The Wewahitchka Lady Gator wrestlers etched their names in the history books on Wednesday, Feb. 9, by winning the inaugural FHSAA District 1 championship.
They now advance to the regionals, to be held Saturday, Feb. 19 at North Bay Haven.
Assistant coach Tracy Malcolm, who has served as boys head coach since 2008, excitedly pointed out that, with only one senior on the team, Kaylee Easter, other teams should “watch out!” in future years.
Although this is the first year that the FHSAA has sanctioned girls wrestling as a competitive sport, Malcolm said Easter has been wrestling on the (boys) team for four years.
Malcolm gave credit to his assistant on the boys team, Jay Rushing, who also serves as the girls head coach.
“Coach Rushing has done a tremendous job with this group of wrestlers,” he said. “There were 17 teams in our district, and when the entire team medaled, it made us bolt (to the regionals).”
Easter, the only senior, won her 130-pound weight class, while younger sister Kameron, a seventh grader, placed second in the 100-pound class, as did sophomore Angel Williams in the 115-pound class, and seventh grader McKenzie Hatcher in the 140-pound class.
Another seventh grader, Zoey Sapp, in the 105-pound class, and sophomore Keeley Roberts, in 135 pounds, finished third, while seventh grader Taylor Angelino finished in fourth place at 110 pounds.
Five of the seven wrestlers are also on the weightlifting squad: both Easter girls, Hatcher, Roberts, and Williams.
At the regionals in North Bay Haven, Malcolm said he expects Wewa to finish among the top five teams, but that there would be “tough competition, (because) the region is so large, almost down to Orlando.”
Although there are three classifications in boys wrestling, Class 1A, 2A and 3A, there is just one Class 1A for the girls. “(There) will be potentially more than 60 teams competing at regionals,” said Malcolm. “It depends on who is coming.”
Meanwhile, wrestling will continue at the Wewa gym this Thursday, Feb. 17, when the Gator boys host the 1A District 1 tournament, beginning at 2 p.m. Central. Seven teams – Bay, Bozeman, North Bay Haven and Rutherford, from Panama, as well as Rocky Bayou Christian, from Niceville, and South Walton from Santa Rosa Beach – will be taking the mat vying for district medals.
Malcolm highlighted two boys to look for – freshman Jake Parker in the 106-pound weight class, and junior Conner Roberts at 152-pounds