White River coach Rich Valdez has high hopes for this season’s girls wrestling team, largely based on turnout.
He had just nine wrestlers on last year’s team that placed sixth at the Class 2A state tournament and this year has seen the roster jump to 16 girls.
“We have more rookies than veterans, but a lot of underclassmen so the future looks bright,” Valdez wrote in an email.
He’s expecting big things from Hannah Lewandowski, the team captain who was heavyweight runnerup at last season’s state tourney. “We will be looking to match her up with the top competition all season and have her ready to take the title at state this year,” Valdez said.
Also, the coach is figuring his two returning seniors, captains Kylie Norton and McKinsie Shirey, can be state medalists. “Kylie is a cool-headed veteran with a lot of mat savvy and experience.” Valdez wrote, “and Shirey has shown leaps and bounds of improvement over the years and is really stepping up into a leadership role. I will expect her to put her money where her mouth is in the performance department and lead by example with a high placing this year.”
Additionally, the coach is excited about the continued improvement of Kendra Blue, who he sees potentially as another state placer. “She is highly competitive and coachable and I look for her to go far,” he wrote.
He notes that freshman Erin Redford also could turn some heads this season.
Rounding out the squad, Valdez said, are “a laundry list of rookies and some returners that are aggressive, coachable and i can’t wait to see who is going to step up and surprise us.”
Part of the program’s success, he said, is due to volunteer coaches Jeff Meagher and Jason Jackson. “I couldn’t do anything without them, they don’t ever get enough credit.”