The powerful White River High girls wrestling program just keeps winning.
The squad, which placed second in the team standings at last year’s state championships, is considered a favorite to take the state title this time around. In Washington, when it comes to girls wrestling, all schools are combined – regardless of size – for a single Mat Classic tourney.
Top-ranked teams and individuals are circling Feb. 21-22 on their calendars, when the Tacoma Dome will again host the state finals.
This year’s Rivergirls are presently ranked No. 1 in the state by washingtonwrestlingreport, which keeps tabs on the sport. Rounding out the top five are North Kitsap, Toppenish, Federal Way and Union (last season’s state champion).
The respect comes as no surprise, since the White River squad has won five tournaments so far. Included are December victories at Yelm’s Jump On In tourney, an Orting invitational, the Hammerhead Invitational in Bremerton and the Rogers (Puyallup) Holiday tournament. The run of success was capped Jan. 11 by a team victory at the huge Kelso Invitational.
The Kelso tourney brought together wrestlers from approximately 100 schools and, in an exciting finish that wasn’t decided until the finals, White River slipped past Hanford High for top team honors.
A handful of wrestlers have attracted attention from washingtonwrestlingreport, based on their individual success. That list is headed by veteran grapplers Claire DiCugno and Jalia Williams, each ranked No. 1 in the state for their weight class – DiCugno at 125 pounds and Williams at 140.
In addition, Shelby Moore (120 pounds) is ranked No. 4; Anna DiCugno (110) and Maria Hawthorne (145) are ranked No. 5; and Jenna Beddow (115) sits at No. 10.
The team took a hit two weekends ago when Alex Hernandez suffered a knee injury that will keep her sidelined for the rest of the season. At the time, she was ranked ninth in the state at 155 pounds.
A season ago, Claire DiCugno advanced to the finals at the state tournament and placed second, Hernandez took fifth and Williams was seventh.