Eureka girls to compete in Western States Championships

Photo by Jennifer Johnston – Eureka’s Kelli Johnston in action at last year’s state championships.

By Ray Hamill — A team of six Eureka girls wrestlers will compete in the Western States Championships in Provo, Utah, this weekend.

Loggers coaches Cecil Wilson and Thomas Gowing have made the trip with the girls to get them some top competition after all the hard work they put in this past year.

“This is our reward trip,” Wilson said.

The six wrestlers include recent graduates Kelli Johnston and Slate Delsman, who last week were also included on the California state team to compete in a national freestyle tournament next month.

Also making the trip is junior Camille Shaver and sophomores Maizie Fugate, Ava Begovic and Aleyah Angel-Lopez.

The powerhouse Eureka program placed third in the North Coast Section Championships last year and would have been among the favorites for a top finish once again this year, with nine seniors back from that team, including seven who had medalled at the prestigious section tournament.

The pandemic, however, reduced the season to three weeks of all-local competition and canceled the section and state tournaments, so Wilson and Gowing made the decision to find their wrestlers some additional competition.

“This is a group of girls that since December have been working out three times a week together, lifting and conditioning,” Wilson said. “They were so consistent that we decided as coaches they should be given the opportunity to wrestle.”

The standout six have led the way for the program in other ways too.

“These six girls were vital in raising funds for the team and vital in representing us throughout the years,” the coach added. “Our intent was to reward the girls for their effort.”

The tournament is just the beginning of a busy summer for both Johnston and Delsman.

In addition to making the state team for next month’s nationals, the talented duo will also be attending Division-II Colorado Mesa together.

According to Wilson, they will be the first H-DNL girls to wrestle at the NCAA D-II level.

Categories: Eureka, Wrestling

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