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Taylorsville Journal

Kearns girls grapplers bring home championship

Mar 25, 2019 03:40PM ● By Greg James

The Cougars won the state girls wrestling championship. Kelsey Taylor, Tania Batta, Saibyn Newell and Ashlyn Jepperson combined to bring home the title by one point. (photo courtesy of Kearns High School)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The wrestling team at Kearns High School won a state championship.

“It is awesome to do something that other girls don’t; it feels really cool,” Kearns sophomore Saibyn Newell said. “Most girls are scared of this, but I am just a wrestler. My coaches cheer for me just like any other wrestler—no special treatment or anything.”

Kearns came home with the victory by one point over Maple Mountain High School; Cyprus finished third. Kearns clinched the championship with senior Kelsey Taylor’s pin in her 140-pound title match. 

“When she stepped on the mat against the other girls, she was a completely different wrestler,” first-year Kearns head coach Antonio Meikel said. “Her confidence level shot through the roof. She got a chance to show her abilities.”

Taylor is also a student body officer at the school

“She has grown a lot this season,” Meikel said. “I am bummed I only got to work with her for one season. Her progress has been crazy. It is tough to lose so often during the season. Losing can wear you down. It shows to her character to keep going.”

Kearns had four wrestlers enter the tournament, fewer than some of the other schools participating. Cyprus entered 10 wrestlers, while Maple Mountain had nine. Some schools, such as Taylorsville and Hunter, were only represented by one athlete.

“Girls wrestling is not a sanctioned sport,” Meikel said. “These girls had to compete coed all season. They were constantly improving. I do not think there was ever a point where they took a step backwards. They took a lot of losses, but they never let it get to them. They stayed mentally strong and then when they had a chance to compete against the other girls they shined.”

Ashlyn Jepperson took third in at 120 pounds. She defeated Hailey Mobley from Parowan High School.

“Ashlyn is a senior and decided to check out the sport,” Meikel said. “She is also a cheerleader, so she would practice with us then run over to cheer at the basketball game.”

Newell, a sophomore, has wrestled for three years starting in junior high. She placed fourth at 130 pounds. 

“Saibyn is the youngest wrestler, the most experienced and the most technical of all the girls,” Meikel said. “Tania (Batta) is a junior, a multi-sport athlete. She had a finals match that I really stressed about. She went three periods for the first time all year. It was great.”

Batta placed second in the 135-pound weight division. 

“These girls are not just wrestlers, they do things in the school and community,” Meikel said. “They’re definitely leaders in the school. I don’t think is was different to coach the girls. I tried to treat them the same as the rest of the team as much as I could. I think they got more support than the guys on our team. There are a lot of life lessons you can take away from the sport. I would not be where I am today without wrestling. Guy or girl, the kids should come give it a try.”

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