REEDSPORT — Expectations and confidence are high in the Reedsport wrestling room among two of the top girls wrestlers in the area.
Divinity Farris and Yesenia Velazquez, a pair of 126-pound sophomores, prepare for the girls state qualifier on Friday and Saturday at Thurston High School in Springfield and are hopeful they can escape from the tough district and be the two representatives at the girls state tournament from the southern part of the state.
“It’s awesome,” Reedsport coach Bo Hampton said. “They make the boys in the room tougher. They’re tough girls. They wrestle just like the guys do. There’s really no difference, they just wrestle in a different classification.”
Both are excited to see how they stack up against other girls in the state after a season of those matches being few and far between.
“On a scale of 1-100, probably a 75,” Velazquez said of her confidence level. “I haven’t wrestled many girls, so I don’t know what the competition’s like. But I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better.”
Despite sub-.500 records, both Farris and Velazquez are more than capable to qualify.
Farris won the Springfield Invitational in early December and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for her weight range, sending her on a season that attracted some college coaches to the youngster.
It’s pushed Farris to a confidence level entering the do-or-die portion of the schedule where she isn’t at all worried about qualifying.
“I try to just not get nervous and tell myself I can do it, and to push myself so that I’m able to do what I need to do," Farris said. "I try to hold my nerves, I try to hold that back.”
Velazquez is a slightly different personality. She, too, has had a solid season, though minus the tournament win.
That doesn’t discourage the sophomore, but she can be her own worst enemy. She isn’t thinking about the qualifier more than she has to, as it makes her nervous.
“I’ll be nervous when I first get there, then I start wrestling and the nerves will go down,” Velazquez said.
In the first season of fully-sanctioned girls wrestling in the OSAA, the state tournament is obviously an opportunity not seen before.
The state has had an unsanctioned girls championship tournament in recent years, with the winners determined on championship night of the main tournament, but this is the first year its sanctioned, and also the first year the girls had to declare which tournament they were going to try to qualify in.
Both Farris and Velazquez qualified for last year’s boys tournament after falling short of the small entries for the girls-only championship.
They chose to try to advance in the girls division this year, hoping to see some more equal competition after they lost their contested matches at state last year (Velazquez did win one match by forfeit).
“When I qualify for girls state, I feel like I have a better chance to place what I want than I would with the boys,” Farris said. “Either way I still try my hardest.”
But it's not any easier than last year, since still only two girls will qualify from the loaded southern part of the state. Officials expect 150 to 200 girls to compete in the qualifier, an average of 15 to 20 per weight class.
Both Farris and Velazquez want to qualify for the state tournament to add to their portfolios, as it were. Hampton also plans to take them to Fargo, North Dakota, for the National Freestyle Championships, a place where they can garner some serious attention from college coaches.
Hampton said that the pair are not only quality wrestlers, but quality students as well as people, making them viable candidates to move on.
“Their options have opened up a lot as far as wrestling in college,” Hampton said. “Both of them are good academically and athletically. They have the grades where they can go to those bigger schools. And they’re good wrestlers to go along with it. And then they work really hard, too. You put all of that together and they have the full package going.”
Reedsport has three girls in the mat room this year. Emily Brown also is competing for the Brave.
North Bend also has a pair of girls set to compete this weekend, Madalyn Hampel and Molly Picatti, but both are first-year wrestlers and coach Garrett Caldwell said his hope for them is to gain valuable experience for the future.
Myrtle Point has Jordan Blanton and Siuslaw and Brookings-Harbor also have had girls competing this winter.
The tournament begins at noon Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.