Copper Hills girls wrestlers take second at stateFeb 24, 2021 02:21PM ● By Greg James
The first-ever girls wrestling team at Copper Hills placed eight girls in the finals and came home with four state champions. (Photo courtesy Copper Hills wrestling)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Utah High School Activities Association held its first-ever sanctioned girls state tournament, and Copper Hills placed second overall.
“I think our season went really well,” Grizzlies girls head coach Scott Pace said. “The girls worked hard and battled through a lot. They finished off strong.”
The Grizzlies had eight wrestlers in the final, and four came away with state championships.
Brooklyn Pace took first in the 115-pound weight class. She was voted wrestler of the tournament in the lower weight class. Meridien Grandpre won in the 124-pound class. Ashley Wilcox won at 136 pounds, and Anya Hatch won the 170-pound weight class.
The first-year team included 13 girls. Pace considers them pioneers in the sport.
“This team started this,” Pace said. “Their hard work and dedication and efforts will help create a dynasty that will continue on.”
The Grizzly team included some girls that had never wrestled before. Grandpre was a dancer.
“[Granpre] was an incredible wrestler,” Pace said. “She took her dancing skill, athleticism, and body awareness and turned into a tough wrestler.”
Hatch, a sophomore, never lost a match all season. She pinned three girls in the state tournament in less than four minutes total.
Lusimoni Vakalahi, Emma Williams, Alyssa Pace and Marquize Salguero all finished in second place. Jetta Nshoa placed fourth, and Kimberlyn Fowers sixth. BrLeigh Graham, Alisha Wilcox and Sky Langarica also competed.
“I wanted more girls on the team, but in a COVID-laden season, we felt good about that,” Pace said. “Lots of parents were worried about kids picking it up and bringing it home. There were lots of unique things about this season.”
The pandemic forced schools to prohibit fans from attending. Tournaments that have been two days in the past were reduced to one-day events. In the first sanctioned year, it made it hard for the sport to grow.
“We could have no fans,” Pace said. “Kids could not invite their friends to see what they were doing. It made it more difficult.”
In its inaugural season, just over 500 girls completed the hydration test to wrestle. Pace sees the possibility that there could be more than 1,000 next year.
“I think these girls have turned a lot of heads this year—not just our team, but every team had talented girls that worked very hard,” Pace said. “The state has taken notice and gotten behind it. The coaches are starting to see how impactful and what a benefit this can be for the girls. I think this year was an overwhelming success.”
The Grizzlies have several returning for next season, and Pace thinks the team will continue to grow.
“I am extremely proud of these girls,” he said. “It has been a unique and difficult year.”