By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary had just two girls in its wrestling program this season.

The Celtics will soon have many more.

Nine girls wrestled for Whiteaker Middle School. Four, Ella Repp, Destiny Rodriguez, Elana Torres and Kayly Montero even got into the varsity lineup.

They joined the team for different reasons.

Repp’s two brothers competed at McNary. Rodriguez’s father wrestled and she begged him to go to practice at Celtic Mat Club after watching her cousin wrestle. Hope Soichy’s uncle and cousins wrestled. Isabella Moore’s older brothers also wrestle, one at Whiteaker and another at McNary.

Destiny Rodriguez wrestles in a match earlier this season. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Reyna Terrazas, who did kickboxing and jiu-jitsu when she lived in Las Vegas, was recruited by Repp.

Montero played football at Whiteaker and wanted to give another sport a try.

Wolverines head wrestling coach Kelly Hafer said he saw Torres throwing a boy down during bus duty and asked her to join the team.

And Pacee Wirt said, “I  just got tired of people telling me I was a girl and I couldn’t play boy sports.”

All of the girls are glad they gave the sport a try and most plan on wrestling in high school.

“I think this is my sport,” said Wirt, who has also played softball, volleyball and basketball. “I didn’t like them as much as wrestling.”

“When I won my first match my dad was so proud of me,” added Moore.

Three of the girls competed in the middle school girls state tournament in Hood River on Feb. 18. Repp placed second at 80 pounds, Soichy finished third at 152 and Torres took fourth at 110.

Rodriguez, who has won state championships in collegiate, freestyle and Greco, wants to wrestle in the Olympics. Women’s wrestling debuted in the summer games in 2004 and then trickled down to colleges and high schools.

Just in Oregon, Warner Pacific, Southern Oregon, Pacific, Eastern Oregon and Umpqua Community College all have women’s programs.

“Women’s wrestling scholarships are the No. 1 unclaimed scholarship in college athletics,”McNary head wrestling coach Jason Ebbs said. “There really is a tremendous amount of potential for a girl that’s willing to commit that type of energy.”

On the high school level, Oregon currently has a girls state tournament exhibition but there’s a push to follow in the footsteps of Washington and move the tournament past exhibition status and make it official.

At McNary, both girls and boys have the same shot at making the varsity lineup. Last year, freshman Brooke Burrows wrestled at 106 pounds.

“It’s not boys wrestling. It’s not girls wrestling. It’s wrestling,” Ebbs said. “Brooke wrestled varsity for us because she was the best 106 pounder we had last year.”

Burrows then went on to win the girls region tournament and wrestled in the girls state tournament. She missed this season after suffering a knee injury playing soccer.

“She did a good job for us and we’re excited to get her back next year,” Ebbs said.

Freshmen Vio Evangelista and Nicolette Parra wrestled for McNary’s junior varsity this season. Both also competed in middle school.

“We’re hoping to keep sending them up, making it fun,” Hafer said. “I’d love to see McNary field a girls squad.”