The Hillsboro girls wrestling team finished its inaugural season on Saturday at the District 1 wrestling tournament held at St. Clair High School. By all accounts, the tournament and the season was a resounding success.
“I’m proud of how our girls wrestled this weekend,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “We wrestled better this weekend than we have all year. I think we won some matches that, on paper, we weren’t supposed to win, and even avenged some losses from previous meetings in the year.”
Mitchell said that, while there were growing pains, the girls are to be admired for being ground-breakers. “Our girls’ effort was outstanding. I’m just proud of each and every one of them for trying something new this year. I think all of them are expecting to have better seasons next year, and even continue wrestling this spring and summer. At the end of the day, we didn’t reach our goals of making it to the state tournament, but I think they are motivated as a group. I think they are a great group of kids and it was fun to be around them throughout the year. I think they have also created some buzz in our school about our wrestling program, so I hope that helps us recruit more girls next year that are willing to give wrestling a try.”
The Hawks finished 21st out of 38 teams participating. Here’s a rundown of each wrestler’s performance at the tournament.
Joey Madding scored three team points at 110. She won her first match against a wrestler from Northwest by major decision (11-3), but lost her quarterfinal match to a wrestler from Mehlville. Her season ended with a consolation loss to a girl from St. Clair. “Joey was in a tough bracket,” said Coach Mitchell. “She had her best match of the year on Saturday. She lost 11-9, but almost had a tying takedown right at the end of the match. A few more seconds and we would have had a chance in overtime. Joey has been great all year, and we expect her to do some offseason wrestling. She is a freshman, so we are expecting big things from her in the future.”
At 121, Mikalyn Barciszewski pinned her first opponent from Rockwood Summit in just 1:15. She dropped her quarterfinal match to a girl from Parkway West, but came back and won two straight matches, both by fall over wrestlers from St. Clair and and Eureka. Both pins were in less than two minutes. However, in her consolation semifinal, she was pinned by another wrestler from Northwest and she was eliminated, earning ten points for the Hawks.
“Mika had a great weekend,” said Mitchell. “She and Amber made it the farthest in the tournament, both going 3-2. Mika is so determined to do well. That’s something you just can’t teach. She isn’t scared of anyone, so it makes her a dangerous wrestler. She is always competing. Mika, too, is excited about wrestling in the spring and summer, and if she stays committed, I’m confident she will see some good improvement from now to this time next year.”
Mika said that she is happy she found wrestling. “I have fallen in love with the sport, from my very first match,” she noted. “I plan on training this summer to better my skills for next season. Districts was such an awesome experience, not just competing, but also getting to know all of the other girls in our district.”
As Coach Mitchell noted, Amber Cage wrestled well for the Hawks at 143. She started the tournament with a pin over a wrestler from Northwest. She lost her quarterfinal match, but like her teammate Barciszewski, she wrestled back winning two matches, one by fall, and the other in an exciting match over a girl from Mehlville. Her season ended with a loss in the consolation semifinal, as she earned eight team points.
“Amber was in the biggest bracket of the tournament (17 girls), as well as the deepest talentwise,” he said. “I think that speaks to her talent level in such a short amount of time this year. She also went 3-2. She had our most exciting match of the tournament. She won 9-8 in the ultimate tiebreaker period, which is ultimately a fourth overtime period. That was a memorable win for her, and it was against someone she lost to a week ago. She was winning her last match and kind of got caught in a weird position and ending up losing. She was upset, but I’m so proud of how she has developed this year. I think she learned some things from wrestling that she can carry into her softball career, and life as well. Amber will definitely come back a senior leader next year.”
Amber, a member of Hillsboro’s softball team that finished fourth in the state, said she enjoyed moving out of her comfort zone. “I enjoyed wrestling, it was very fun and exciting,” she said. “It was different learning something new, but I liked it. Wrestling isn’t for everyone, and it’s a tough sport. Wrestling at districts was nerve-wracking, but it was fun, being surrounded by my team and my coaches and the other girls that I was wrestling. I just knew I had to work hard and not give up in all my matches.”
Another member of the Hawks’ softball team, Julianna Johnson, made her way onto the wrestling team. She wrestled at 152 and went 1-2 on the day. Her season ended in the second round of the consolation bracket, losing to a girl from Rockwood Summit. She said she learned a lot this season. “This season was a roller coaster for everyone, especially the girls team,” she pointed out. “Going into the season not knowing how to do anything related to wrestling, and then going to districts and seeing the outcome of all our hard work we have put in, from the practice room to the multiple duals we participated in. Wrestling at districts was pretty eye-opening, seeing how much everyone else from different schools and weight classes improved from the first time we saw them wrestle. I’m very proud of how the Hillsboro girls wrestling team did at districts, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Finally, Marissa Hudman wrestled at 235 and earned a bye in the first round. She lost in the quarterfinal to a girl from Mehlville, and ended her season with a loss to a Marquette wrestler. She said she was happy with how the first season turned out. “It was a pretty good first season. Everyone on the team is really nice, and are willing to help if you’re struggling. I didn’t think I’d like it and enjoy it as much as I did. As for districts, it went good considering some of these girls are more experienced than me. I’m happy with how my matches went. Our girls team worked their butts off both days, and I can’t wait to try again next season.”
Hillsboro High School is very proud of the accomplishments of these young ladies.