Patriots’ wrestlers leave state battered, but better

February 19, 2013

By Sebastian Moraga

Her face was caked in sweat, her shoulders had mat burns and her nostrils were leaking red. And yet, Joanna Moreira could not stop smiling.

The Liberty High School wrestler had just defeated Angelica Vaschenko, from Franklin Pierce High School, in the second round of consolation at the state tourney in Tacoma. The win, a 12-8 tussle of wills, assured that the 137-pound Patriot from São Paulo, Brazil, would finish better at state than in 2012.

“This is a big accomplishment,” she said. “I wanted to be better than I was last year.”

WrestleMoreiraLHS 20120215

Joanna Moreira, Liberty High School sophomore, complete with nosebleed, is declared the 10-5 winner over Centralia’s Jenna Gillaspie in her first-round, 137-pound bout during the state 3A wrestling championships Feb. 15 at the Tacoma Dome.
By Greg Farrar

In 2012, a freshman Moreira had lost in the second round of consolation. This year, she finished eighth. A week earlier, she had finished third at regionals in Sedro-Woolley, improving her 2012 performance by one spot.

“I would love to come off every match and say I did my best,” she said after regionals. “I would love to place at state this year.”

No wonder she was smiling under the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome, then.

As her nose would attest, the road to the podium in Tacoma was not without its bumps. Moreira started the tourney by beating Centralia’s Jenna Gillaspie, 10-5. She then lost to eventual fourth-place finisher Juliana Trujillo, of Lakeside, by pin in the first.

After Moreira defeated Vaschenko, she lost to eventual fifth-place finisher Jamilah Ahmath, of Rochester, in the third round of consolation, 4-2, and lost to Warden’s Alexys Jolley by pin in the third, during the match for seventh place.

Moreira was not the only Patriot feeling rather satisfied with her, or his, performance at state. Conner Small, wrestling at 152 pounds, finished fifth.

“I think I went out there with more aggression,” Small said after his defeat of Jacob Elledge, of Glacier Peak, hours after a painful 5-1 loss to Stanwood’s Zach Schut had sent Small to the consolation bracket.

“I was intimidated by him,” Small said of Schut. “I knew he was big. He was a senior and all that stuff. I went out there with intimidation, which I probably should not have.”

The intimidation factor was gone, Small said, when he met Schut again, in the fifth-place match. Small said his coaches and his dad helped him stay focused when facing Schut again.

“I wrestled my hardest and got the outcome that I worked all year for, and I owe a huge thank-you to my coaches, friends and family,” he wrote in an email Feb. 17.

Small won 6-3. His win closed the book on a tough but promising campaign for Liberty wrestling.

“It was a long year,” head coach Manny Brown said days prior to the state tournament. “We lost some of our wrestlers to injuries before we even started. We lost some senior leadership with some wrestlers who did not finish out the year. It was a long year, but we are going to learn from it.”





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