Wrestling has always been one of my favorite sports to cover. But, like anything else, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed watching it until I gave it a try. I remember my first winter as a sports reporter down in Hood River, Oregon, when the wrestling coach — a guy by the name of Mark Brown — basically told me I was going to watch his team’s dual meet that night. From then on, I have been a fan.
I went on to cover the Roseburg High School wrestling team for two seasons, right at the beginning of their stretch of dominance in which they won something like five out of six Oregon big-school state championships. I covered a number of individual state champs and one of their state title-winning teams. That experience showed me just how hard these kids work to become the best.
The past few years I’ve had the pleasure of covering another standout program in Toppenish, winners of two of the past three 2A state championships and a favorite to win another this season. I’ve also followed along with Granger’s title-winning teams in recent years, along with stout programs from Wapato, Zillah and Selah.
Last weekend, I got to see Wapato and Zillah in action at the Cadet Classic at Eisenhower High School, where Zillah placed second to 4A powerhouse Sunnyside (another elite talent factory in this valley). I also got to talk to a number of female wrestlers from Wapato and Davis. Girls are gravitating to the sport more and more these days, and that is good to see. It wasn’t that long ago that the girls had to wrestle against boys, but the WIAA has since added girls wrestling as a state championship sport.
Now, you’ve got national champion-caliber competitors coming out of the Valley, like Viktorya Torres of Granger and Cameron Guerin of Davis (who is now training with the U.S. National Team). Looking at the talent coming up, that’s likely only the beginning.