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AHS girl wrestler makes it to Mat Classic
ARLINGTON — When Monterae Stapleton started school this year she never expected that she would end up competing in the 2013 Mat Classic XXV state wrestling meet at the Tacoma Dome, or even that she’d be wrestling at all. But the Arlington High School junior did exactly that — and was the only female Eagle wrestler to compete in the state meet.
“One of the coaches stopped me in the hallway and asked me my height, weight and grade. When I told him he said, ‘You’re going to wrestle!’ and I was like, ‘No,” said Stapleton, laughing. “He told me to come to practice just to see what it was like. So I did and I loved it.”
Head coach Rick Iversen said at the beginning of the season that he was adding more girls to the Arlington group, and hoped to slowly build up a strong girls wrestling team.
Although Stapleton loved wrestling from the beginning, it was not always easy.
“I definitely struggled with the moves at first,” she said. “There are so many little pieces you have to get exactly right to get the move. I’ve done the full nelson illegal so many times. The hardest part was, ‘Am I going to do good?’ ‘Am I going to pin her?’ ‘Is she going to pin me?’”
Another struggle was the strict weight requirements for the sport, where matches are based on weight class.
“I definitely had to lose weight, which was hard. One time I had to lose six pounds to make weight, and so I had no food, no water and just kept exercising,” she said.
Since she still has one more season of wrestling left, Stapleton has plans for making herself a better wrestler.
“I definitely want to learn more. I learned a lot throughout the year and I wish I had started earlier,” she said. “My coaches have said that I’ve become strong, but I need to think about what I’m doing first and achieve what I want.”
The first time she pinned someone is a memory that will stick with her forever, she said.
“It was at the Lady Wolfpack. I did a head and arm and a cement job and I pinned her,” she said. “It was awesome. My dad was crying he was so excited. My friends and family were all cheering and coach would not stop giving me hugs.”
Going to state was a big achievement for a first-year wrestler.
“It was huge. I was definitely nervous but very excited,” she said. “I saw the girls I was going to wrestle and thought, ‘I can do this.’”
Stapleton took first place in her weight class at the district meet and fourth place at regionals.
“The girl I wrestled in the first match was fifth at state in 2012, and the girl I wrestled in my second match was second at state in 2012. I almost got the first girl with a reverse head and arm,” she said.
Stapleton didn’t place at the state meet, but has made that her goal for next season.
“I will next year. It’s a huge honor. I felt like a leader to other girls who want to wrestle, other girls whose first year it is have a chance to go to state and have a chance to be something and do something great like I did,” she said.
Stapleton’s mother, Michelle Williams, said that in addition to being successful in the sport, wrestling has helped Stapleton off the mat as well.
“I have to admit I was surprised when I got the phone call and she said she wanted to join the wrestling team,” she said. “I think that this has done wonders for her self esteem. She’s been trying to find her place in this school that’s enormous. She came out of her shell a lot and is expressing herself more and is more physically fit. It’s the first thing that she’s found some pride in.”
Stapleton got her younger sister, freshman Chelan Stapleton, to join the team as well.
“She said it was a lot of fun and she wanted me to go out for practice,” Williams said. “It’s great because you can tell that you are losing weight and no one is ever judging you.”
“I used to think that wrestling was an individual sport, because it’s just you against another person,” she said. “But when you experience it, the whole team is there supporting you and cheering you on. I felt like I belonged there. It was like a family.”
Stapleton is looking forward to her senior year wrestling for the Eagles.
“I’m trying to get my moves perfect, especially one move that I have trouble with, and trying to get more fit. You have to be able to be flexible,” she said. “I want to get more girls to join and see if I can coach girls who need help. When it comes to state, I’ll just be happy if I place. My goal is to try my best right now so I can be my best.”