Perfect season for Panther wrestler

Abby Lees earns second state championship

Four years. Four finals. Two state titles.

In a nutshell, that’s Abby Lees’ legacy.

Runner-up as a freshman, champion as a sophomore, upset in the finals as a junior, back on top her senior year.

Lees said it’s a pattern, but it’s not that simple.

“It takes a lot of practice, sweat, blood. All of that,” she said. “I like to find corners and listen to my music so I could get away from the crowd. Anything you can find to get into your own zone is what you should do.”

After a 30-0 season, more than 100 wins in her career and another state title Saturday, Lees has become one of the greatest Washougal High School wrestlers. And since her coaches are storytellers, her legacy will live on in Panther tales of success, failure and redemption.

“Abby’s got a heart so big, it hardly fits in her chest,” said head coach Heather Carver. “She is an inspiration for all the girls to see what happens when you work hard and you wrestle just to wrestle.”

Carver then began listing off Lees’ accomplishments.

“She had an incredible season at a weight class where we is giving up at least 30 pounds,” Carver said. “Ultimate Iron Man, Honor Roll, over 100 wins. Just an all-star citizen and an all-star person.”

Lees pinned all four of her state tournament opponents in the first round Friday and Saturday, at the Tacoma Dome. She finished off Federal Way’s Mariah Stewart in the 235-pound championship match in 90 seconds.

“Having never wrestled her before, I was kind of nervous,” Lees said. “I don’t know what she does? I don’t know any of her moves. Her match before lasted 20 seconds. I had to wrestle the match how I wanted to wrestle it.”

Lees’ state title helped the Washougal girls wrestling team finish in 10th place out of 123 schools at the state tournament.

WHS senior Morgan Ratcliff pinned Hanford’s Libby Graham for seventh place in the girls state 145-pound bracket.

“I just knew I had to win for my family, for my friends and for my team,” Ratcliff said. “Wrestling just helps with your personality, in general. It makes you tough. It makes you determined. It makes you a hard worker. I will cherish these traits for the rest of my life. I’ll use them in everything.”

Tanner Lees finished in fourth place and Nick Wolfe notched seventh place at 145 pounds. It has been a long time since two Panthers brought home state medals from the same weight class.

“It just makes me proud knowing as a teammate, I helped him get all the way up to this point,” Tanner Lees said. “We both pushed each other to see how far we could get.”

Lees defeated Renton’s Michael Stewart 19-3 in the first round and pinned Blaine’s Matt MaCauley in the quarterfinals. Although Lees lost in the semifinals, he bounced back by beating Orting’s Austin Spader 11-5 to ensure a fourth-place finish.

After losing in the opening round, Wolfe won his first state tournament match in overtime. And then, he won again by one point. Wolfe pinned Cheney’s Francisco Martinez for seventh place.