When it comes to girls wrestling, the Washougal Panthers are still the big cats of Clark County.
The defending champions scored 107 points to beat 15 other schools and stand on top of the mountain for the second year in a row Saturday, at Skyview High School.
Jessica Eakins, Erin Locke and Sara Sanchez were crowned individual Clark County champions. Yaneli Martinez and Katelyn Purkeypyle also reached the championship round, but settled for second place. Tara Duey and Romney Kellogg took third place, and Emily Alder-Storm finished in fourth place.
“It feels good to share this moment with my teammates,” Locke said. “We beat each other up in practice every day. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it. When everybody on the team works hard for the same goal and you get it, those are the moments when it really pays off.”
Locke looks forward to wrestling in this tournament every year because it is the one event where both the girls and boys teams from each school in the county are all wrapped up together.
“It’s so much fun to be surrounded by community, friends and family,” she said. “Even though we compete against each other, we feel united by the fact that we are all a part of Clark County.”
Locke pinned Skyview’s Natasha Williams in the 130-pound championship with a time of 1 minute, 32 seconds. She also pinned Heritage’s Kelcie Kysar in the semifinals and Columbia River’s Savana Gorame in the first round.
It only took Sanchez 49 seconds to pin Skyview’s Caitlynn Horricks in the 124-pound championship match. She also pinned Katie Lindstrom of Camas in the semifinals and Fort Vancouver’s Kaylee Hanson in the first round.
“My game plan was to keep calm and just wrestle sturdy and strong,” Sanchez said. “To be a county champion takes heart and mental toughness. If you put your mind to something, you can definitely accomplish it.”
A Washougal showcase kicked off the Clark County championship round, when Eakins and Martinez wrestled for the 100-pound championship. Both girls battled for leverage, before Eakins took Martinez down to the mat with a double-leg takedown and turned for over for the pin in 1:23.
“She’s definitely strong and she has a good heart,” Eakins said about Martinez. “Just the fact that we had two Washougal girls wrestling each other in the finals makes it memorable, and the friendship we have makes it even better.”
Although Eakins is just a sophomore, she already has two Clark County championship medals and has been a part of two county championship teams.
“So far, it seems like a tradition,” she said. “I’m happy and proud to be a part of it.”
Washougal finished in 14th place in the boys tournament. After losing his first match, sophomore Jesse Reagan defeated Heritage’s Jakob Skarison, Columbia River’s Conner Thun, Bryan Elliott of Camas and Hudson’s Bay’s Alex Ojeda for third place at 120 pounds. Washougal senior Josh Economides earned sixth place at 170 pounds.
The Panther boys wrestle at R.A. Long Wednesday before entering the Columbia Gorge Invitational Saturday, in Stevenson. The Washougal girls wrestle in the Emerald Ridge tournament Saturday.