The first weekend of January split the East Jefferson Rivals into two directions: southbound to Kelso for one of the largest girls' tournaments in the country, and westbound for the …
The first weekend of January split the East Jefferson Rivals into two directions: southbound to Kelso for one of the largest girls' tournaments in the country, and westbound for the Battle of the Axe team tournament in Port Angeles.
On Friday, Jan. 5, four girls entered a competition in the 2024 Braided 64 tournament. This two-day tournament brought in girls from numerous Northwestern states looking for the highest level of wrestling they could find in the region. The four girls who competed were Mi Amada Lanphear Ramirez in the 115-pound division, Gracee Liske in the 120-pound division, Ursula Schmidt in the 140-pound division, and Zinnia Berg in the 190-pound division. Liske finished the event with one win, and was leading in her final match before she got caught and could not recover. Berg continued to improve her technique and won two matches at this tournament. She narrowly lost her last match 2-0.
"Zinnia is starting to employ some good hand-fighting techniques in the neutral position,” said Coach Jim Wilcox. "She pinned one girl with a move she has been working on in the practice room. It was great to see things work out in live competition."
Ramirez had a 128-person bracket with more than 80 girls registered in her weight class. "This was an extremely competitive tournament, and once again Mi Amada rose to the challenge, advancing through six rounds to make it into the finals,” Wilcox said.
En route to the final, Ramirez received a first-round bye, then won by pin over Brooke Farias of Sunnyside. This was followed by a major decision over Yasmin Romero of McKay, and a pin of Delilah Governor of Hickinson. That put Ramirez in the quarterfinal round and a much-anticipated match with Jada Hernandez from Warden. Last year they met twice, and Ramirez won both times. The final time they wrestled was for third place at the State Tournament. Once again Ramirez was victorious, winning a decisive victory of 7-0 punctuated by her throwing Hernandez straight to her back in the first round to earn five points and nearly the pin.
Ramirez won her semi-final match 17-7 against Kira Songer of Marysville Getchell High. Her final match was against Marjorie McDaniel of Orting. It was a great back-and-forth battle that featured Ramirez throwing her opponent not once but twice onto her back, both times called out of bounds by the ref. With Ramirez trailing 9-4 entering the final round, she chose to wrestle both up and continued to fight hard, but ended up losing the takedown and getting pinned by the currently top-ranked girl in the state.
"It was a great tournament by all our girls,” said Coach Steve Grimm. “Mi Amada once again showed she can battle with the best of them, and we very well may be looking forward to a rematch of Mi Amada and Marjorie for the state championship. Zinnia wrestled the best she has all season, Gracee Liske showed how much potential she has with her matches, and Ursula continues to improve in our room and in competition. We have a great girls team and we are just hitting our stride."
On Saturday, Jan. 6, the rest of the team traveled to Port Angeles to compete in the annual Battle of the Axe Tournament. This event consisted of 16 teams competing in round robins, then advancing into a final group of four teams for the last two matches.
"The great thing about this event is all our kids got lots of mat time,” Grimm said. “We put six kids on other teams so they could get matches, and our varsity wrestled well through the long day. Unfortunately we were only able to fill a bit more than half of the weight classes, so our team scores took quite a hit during this competition." The EJ Rivals were able to initially fill 10 of 14 spots in their team line-up for the first two matches, then went down to filling nine out of 14 spots, after one wrestler suffered an injury and was done for the day.
Four sophomores finished the day with a winning record. Wrestler of the day was Manaseh Lanphear Ramirez who went 5-0, including defeating Walker Wheeler from Forks. Wheeler is currently the No. 5 ranked wrestler in the state in the B-school division, and has been a daunting opponent for Ramirez during the last two years. This was his first victory over Wheeler after four matches. Manaseh Ramirez won 7-0, and Grady White finished the day at 4-1. Rylen Kruse finished his day at 3-1, including a victory by points (6-4) over the No. 4 ranked wrestler in the B division, Adrian Sanchez of Forks. Levi Donahue finished his day at 3-2 and continues to wrestle well.