Central's Trona Bates signs to wrestle at Chadron State

May 1—CHEYENNE — The more time Trona Bates spent wrestling last summer, the more her passion for the sport deepened.

Eventually, the Cheyenne Central senior got to the point she knew she liked wrestling more than any of her other sports and wanted to pursue it at the college level.

"It got more serious during the wrestling season when I realized I loved going to practice and working hard every day," Bates said. "I got really serious about it and knew I wanted to wrestle in college."

Bates took a step toward her goal Wednesday afternoon when she put pen to paper on a letter of commitment with NCAA Division II Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

She initiated contact with Chadron's coaches, but later had other schools reach out to her. She was already leaning toward Chadron, but a visit to the campus during Laramie County School District 1's spring break clinched her commitment.

"The coaches were nice, welcoming and a little sarcastic, which is always a plus, in my opinion," said Bates, who wants to study dental hygiene at Chadron State. "That shows they're not always serious, and you can bond with them. The school is really nice, the dorms are really nice, and I was able to meet one of the girls on the team."

Bates posted a 39-31 record during her two seasons wrestling at Central. She was the East Regional champion at 105 pounds this season, and finished fourth in that weight class at the state tournament. She finished this season 26-17 overall.

"I'm still really new to the sport," she said. "I really want to continue on that path. ... The beginning of this wrestling season, I was going 1-2 or 2-2 at a lot of tournaments. I eventually got sick of it and committed myself to working hard and set the goal of being a state placer."

Central coach T.C. Muhlbach described Bates as "extremely coachable," and said her work ethic helped her achieve her goals in high school and will continue to help her reach her goals at the next level.

"She's gotten so much better because she's put in a lot of time wrestling after practice and in the offseason," Muhlbach said. "I know she'll be successful at the next level. It takes a while to learn wrestling, and she's only a second-year wrestler.

"She has a tremendous upside, and she'll put in the work, effort and time to get better. She comes from a wrestling family that knows what it takes to be successful."

Bates helped get Central's girls program heading in the right direction during its second year, Muhlbach added.

"She's an inspiration to a lot of young ladies who are going to wrestle," the coach said. "She shows that if you're coachable and put the hard work in that good things happen."

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.