NOOKSACK - Emily Lucke, Sehome's first four-year female wrestler, won a Northwest Conference girls' championship over a Lynden freshman who may develop into one of the Lions' most outstanding four-year competitors. Meanwhile, Mount Baker's powerhouse crew claimed the title decisively in the third annual NWC championships, scoring 200 points with finalists in eight of the 12 weights, including three champions, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Nooksack Valley.
"It's really been great to train with the boys since sixth grade," said Lucke, who has fond memories of being Sehome's first female wrestler and was "grandfathered in" when the girls began having their own teams turn out. "I feel I'm ready to earn a spot at state for the first time. I've gotten a lot more aggressive."
In the 124-pound final, Lucke pinned Karina Martinez, a Lynden freshman who recently returned to competition after suffering a concussion against Lucke several weeks ago. Martinez, however, showed a lot of spunk and style.
"I was really impressed with her (Martinez)," said Lucke, who pinned all three of her opponents with an arresting performance and plans to study at Washington State University for a career in law enforcement. "She has a great future in wrestling."
Lynden coach Santos Gallegos has been impressed with Martinez's courage.
"She's a surprise for us as a freshman," he said. "She's just come back from that concussion against the Sehome girl. Now Karina is learning how not to doubt herself. She's feeling like, 'Hey, I can do this against older girls."
Gallegos was thrilled to see 72 girls competing in a conference meet.
"Now you see girls who want to wrestle in high school when they're in middle school," he said. "All the girls in our league should know they're making history."
Mount Baker, a state runner-up last season, certainly looked like another state title contender.
One of the highlights for Baker coach Clyde Blockley was seeing freshman Korbryn Cadle advance to the finals at 112 pounds, where she lost by a second-round pin to senior standout Alex Parson of Nooksack Valley.
"She just came up to the varsity last week," said Blockley. "She's our team's biggest surprise so far. She's worked hard and she's earned it."
Baker's three champions all won by pin - sophomore Natalie Smith at 118 over Sedro-Woolley's Maddy Mosier; senior Ivy Locke at 137 over Sedro-Woolley's Chloe Ammons; and sophomore Akemi Schwinden at 235 over Nooksack's Ashley Loreen.
In one of the night's longest title matches, Blaine's Olivia Adams decisioned fellow junior Jessica Mata of Mount Baker 10-3.
"I hope I'm ready (to bid) for state," said Adams, who has lost only one match against what she estimated was a dozen victories. "I came in ranked fifth at my weight in the state and Jessica came in sixth, so this was a good match. Jessica a real class act."
It was Adams' third consecutive pin. Mata came into the final with a pair of pins.
The other two Whatcom County champions were Nooksack Valley senior Chloe Gardner, who pinned Burlington-Edison's Shelby Burress for Gardner's third pin of the night, and Lynden sophomore Thalia Veliz, who pinned Mount Baker's gutty Jordan Horsman with 5:10 elapsed in a fine match. Horsman pinned her first two foes.
Veliz, who was eighth at state as a freshman last season, pinned all three of her opponents in a most promising effort for such a young wrestler in the NWC finals.
In all, Whatcom County had 17 wrestlers among the 24 in the finals, showing just how far girls' wrestling has come in the area. That was especially impressive because depth-laden Burlington finished second with 169 points and Sedro-Woolley was third with 135. Nooksack took fourth with 119 and Lynden fifth with 93.
Burlington had two champions as Ashley Becerra had to go all out to take an 8-2 decision over Nooksack sophomore Maria Cazares at 100 pounds and Dellisha Hodges claimed a pin at 190 pounds over Sehome's Lisa Hernandez, who was sixth at state last year as a Lynden student.
Sedro's Woolley's two champions were Teracita Shanes with a pin over Baker's Lacey Postlewait at 106, and Cheyenne Ammons with a pin over Baker's Aniecca Camacho at 155.
NWC GIRLS' CHAMPIONSHIPS
Team scores: Mount Baker 200, Burlington-Edison 169, Sedro-Woolley 135, Nooksack Valley 119, Lynden 93, Sehome 44, Blaine 29, Anacortes 24, Ferndale 12, Bellingham 7, Meridian 0.
Championship matches: 100: Ashley Becerra (B-E) dec. Maria Cazares (NV) 8-2; 106: Teracita Shanes (S-W) pinned Lacey Postlewait (MB); 112: Alex Parson (NV) pinned Korbryn Cadle (MB); 118: Natalie Smith (MB) pinned Maddy Mosier (S-W); 124: Emily Lucke (Sehome) pinned Karina Martinez (Lynden); 130: Oliva Adams (Blaine) dec. Jessica Mata (MB) 10-3; 137: Ivy Locke (MB) pinned Chloe Ammons (S-W); 145: Chloe Gardner (NV) pinned Shelby Burress (B-E); 155: Cheyenne Ammons (S-W) pinned Aniecca Camacho (MB); 170: Thalia Veliz (Lynden) pinned Jordan Horsman (MB); 190: Dellisha Hodges (B-E) pinned Lisa Hernandez (Sehome); 235: Akema Schwinden (MB) pinned Ashley Loreen (NV).