Medal of Panthers

Washougal girls gain fourth-place trophy

Abby Lees

Another Mat Classic. Another state championship match for Abby Lees.

It didn’t go the way the Washougal High School junior wanted, but Lees is determined to get back on top of the podium as a senior.

“This advice, I give to everybody,” she said. “It feels amazing to win. To get to this moment and lose is a terrible feeling, but it’s a good lesson. I have to work harder for next year.”

Lees trailed 3-0 heading into the last two minutes against Kacie Moorehouse, of Issaquah, Saturday, at the Tacoma Dome. The Panther fought off the mat and gained a reversal to cut the deficit to one point. Lees couldn’t keep Moorehouse grounded. She escaped and took Lees down one more time to solidify a 6-2 victory.

“If this works out, I’ll be really happy,” Lees thought when she made her big move and looked to take the lead during the final round. “Once I lost her, I realized I have to start lifting more weights. I couldn’t lift her arm. It was frustrating.”

This story is not just about Lees, it’s about the Washougal girl wrestling team. At the end of the meet, the Panthers stood on the podium in fourth place and brought home a team trophy.

Lees earned second place in the girls 170-pound state bracket. Morgan Ratcliff clinched third place at 140, Christina Murray finished in fourth place at 145 and Baylee Wright grabbed seventh place at 120. This helped the Panthers gain 70 points in the 124-team tournament.

Grandview won the state girls team championship with 92 points. Mt. Baker took second place with 73 points and Federal Way claimed third place with 70.5 points. Washougal was hot on their heels.

“I knew we had the team, fundamentals, skill and the heart to finish on the podium,” Ratcliff said. “And here we are, right up there.”

Ratcliff won four matches in a row after losing the quarterfinals. The Washougal junior pinned Mariya Gaither, of Rogers-Puyallup, in the consolation finals.

“It’s really cool to pin the girl in my medal match. There’s no better feeling than that,” Ratcliff said. “I hope to build off this win and come back even stronger.”

Murray outlasted three opponents by two or three points to reach the consolation finals.

“My goal was just to make it to state, and I got fourth. It’s so surreal,” said the Washougal senior. “It’s the best part of my high school season, hands down. Once you do wrestling, you can do anything.”

Wright edged Jaleen Roberts, of Kent Meridian, 5-4 to guarantee herself a medal. The Washougal senior shut out Korbyn Cadle, of Mt. Baker, 5-0 in her medal match.

“Winning my last match is really important. I’m glad I finished strong,” Wright said. “I’m happy that my team got fourth at state after winning region and sub-region. There’s nothing to hang my head down about.”

Leifsen lives up to family name

Taylor Leifsen is the second best Leifsen wrestler in Washougal history. The senior won his last high school match 10-2 to finish in seventh place in the 2A 152-pound state bracket.

Although Taylor wanted to place higher than fourth, where his uncle finished in 2001, he is thankful for the opportunity to wrestle in his first state tournament and thrilled to have a medal to look at for the rest of his life and remember.

“I worked a long time to get here and bring home a medal,” he said. “It’s something that not a lot of people get to do.”