Stephens, Rowell qualify for Mat Classic
It was not the fast start wrestlers Kateri Rowell and Zahlee Stephens were hoping for, but in this case a win is a win.
Both had to work a little harder than anticipated in the Region 4 Wrestling Championship openers.
“The important match is the first one,” coach Troy Stephens said. “No matter how you win it. You don’t want to come from the back door in this kind of tournament.”
Either way, both his wrestlers won their openers on Saturday. Senior Zahlee Stephens placed second and junior Kateri Rowell placed fourth and both qualified for state.
“Now they’ve got the butterflies out,” he said.
Stephens (21-10) places second
Zahlee needed some late magic to slide past Hanford’s Libby Graham at 120 pounds. Graham scored first with a second-period escape, but Zahlee scored a takedown in the third for the 2-1 win. She was scrambling with Graham, and did a roll for the two points.
“I keep telling her always, always, always roll toward the legs,” said Troy. “She practices that every single day.”
Zahlee fell behind Sunnyside’s Daisy Chavez 3-1 through the first two periods, all the while looking for an opening. She was awarded a penalty point after a stall by Chavez and pulled within a point. With 30 seconds to go and still behind, Zahlee took a risk and scored five points.
“She gave a lot of pressure and I said, ‘I am going to have to throw her no matter what happens,’” she said. “My dad taught me how to throw. I would get down a lot and need to throw. Now I know about five throws.
“I don’t throw much, only when I need to.”
She advanced to the finals and qualified for state all at the same time.
“The entire time I’ve been like stressing and psyching myself out,” Zahlee said.
Minutes before the semifinals she said she kept to herself and tried to settle her nerves. She advanced to the finals to face Daisy DeLeon of Prosser.
DeLeon won 6-2 and Zahlee placed second.
Rowell (20-12) takes fourth
Kateri Rowell opened the 110-pound weight bracket with a 13-4 major decision over Warden’s Alyssa Edson. The junior grabbed a 4-1 lead in the first period and extended it to 9-2 in the second period. She had four takedowns, and an escape in the first two rounds.
She said she used a duck-under move on three of her takedowns. The fourth was a counter to a throw attempt by Edson. Rowell added a takedown and a nearfall in the third.
She met her match in the semifinals against Amanda Gilliam of North Central. After a scoreless first periord, Gilliam took control, building a 15-1 lead before a third-period pin. Rowell won her next match against Othello’s Iyalhye Barraza to qualify for state. She won by a third-period pin at the 4:06 mark. She settled for fourth place after being pinned by Richland’s Tamika Pierce in the second round.
-Kurtis J. Woodemail@example.com