Katie Ward made it look easy when she won the girls’ 120-pound weight division at the first-ever girls’ regional wrestling tournament.
Reed won the team title, McQueen was second, and Elko was third in the team title. The Raiders had seven girls in the finals and four champions to be crowned on Saturday.
The top four finishers in each weight division of Saturday’s tournament advance to the State Wrestling Championships on February 10th and 11th at the Winnemucca Events Center. Reed will send 10 wrestlers to the state. McQueen sends five.
The sport was officially recognized by the NIAA last fall, although a few girls-only wrestling tournaments were held prior to that recognition.
Donnie Nelson, executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, said that a girls’ wrestling division was part of the existing state wrestling format.
Ward, who has already won two unofficial state championships in girls’ wrestling, is set on winning a third and proving she’s a better wrestler than her older brother.
Ward, a senior at McQueen, started wrestling eight years ago, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Kai.
“I got into wrestling because I wanted to be better than him,” Ward said.
She is currently No. 30 on the national ranking for high school girls’ wrestling and has been up to No. 14.
She doesn’t have a game plan on the mat, although she does it outside of the gym. Ward said she never tries to learn about her opponents on the mat and never previews the bracket.
“I don’t look at how good they are or what they’ve done, I just go out and wrestle,” she said. “I feel like if I look at it too much and focus on it, it just gets in my head and it’s not worth it. My game plan is to get on the mat and have fun.”
She got a straight A in the classroom and wants to be a doctor. She receives some college wrestling offers from schools that have the sport, but wrestling is secondary to her academics.
Ward said when her grandfather died a few years ago; that inspired her to want to try to help people.
“Ever since then, I’ve wanted to give back and get into the medical field,” Ward said.
She also loves working with younger children, especially those in less than ideal circumstances, and volunteers at the Northern Nevada Rave Family Foundation, which helps families with young and adult children with special needs.
McQueen wrestling coach Jeromy Vimes said Ward could sometimes try too hard.
“She’s a damn good student and a damn good wrestler,” said Vimes. “She works hard at everything she does, sometimes to a failure. She works to the point where she pushes herself too hard, but she is diverse in the things she enjoys. She’s a wrestler and she also loves doing the culinary[program]here at McQueen.”
He said Ward was a strong natural wrestler from the start and when she faced adversity such as injuries, she persevered.
At a national tournament last year, she wrestled in both freestyle and folkstyle competitions, finishing third in one and fourth in the other, boosting her national standing.
The boys wrestling North 5A regional is scheduled for Friday through Saturday in Carson, with championship games scheduled for Saturday, February 4 at 1:30 p.m.
The 3A North Regional takes place in Wooster from Friday to Saturday. The 2A North Regional takes place in Pershing County on Saturday.
The state tournament for all grades, boys and girls, will be held February 10-11 at the Winnemucca Events Center.
Girls’ Wrestling State Qualifiers
January 28 at McQueen
- 1. Sophie Workman, Fernley
- 2. Ella Kavanagh, Douglas
- 3. Viviana Zavala, Spanish Sources
- 4.Vanessa Romero, Elko
- 1. Shaylee Gavin, Fernley
- 2.Bella Coronado, McQueen
- 3. Jasmin Tamondong, Douglas
- 4. Natalia Hernández, Elko
- 1. Amber Perkins, Carson
- 2. Emily Smith, Reed
- 3. Ella Parker, Spanish Sources
- 4. Anastasia Curitti, Coral Academy – North
- 1.Katie Ward, McQueen
- 2. Bliss Moody, Douglas
- 3. Ava Parker, Spanish Sources
- 4. Ekko Kosturos, Reno
- 1. Meredith Nash, Reed
- 2.Nadera Muhammad, Fernley
- 3. Maria Mendoza-Flores, Fernley
- 4. Keyona Apodaca, Elko
- 1. Aneka Mathews, Reed
- 2. Penelope Ruiz, Elko
- 3. Maliyah Moore, Sparks
- 4. Rubin Barrett-Reese, Fernley
- 1. Ainsley Gordon, Reed
- 2. Alyssa Winters, Reed
- 3. Kaytlynn Sibrian, McQueen
- 4. Kylee Hamilton, Elko
- 1. Whitney Heit, Bishop Manogue
- 2. Maria Delpalacio, Embrace
- 3. TeTiare Pedro-Cabanoda, reed
- 4. Mulania Jones, Elko
- 1. Ellah Olson, Carson
- 2. Hannah Montoya, Spring Creek
- 3. Jaclyn Daley, McQueen
- 4. Elece Baron, reed
- 1. Jasmine Morales, McQueen
- 2. Camila Martinez, Sparks
- 3. Simaima Masi, Wooster
- 4. Ella Angelista, reed
- 1. Maria Aiono, reed
- 2. Jennifer Galvan, Combat Mountain
- 3. Avianna Robles, Elko
- 4. Anete Chavarin, South Tahoe
- 1.Olivia Jenkins, Galena
- 2. Ellie Smith, reed
Championship Game: Sophie Workman (Fernley) p. Ella Kavanagh (Douglas), 5:46
Championship Fight: Shaylee Gavin (Fernley) p. Bella Coronado (McQueen), 3:04
Championship Game: Amber Perkins (Carson) p. Emily Smith (Reed), 1:58
Championship Match: Katie Ward (McQueen) p. Bliss Moody (Douglas), 1:46
Championship Game: Meredith Nash (Reed) p. Nadera Muhammad (Fernley), 2:40
Championship game: Aneka Mathews (Reed) p. Penelope Ruiz (Elko), 3:37
Championship Match: Ainsley Gordon (Reed) p. Alyssa Winters (Reed), 3:46
Championship Match: Whitney Heit (Bishop Manogue) p. Maria Delpalacio (hug), 1:55
Championship Fight: Ellah Olson (Carson), p. Hannah Montoya (Spring Creek), 4:45
Championship Match: Jasmine Morales (McQueen) d. Camila Martinez (Sparks), 6-4 SV
Championship fight: Maria Aiono (Reed) p. Jennifer Galvan (Battle Mountain), 4:52
Championship Match: Olivia Jenkins (Galena) p. Ellie Smith (Reed), 1:34
Jim Krajewski covers collegiate, high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.