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4A/3A/2A/1A title could be just the beginning for La Grande girls wrestling under former college star Krystal Fabricante

“Right now, our middle school has a surplus of girls. It’s looking really good.”

Once Krystal Fabricante finished her time at Eastern Oregon University as an NAIA national tournament qualifier, she knew she was ready to enter the coaching ranks.

After a year as a graduate assistant with the Mountaineers, she jumped at the chance to become the first girls wrestling coach at La Grande after the OSAA sanctioned it as a separate sport from boys wrestling. 

She wanted to serve as an example to the burgeoning Tigers program and impart lessons she thought a female coach who’d been a national contender could bring forth. 

“I like being able to identify what are things that I utilized myself, like body awareness and getting better positioning and attacks, being heavier with our hips because our center of mass is there,” Fabricante explained Friday night at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum after leading the program to its first OSAA Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championship.

It’s not that these lessons were not being taught before, she said, but just having that first-hand experience and personal story makes it relatable to the growing number of wrestlers entering the girls program.

Considering La Grande has been a wrestling hotbed for years, winning consecutive boys titles in 2022-23 and five overall, Fabricante believes the girls program — which won its first trophy (fourth) a year ago — can become something special.

“Right now, our middle school has a surplus of girls,” she said. “It’s looking really good, and hopefully they will implement what we’ve been teaching at the high school, so when they come over, they already understand those principles and key points in girls wrestling.”

La Grande girls wrestling 2024 Rene Ferran

The Tigers brought a meet-high 13 wrestlers to the Coliseum, and four finished on the podium, led by 115-pound champion Lyndie Isaacson, a junior who followed her victory over top seed Emmalee Brissette of Oakridge in the semifinals with a first-round pin of Crook County’s Taylor Echeverria in the final.

Senior Maleigha Azure reached the 125 final before falling to sophomore Bailey Chafin of Sweet Home, who’s halfway to becoming a four-time state champion.

Grant Union/Prairie City junior Mallory Lusco could beat Chafin to four-time status next winter after pinning another returning champion, North Valley’s Breanna Meek, with 11 seconds left in their 235 final. Lusco has won all 10 of her state tournament matches by fall.

Lusco and Chafin were among six returning champions to repeat Friday, joined by Oakridge sophomore Vanessa Keller (105), Crook County senior MaKenna Duran (120), Gervais senior Sariah Zepeda (135) and Vale senior Ava Collins (140).

Harrisburg, which finished second in the team standings for its first trophy, got titles from freshman Paxton Steele (110) and senior Hannah Henderson (155).

Duran and freshman Ylyana Sandoval (190) led the Cowgirls to a third-place finish, and Oakridge — with sophomore Kali Williams (130) also winning a title — and Grant Union/Prairie City tied for fourth. It was the first podium finish for Crook County and Oakridge.

Willamina junior Zoe Brewer finished a 39-1 season by winning a state title at 100, and Hidden Valley senior Megan Peterson defeated returning champion Jessica Williams of Vale in the 145 final. Freshman Jadyn Pense of St. Helens won the 170 crown. 

Vote for top wrestler of 4A/3A/2A/1A Girls state meet