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2024 state meet showcased continued growth of girls wrestling, but Thurston still stands atop 6A/5A: ‘We just gritted up’

“I knew we would score a lot of points, and we just kept winning on the backside”

On a night when three girls wrestling programs won their first trophies, it was one of the state’s traditional powers that took home the blue. 

Thurston added a third state title to its resumé Saturday night at the OSAA Class 6A/5A state championships at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, holding off Dallas to win by 34.5 points. 

“I knew we would score a lot of points, and we just kept winning on the backside,” said Colts coach Mike Simons, whose team finished second each of the previous two years. “We just gritted up. We brought 11, and nine placed.” 

Of those nine Colts to make the podium, only 155-pounder Izabella Castlebery won a title, earning a technical fall against Tigard’s Natalie Wilhoit in the final.

Castlebery, a sophomore, was one of seven nonseniors who medaled for Thurston, which is big as Simons looks ahead to a future that he helped bring about as one of the pioneers of the sport statewide.

“Nine of our 11 girls who qualified are coming back, and we’ll rebuild with new kids coming in,” he said.

Thurston girls wrestling Taylor Balkom

The other three teams to take home trophies did so for the first time in their programs’ histories.

The Dragons had five placers, including two-time champion Polly Olliff at 110, allowing them to hold off Redmond by four points. 

North Salem edged defending champion North Medford for fourth place, with senior Mariko Sonis (120) winning her second title.

The Black Tornado missed the podium despite having sisters Skyler (105) and Sadie (130) Hall win titles.

The growth of the sport showed as three schools had their first state champions crowned — Mountainside (junior Layla Morris at 115), Wells (sophomore Zorina Johnson at 125) and Liberty (senior Gracee Grenfell at 135 and junior Bianca Miranda at 235). 

Skyler Hall, Sonis and Olliff were joined by West Salem’s Reese Lawson (145) and McNary’s Ali Martinez (190) as repeat state champions.

Juniors Sarahi Chavez of McKay (100) and Kennedy Blanton of Forest Grove (140), both of whom were runners-up each of the past two years, won their first titles, as did Cleveland’s Isabel Herring (170). 

Mountainside was one of 13 schools that had their first medalists since the OSAA sanctioned the girls state tournament in 2019 — Aloha, Barlow, Central, Clackamas, Grant, Lebanon, North Eugene, Sherwood, South Albany, South Medford, South Salem and Tigard were the others.

Beaverton and Ridgeview, which had wrestlers place at the 2021 OWA summer state meet, had first-time OSAA medalists.

Vote for top wrestler of 6A/5A Girls state meet