SPRINGFIELD – The Thurston Colts girls wrestling team took first place at the 6A/5A District meet held at Thurston last weekend. The Colts barely beat out North Medford and Dallas to claim the district crown.
“I’ll be honest, I was a little concerned. At the start of the day, we started a little slow, and we lost a few matches I didn’t think we’d lose, but the girls rallied back,” said Mike Simons, Thurston coach. “It’s a tough group of girls, and they responded pretty well. We had a few girls get beat earlier in the tournament that came back and beat the second-place wrestler to get to state so that shows a lot of guts. That was pretty cool.”
Thurston, ranked No. 1 in the state for the combined 6A/5A group, didn’t expect to be tested this much in the district meet. That said, Simons said the group got back on their feet quickly.
“I mean, these girls responded. I’m pretty hard on them as a coach. I think they respect me, and I respect them. And they know that we started out a little slow,” he said. “I had to have a little talk with them and get them rallied a little bit. But they came back strong because we were behind. I think we were in third place at one point so they finished really well.”
Thurston was led by three first-place finishers: Kaylee Annis (110), Kristal Zamora (140), and Izabella Castleberry (145). Annis, Zamora, and Castleberry will now lead the charge to the state championships, where Thurston hopes to get back on top after winning back-to-back in 2020 and ’21 but coming in second last year.
“We have to do well, we need to just keep getting better each practice.I’ve come up with a little plan for each girl and what they need to improve on. There’s little things every practice, we try to pick a couple of things to get better at,” Simons said. “There’s so many things with wrestling, you think it’s just a simple sport, you go out and compete, but there’s so many little details, especially if you’re wrestling elite kids, and you just can’t make mistakes. But I think our girls will respond.”
Something Simons noted after the meet was the importance of hosting such an event. It’s a testament to the program and the wrestling community in Springfield that Thurston gets to host the girls and boys district championships, he said.
“It’s a big deal to our wrestling community out here. It’s a lot of work, let me tell you that. It’s easier to get on a bus and come rolling in,” Simons said. “I was here at four this morning, and we were here until 10:30 last night. So we put a lot of time in, but it’s well worth it to see a smile on these kids’ faces. It’s a big deal for them, so I just feel happy to be a part of it.”
In the other district meet at Cottage Grove, Allison Palluck (115) of Cottage Grove took first place, moving to 22-0 on the season, and Chantell Noffsinger (140) was the top finisher for Creswell in third.