Ki-Be girls wrestler McDonald a golden Bear

BENTON CITY -- Sheridan McDonald is about as subtle as a crossface.

Scrappy and squat, the Kiona-Benton senior measures a few inches over 5 feet but is 135 pounds of tough.

She has a PG-13 mouth and uses it to bluntly speak about kicking butt and getting hers kicked.

And she can't wait for boot camp and the Marines.

Oh, and if you shake her hand, better bring some grip, 'cause there ain't nothin' "girlie" about this girl wrestler.

"It's always been a guy's sport," McDonald said after practice in the days leading up to Mat Classic XXIII, which starts Friday in Tacoma. "But it feels like it's just my world, too."

She certainly has laid claim to it. Barring injury or a surprise turn of events, McDonald will become Washington's first four-time girls state champion Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.

McDonald is quick to point out winning a girls title is nowhere near as difficult as winning a boys crown.

"I get my ass beat every day in practice, and then I go up to state and win a state title," she said. "Guys wrestle so much harder than girls wrestle. It's 100 times harder."

Which is why she takes as much pride in being able to keep up with the guys as she does in winning state titles. She has medaled three times at the Rainier tournament wrestling against guys, this year reaching the final.

McDonald is 19-4 this season and 90-33 for her career, mostly in matches against boys. She has taken her share of lumps -- a 15-0 technical fall to Royal state veteran Laddie Goroski earlier this season comes to mind -- but she has doled out her share as well.

It has been a strong season for Ki-Be. The Bears shared the SCAC East title with Connell and then won their first district crown since 1995. McDonald was the regular 135-pounder on the team.

Ki-Be is sending five guys to Tacoma -- including 130-pounder Matt McCallum, a state runner-up at 119 last season, and another state vet, Garrett Whitney, at 189 -- as well as McDonald and Amy Campbell at 140 on the girls side.

"Those are my boys," McDonald said. "We're a family."

McDonald's introduction to the sport came in first grade.

"They had these packets, and they had one for cheerleading and one for wrestling," she recalled. "I was going to try out cheerleading because girls did that."

But even at age 6, she wasn't really a "pompon" type of girl, so she grabbed the wrestling packet.

"A kid told me I couldn't do it," she said, "so I had to prove him wrong."

It's a common thread in McDonald's tapestry. Tell her she can't do something, challenge her toughness, and she will prove you wrong or wear herself out trying.

"If you want to piss me off, tell me I can't do something," she said. "I can do anything."

One of her first high school opponents found that out the hard way in a takedown tournament.

"We were all warming up, and he's sitting there with his friends, and they're laughing and pointing," McDonald said. "And I went out there and thrashed that kid."

That attitude hasn't slipped the notice of Ki-Be coach Ben Hill, who knows which buttons to push.

"If she's being a little obstinate ... " he said. "She's a rough-and-tumble kid, and she won't back down from a fight.

"I think she saw (wrestling) as a way to fight people without getting in trouble."

Indeed, domination is the part of the sport she most loves.

"It's a pain in the ass, but I like the feeling of staying in shape and accomplishing something," McDonald said. "When I beat up a guy and win a match, it feels great. There's nothing better than winning a match, because you beat that guy."

She has lost just one high school match to a girl, against Kentwood's Jolene Crook-Meyers early in her freshman year. The two met again in Tacoma for the state title, and McDonald destroyed her 18-1.

McDonald entered this season ranked seventh in the nation by the United States Girls Wrestling Association. She earned All-America status when she placed third at the 2009 Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., losing to the eventual champion in a close decision (she insists she would win big in a rematch).

She has had a lot of contact with college coaches and twice has been offered a scholarship by Northern Michigan.

But she has her heart set on the Marines, following a family tradition of military service dating to her grandfather's stint in the Navy.

"They're bad-ass," she said, noting that when she goes to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C, next fall, she is determined to be the best recruit as well.

That could open the door to her competing on the Armed Forces wrestling team that tours the world and has access to the U.S. Olympic training center and coaching in Colorado Springs, Colo.

But first comes Mat Classic and a potential date with state history.

She said she doesn't want to come off as cocky, but she is sure of herself. Of her 11 wins at the Tacoma Dome, six have come by pin and three by technical fall. Her three championship matches resulted in the 18-1 technical fall and two first-period pins.

Why not be confident?

"I don't need to throw anything special out there, just my way of wrestling," she said. "That will be it, that will be the story -- here comes my fourth state title."

There's that crossface again.