Sports Zone, Springfield

DYNASTY: THS girls wrest another 5A title

PORTLAND – The Thurston Colts girls wrestling team is back on top after winning the Class 6A/5A Wrestling State Championship at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland last weekend. The Colts scored a girls state record 140.5 points over the two-day event, beating out Dallas (106) and Redmond (102) to secure the third state championship in program history – and the first since 2021 after second-place finishes the last two seasons.

“I’m excited for the girls, they worked hard.… It was a big deal (after the last two seasons). We lost our team leader from last year in three-time state champion Kaylee Annis, and it was kind of a group leadership role this year,” said Thurston coach Mike Simons. “Kaylee kind of led that team for three years, and we lost her. That was a big, big part of our program to lose. But the girls just stepped up and bought into what we were doing.”

Despite qualifying 11 wrestlers to the state tournament, and placing nine on the podium, the Colts had only one girl win an individual title, though it was in dramatic fashion. Sophomore Izabella Castleberry upset the top seed in the 155-pound bracket in the semifinals before facing off with Natalie Wilhoit of Tigard in the title match.

Once a wrestler is leading by 15 or more points, the bout is automatically over and classified as a technical fall. Castleberry went up 17-2 in points over Wilhoit in the finals, but the officials incorrectly let the round go on, and Wilhoit later pinned Castleberry for the win. After a short discussion though, the officials took away the pin and gave back Castleberry the win via tech fall.

“At first, I was like, I knew she had pinned me. But I was really proud that I stuck with it, because I didn’t give up or just roll on my back – I tried to defend. And then, because I saw the score (difference) was 11 I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I got two and then some back points along with that.’ So I was just really surprised. I was shocked myself,” Castleberry said. “This is way different than winning state champ in middle school for sure. It feels really good.”

Thurston sophomore Izabella Castleberry (right) embraces assistant coach Guy Harris after winning the state title in the Class 6A/5A 155-pound competition. Castleberry beat Tigard’s Natalie Wilhoit 17-2 to become the Colts’ only individual state champ of the competition.

Girls wrestling has held a state championship since 2019, though the 2021 state title was through the Oregon Wrestling Association as the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) didn’t hold a tournament due to Covid. Thurston’s 140.5 points broke the record for the most points by a girls team at the state championship – a record Thurston previously had with 107 points in 2021.

“I’m really, really happy. I’m really proud of everybody who wrestled, and it means a lot,” Castleberry said. “Being a part of that’s a huge deal for me. It’s a lot to process right now, but it feels really good. I love my team, and I love who I represent.”

The other podium finishers for the Colt girls were: Rubie Winterburn (100 pounds) and Kristal Zamora (140) in 2nd; Eily Asher (100), Teagan Merritt (110), and Emily Zerr (145) in 5th; and Kassidy Hadden (125), Allison Cummings (170), and Katelyn Dow (190) in 6th.

Out of Thurston’s 11 wrestlers at state, Winterburn and Dow are the only two who will graduate – and Simons isn’t afraid to admit the team’s already excited about its title defense.

“On Monday we’ll start getting ready for next year. That’s how it happens. And I know our kids are jacked up talking about wrestling camps, and they’re already excited to get back to it next year,” he said.



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