SPRINGFIELD -- Two Marion High School female wrestlers recently qualified for the IWCOA (Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association) Girls Wrestling State Championships. The meet was for freshmen and sophomores.
Emma McGee, competing at 132 pounds, and Jade Napier, competing at 164 pounds, were the two recognized. Napier won the sectional tournament to qualify the week before. McGee placed third at the sectional, The top three at that meet advanced to the state championship.
At the IWCOA Girls State Championship
McGee's first-round opponent was Carla Garcia of Chicago Beat the Streets. McGee lost a tough 8-7 decision to drop into the loser's bracket. MCGEE knew her path way a long, tough road back and it started with a 6-3 win against Keira Dafnis of Waucounda. McGee next battled Hilda Gonzalez of Morton (Cicero), and pinned her in 2:38 to advance.
McGee's next opponent was Samantha Williams of Willowbrook, The talented Wildcat recorded another pin, this time in 0:55. She then earned another shot at Garcia with the winner advancing to the third-place match. McGee again wrestled Garcia tough and only trailed by a couple points as time wound down, She went for broke and yielded another score and lost a 10-5 decision. McGee finished in fifth place.
Napier received a bye in the first round based on her first-place finish at sectional. In her first match at state, she pinned Cheyenne Patterson of Gary Comer in 1:20 in the quarterfinals. She then lost her chance for a championship in her semifinal match against Jacqueline McCain of Larkin High School. Napier held an 8-5 lead deep in the third period when she turned McCain onto her back scoring more points,
As the official counted back points on McCain, he observed Napier lying on her back, too, Although in control, she lost by defensive pin. Napier redeemed herself against Hana Ataya of Nike's West High School, Napier dominated the match and recorded a pin in 3:16, advancing her into the third-place match.
Kassndra Perez from Larkin High School stood in Napier's way. The match was hard fought against two evenly matched opponents. The score was tied after the first period, Perez chose the down position to start the 2nd period, Napier controlled Perez and turned her to her back and appeared to score back points. The official counted back points then stopped the match as Napier's arm slid across Perez's throat, Perez was awarded a penalty point and the back points were waved off leaving Napier trailing 1-0 and the second period ended the same. Napier chose to start in the bottom position in the third period and recorded a quick escape to tie the score 1-1. Napier attacked hard from her feet and scored a takedown to give the Marion standout a 3-1 lead, Napier dominated Perez the remainder of the period, securing the 3-1 decision and third place.
Napier is the first Marion female grappler to place at the girls state wrestling tournament.
Marion Coach Darren Lindsey said this is the first year the Illinois High School Association has recognized girls wrestling as a separate sport. Girls are still allowed to compete with the boys. Lindsey said girls wrestling keeps growing and it was a big step for the IHSA to recognize the event, It is hoped that the IHSA will host a state tournament of its own next year.