ROCKY RIVER—Six Chagrin Valley Conference wrestlers area headed to the state tournament after placing among the top four at the Northeast District on Sunday at Lutheran West High School.
The host Longhorns, who finished third as a team, qualified four wrestlers while Brooklyn and Harvey both landed one among the top four.
Lutheran West also finished near the top in total pins in the least amount of time. The Longhorns were second in that category with 10 pins in 19 minutes, 43 seconds.
Junior Catie Kerr of Lutheran West will make her third straight trip to state after placing second at 120 pounds.
Kerr went 3-1 with two pins.
“I’m so glad I have the opportunity to go to states for the third year in a row,” Kerr said. “I don’t think my season would’ve felt complete if I didn’t make it because I’m so used to going now.”
Last winter, Kerr finished third at 116 pounds and then went to Columbus and finished 1-2 for the second straight season at the state tournament.
This winter, Kerr is more confident than ever and understands what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
“Multiple people had told me that this was it and to just have fun and leave everything out on the mat and I think that advice really helped me get where I needed to be mentally in order to pull out the wins I had,” she said. “This sport isn’t just extremely physical but so much of it is also mental, and you can’t break mentally because as soon as that happens, you lose. I made sure I was ready mentally more than anything else.”
After flattening her first two opponents, Kerr got all she could handle from Keystone’s Lydia Gould in the semifinals.
Gould recorded the first takedown of the match but Kerr earned a reversal and three back points to lead 5-2 after the first period. Kerr made it 6-2 with an early escape in the second but Gould scored another takedown to cut Kerr’s lead to 6-4. A reversal gave Kerr an 8-4 lead heading into the third period. Gould chose to start the third in the neutral position and took Kerr down to her back for a 9-8 lead with less than a minute remaining in the match.
Once again, Kerr reversed Gould to her back to win, 12-9.
“I was so relieved I pulled out that win that I actually started crying,” Kerr said. “I don’t think it processed in my mind what actually happened until I saw my coach afterwards smiling and tearing up because I actually did it. I had been really nervous and I knew the girl I was going against was good competition, so the fact that I pulled it out couldn’t have made me happier.”
Kerr’s run came to an end in the championship bout when Akron Manchester’s Jaydyn McKinney pinned her in the first period.
Always the optimist, Kerr looks at that loss as a learning opportunity.
“That final match taught me that sometimes we don’t win them all, but from those losses we need to figure out our mistakes and make sure to not make those same mistakes again,” she said. “For the next week, I’m going to practice extra hard and get where I need to be in order to make it as far as I can.”
Brooklyn’s Sofia Collins placed third at 110 pounds after finishing fifth last winter. Lutheran West’s Nat Rodriguez (140), Jaeyla Reyes (145), and Paris Willis (170) also finished third at their respective weight classes and will wrestle in Columbus next weekend.
Harvey’s Melany Herrera finished fourth at 100 pounds and will make her second straight trip to the state tournament.
Finishing fifth—and serving as state alternates—were Harvey’s Veronica Pacheco (105) and Lutheran West’s Lo Zielinski (135).
Zielinski recorded the tournament’s fourth-fastest pin when she stuck an opponent in 24 seconds.
Harvey’s Leziett Garay (125) and Lutheran West’s Brianna Marich (135) both placed sixth.