There might not have been anyone happier to see the WIAA hold its first-ever Girls State Wrestling Tournament Saturday in La Crosse, Jan. 29, than River Falls wrestling coach Kevin Black
“It's been a long time coming,” he said. “I just was really pleased to see how it all turned out. And I think that it could be bigger and better. But it sure was good to get started.”
Black should know. He’s been a proponent of female wrestling not only in the state and nation, but internationally, serving as a World Team and Olympic coach since 2007. He was matside coaching Helen Maroulis to an Olympic Gold Medal in 2016.
“Everyone was smiling,” Black said about Saturday’s inaugural event at the La Crosse Center. “There were some tough losses, but for the most part it was just a great first time for many people.”
Sophomore Jenna Lawrence was the lone River Falls representative at the first state tourney while Hudson had two girls competing– freshman Natalie Klavetter and sophomore Karsyn Michaelson. St. Croix Central junior Emma Ocegueda was also there.
Klavetter made history as Hudson’s first medal winner, placing fifth in the 120 pound weight class. Hudson coach Chris Hansen said once they saw the backet, fifth place became the goal for Klavetter, and she reached it.
“The reason for that is we knew we would face No. 1 ranked Caitlyn Kelley in the quarterfinals,” Hansen said. “Kelley had already beat us twice during the season and if she lost that, the best she could do was fifth.”
Michaelson lost her first two matches at 126, but Hansen said he was proud of how both girls wrestled.
Lawrence went 3-2 on the day competing at 114 pounds, with all three of her victories coming by pins.
St. Croix Central’s Ocequeda also went 3-2 at state wrestling in the 138 pound weight class, including a second-round loss to eventual champion Marissa Roth of Bruce.
Hansen described it as awesome to be in attendance at the first-ever WIAA Girls State Wrestling Tournament. And like Black, said it was a long time coming.