TACOMA - Forget individual titles, the Mount Baker girls' wrestling team put together a Day 1 effort that might have the entire Mountaineers squad celebrating after Day 2 of Mat Classic XXV.
Five of Mount Baker's nine state wrestlers won two matches to set themselves up for a battle with Warden for a race to claim a girls' state title.
Warden finished Day 1 with 62.5 points, while Mount Baker earned 54 points Friday, Feb. 15, at the Tacoma Dome.
"I think we are kicking butt," said Mount Baker 124-pound wrestler Jessica Mata, who earned a semifinal spot in her bracket with back-to-back wins.
Mata, Megan Young (130), Aysha Schwinden (190) and Akemi Schwinden (235) all reached the semifinal rounds. Freshman Natalie Smith (118) reached the medal rounds by winning two matches sandwiched around a loss.
While a team title is within reach, individual titles will be on the line, too.
Young, a three-year state participant who dominated her first two matches, might have the best shot out of Mount Baker's four semifinalists.
"The first match, I wasn't expecting it to go that quick," Young said. "It kind of caught me by surprise, but that got me excited for the next one. Hopefully, I just get a good night's sleep and keep doing what I've been doing. It's kind of key to stick to the moves you've been using and keep going."
Mata was a state alternate last year, but made the most of her opportunity this year.
"It just feels great, because I try my butt off at practices, so it feels great to win," Mata said. "What I always say to myself is I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me, and that makes me motivated to win."
Nooksack Valley, which finished day one in 10th place with 24 points, sent Chloe Gardner (137) and Kylee Dekoekkoek to the medal rounds.
Gardner earned a spot in the semifinals with two dominant wins. She placed fourth last year in her first season wrestling.
Dekoekkoek was seconds away from joining Gardner in the semis, but after winning her first match she allowed her quarterfinal opponent to tie the match with seconds to go in the third period. She eventually lost in overtime.
"It feels great," Dekoekkoek said. "I've been working hard all season, so it feels great to accomplish (getting to day two). For that loss, I was frustrated at myself, because I knew I had the ability to beat her. Coach (Chad) Parson is a great coach, and he pulled me aside and told me I beat myself. He told me to bottle it up and take it out on the next girl, so that's what I did."
Lynden's Thalia Veliz (170) was Whatcom County's eighth girls' wrestler to advance to the medal rounds. She won her first match, lost her second then won her third.
Blaine's Olivia Adams (130), Mount Baker's Aniecea Camacho (155), Jamie Vanderyacht (170) and Nooksack Valley's Amber Cramsey-Behnke (235) and Alberta Garcia (124) won one match and lost two, ending their tournament.
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