going to have to fight,” Earley said. “It’s just a battle. State is a battle.”
Dubose, the state runner-up at 115 last season as a sophomore, pinned both of her opponents to return to the semifinals.
She dropped Arlington’s Tailer Cochran in 51 seconds in the morning session, before pinning Ephrata’s Sienna Stocking in 3:07 later in the afternoon.
Dubose said she tries to establish a dominant presence and quick pace early on in tournaments.
“I feel like it really sets a standard for myself and others,” she said.
Kile followed suit in her bracket, pinning both Warden’s Daneil Jolley (1:17) and Seton Catholic’s Maritza Chavez-Anguiano (3:05) to reach the semifinals.
But, many of Yelm’s points Saturday will have to come through the back end after four wrestlers fell into the consolation bracket.
An official disqualified Brooklyn Cutler in her 120-pound quarterfinal against Hanford’s Taylor Robbins in the final seconds of the match for stalling, despite Cutler holding a 5-2 lead late in the third period.
Minutes later at 130 pounds, Carly Smith, the state runner-up at 125 pounds last season as a freshman, lost by 5-2 decision to Naches Valley’s Kaylee Moore.
Chelsey Rochester then lost her quarterfinals match to Union’s Krista Warren at 140 pounds, 5-2.
And Shelaha Brown-Stephens was sent to the consolation bracket earlier in the day by Eastmont’s Flora Morrow.
All four wrestlers rallied in consolation matches to advance to Saturday.
“All of our girls who we brought with us are definitely ready for tomorrow,” Dubose said. “All of us should be placing in the top five, that’s a goal we set.”
Union appears to be Yelm’s biggest challenger, and has the depth to upend the Tornados’ repeat effort. The Titans’ four remaining wrestlers are all in the semifinals.
Still, Yelm is in good position if her wrestlers perform well in consolation matches.
“That happened last year,” Earley said. “We had Brooklyn take fifth, and that was the key. So here we are again.”
Yelm had six wrestlers place to win its first title in program history last season — three with runner-up finishes, and three who placed in the consolation bracket.
“It’s looking like the same idea,” Earley said.