PREP WRESTLING: Determined and confident Miners find success on mat
They are determined, skilled, hard working and confident. They’ve tested their ability against the best in the region and proven themselves among the elite. They are Sarah Skotnicki, Myra Walker, Amanda Beall and Mackenzie Morgan, and they’ve been forces to be reckoned with on the mat all season for the Nevada Union wrestling team.
“Our varsity girls are very caring individuals, they have big hearts, their happy to help each other, and they’re really good leaders,” said Nevada Union wrestling head coach George Woodward. “They’re a squad that likes to have fun. But, they work hard, and are learning what it’s like to push themselves.”
The four Lady Miners grapplers, two juniors and two seniors, have made their way through some of the toughest tournaments in the region, earning medals and building confidence every step of the way.
“It’s been about building my confidence,” said Skotnicki, a senior who won just one match her freshman year but has been regular medalist at tourneys this season. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence my first year, but with Woodward, he’s been helping me out, helping build my confidence, and also the experience of all the matches, it’s all built on itself.”
Skotnicki, who wrestles in the 150-pound weight class, has second place finishes at the Casa Roble Invitational, the No Guts, No Glory tourney and at the Tokay Lady Tigers Invitational this season. She also took fourth at the West Coast Tournament of Champions, and was sixth at the highly competitive Napa Valley Girls Classic.
“Sarah is probably the smartest wrestler we have,” said assistant coach Bron Fariss. “She’s made the fewest mistakes this year. When I look back at the match for technical errors, Sarah rarely has any.”
NU’s other standout senior is Walker, who first started wrestling last season, and has dedicated herself to the sport and took part in the prestigious JROB 14-day intensive wrestling camp over the summer in preparation for this season.
“Myra is fearless,” said Fariss. “She thinks she can beat anybody. When you have that kind of mentality, you can upset a lot of people.”
Walker, who competes in the 160-pound class, was third at the Casa Roble Invitational, fourth at the West Coast Tournament of Champions, fourth at the No Guts, No Glory tourney and fifth at the Lady Tigers Invitational.
“My goal is to get first at state. If I set my goals high, I’ll go farther,” said Walker. “My smaller goals are to place higher at Masters and to beat the two girls, who are the only two that have beat me this year.”
Beall, a junior who wrestles at 137-pounds, is now in her third year on the team and is determined to continue improving.
“My first season, I just fell in love with it and it came naturally,” she said. “My second season, I was like, ‘OK I can actually go somewhere with this.’ I got five first place medals my second year, and I realized I wanted to take this seriously and I joined a traveling women’s team. The level of determination has really grown for me, and the love for the sport itself. It’s really become a love for me to wrestle.”
Beall was third at the Casa Roble invite, fourth at the Lady Tigers Invitational and was eighth at the Napa Valley tournament.
“Amanda is probably the hardest working of all of them,” said Fariss. “She just goes and goes and goes and goes.”
Woodward added, “She feels like she is capable of competing with anyone that steps on the mat with her. I think all of them feel that way.”
Fellow junior wrestler Mackenzie Morgan rounds out the Miners’ fierce four.
“She’s really tough,” said Woodward. “It’s 100% and that’s it. She goes all out and that’s it.”
Morgan was also a member of NU’s state qualifying cross country team and said there is some crossover between the sports.
“It’s a similar mindset,” she said. “Just stay focused, and once you start, you don’t think about anything else. Wrestling’s a lot shorter, but a lot more physically demanding.”
Morgan, who wrestles in the 116-pound class, has a fourth place finish at the No Guts, No Glory tourney and fared well at all her other tourneys.
Fariss said a focus on the mental aspects of wrestling has greatly benefited the four this season.
“Their technical ability has improved and what we’ve been focusing on a lot more this year is the mental aspects. We’ve also been working on tournament strategy, and it’s been paying off,” Fariss said. “You can go out there and throw forth a huge effort, but if you’re not being smart about it, it’s not going to get you the results you want. We’ve been a lot smarter this year.”
Woodward added, “They’ve placed at just about every tournament they’ve gone to, and we really stepped up the game as far as the tournaments we’re taking them to. All the tournaments we’re taking them to this season are qualifying tourneys for seeding for girls regionals.”
The four are a close-knit group, always aiding each other and pushing each other.
“As a whole, they’ve come together really well,” said Woodward. “They’re close, they practice well with each other and they practice hard with each other. Sometimes to the point where they get a little frustrated with each other, but that’s good, because they’re giving each other actual battles on the mat. When it’s all over, they hug it out and it’s all good. It’s just a good practice.”
Beall added, “The wrestling team is very much like a family. We support each other, we’re friends, when anyone needs anything everyone tries to help.”
The Lady Miners have just a few more tourneys left, including one this Saturday at Del Oro, before the postseason tourneys get going. The Sac-Joaquin Section’s Girls Regional Qualifier is set for Feb. 14-15. The Section’s Masters tourney is set for Feb. 21-22, and the State Championships in Bakersfield is Feb. 27-29.
“Realistically, we could have four girls going to (the state championships),” said Woodward. “Realistically, they could place at state. If their head is right and they are wrestling tough and get through without any injuries, I think they all can medal.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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