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Two Moses Lake wrestlers compete at 14U women’s national duals

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | July 3, 2024 3:00 AM

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Two wrestlers from the Moses Lake Wrestling Club were on the 14U Washington Girls team that took second in Greco-Roman and fifth in freestyle at last month’s USA Wrestling Women’s National Duals in Indiana.

Rising eighth grader Sophia Garza and rising freshman Anahi Garcia both took the mat after being selected for the team.

“When we got there and I saw so many people, I was just like, ‘Wow,’” Garza said. “It looked like a lot of wrestlers (were there), and the place we were in was pretty big, which made me more nervous. But once I started wrestling I thought it wasn’t so bad.”

Garza has been wrestling since she was five years old, citing influence from her uncles being previous state champions and her parents. Garcia is new to the sport, and this is her first full year of wrestling. Her brother Jesus Garcia is on the Moses Lake High School varsity team.

Selection for the 14U Washington Girls teams comes down to a handful of tournaments, 14U Washington Girls Head Coach Jordan Ottow said — mainly the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s National Championships which was held in Spokane in April, as well as the Freestyle and Greco State tournament that was held in Pasco in May.

“I really look at who’s the state champion at a weight class, and also did they go to women’s nationals in Spokane because that tournament gives us seeding points,” he said. “If any of the girls went to that tournament, they’re going to give us seeding points for when we get to the national duals in Indiana and help us get a better seed.”

“It was kind of crazy — I didn’t know it would help me get into the duals team, but I placed second in Greco,” Garza said. “I think that’s what helped me.”

In the freestyle tournament, held June 20-21, the 14U Washington Girls team won Pool B with dual wins over New York (55-17), Virginia (59-12), North Dakota (56-19) and Oklahoma (39-37), only losing to California (37-35). The top finish in pool duals sent the team into the Gold/Silver bracket, where they defeated Texas 61-16 and Illinois 34-32, but lost 44-28 to Kansas. Due to tiebreakers, the team dropped into the fifth-place match of the Gold/Silver division.

“We were so excited that we were placing, but when we knew that we beat Illinois and they were going to the finals and we were going to fifth, we had to really boost some morale to make sure that we finished the freestyle tournament with a win and make sure the girls were excited,” Ottow said. 

The Greco-Roman tournament began the following day, and Washington opened with a Round One bye in Pool D. The team went on to defeat Virginia 63-8 in the Second Round and Ohio 49-28 in Round 3, winning the pool and once again advancing to the Gold/Silver division.

Washington went 3-0 competing in Pool A of the Gold/Silver bracket, with a 48-22 win over Indiana, a 40-33 win over Oklahoma and a 42-28 win over Missouri. 

“I’m looking at the chart and the brackets, and I’m like, ‘If we win this one, that means we’re going to the finals,’ and nobody was even recognizing it as it was happening,” Ottow said. “We just kept wrestling, and that was kind of the mindset the whole day.”

In the first-place match against Pennsylvania Blue, Washington lost 47-23. Despite the loss, there was a sense of accomplishment from the wrestlers.

“It was nice because we were representing Washington, and placing second in the whole dual (tournament) was pretty cool,” Garza said. 

Earning the high placements took a myriad of factors; Garza noted determination.

“A lot of hard work in wrestling, and giving it your all,” Garza said. “Cheering for our teammates to help them get through the matches — boosting their confidence.”

Garcia mentioned confidence.

“A lot of confidence,” Garcia said. “Me, personally, I wasn’t that confident, but you need confidence to (perform).”

After wrestling in 15 duals in three days, the matches began to stack up toward the final day.

“It was tiring,” Garza said. “Usually at a tournament we wrestle four or five matches, and we had to wrestle four or five matches a day — and the last day we wrestled six (matches).”

Both tournaments were held at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, located just over 30 miles north of Indianapolis. Both Garcia and Garza said this was the biggest tournament they had ever competed in.

“It was kind of nerve-racking,” Garcia said. “It was one of the first big tournaments I’ve been to — really big tournaments. I felt like there was a lot of pressure, but I felt like it wore off after a few matches.”

The tournament also allowed the wrestlers to meet new people from across the country. 

“It was pretty nice actually, because I would make new friends from different states,” Garcia said. “Some girls were nice.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

 

    Members of the 14U Washington Girls wrestling team smile for a photo after competing at the USA Wrestling Women’s National Duals tournaments in Westfield, Indiana last month. Sophia Garza and Anahi Garcia from Moses Lake both competed in the tournament.