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GIRLS WRESTLING: Logansport's Gibson, Zagal ready for State Finals

Jan. 10—Girls wrestling will be an official IHSAA sport starting next school year, according to Logansport athletic director Brian Strong.

The IHSAA designated girls wrestling an "emerging sport" this school year and participation has exploded because of that, the South Bend Tribune has reported. According to the newspaper, there are now more than 1,000 girls competing statewide.

The IHSGW has held a state tournament for girls that mimics the IHSAA wrestling tournament since 2017. This year there were 16 regionals that fed into four semi-states, which has fed into the state finals.

Logansport had two wrestlers advance to the state meet, which will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Memorial Gym in Kokomo.

Senior Marcy Zagal will compete in the 130-pound weight class and sophomore Olivia Gibson will compete in the 115-pound weight class for the Berries. Zagal and Gibson are among the final 16 in their respective weight classes in the state. They need one win to earn a state medal.

Logansport coach Sam Fry said the wrestling team has four girls on the team this year and that number could grow in the future.

"We sent three to the regional and two out of the three made it to semi-state and two out of two made it on to state," he said. "We should have had more. We had another one who was injured who couldn't go. We should have had four. I've got a bunch of girls who coming into middle school want to come out and try it. So hopefully they stay. I think as we develop it more and get more girl-only events and stuff like that I think more girls will be apt to come out. I think a lot of them are held back by the fact they don't want to wrestle against boys."

Zagal won the Winamac Regional title and placed third at the Penn Semi-State to advance.

Zagal lost her semifinal match to a Kankakee Valley wrestler that might have cost her a semi-state title.

"She threw a headlock and it's a middle school move to throw a headlock," Zagal said. "I defended it the first time and then the second time it just caught me off guard and I just couldn't get out of it. I was very disappointed."

She went on to finish third at the semi-state and is looking forward to her first state meet.

"This time I'm actually nervous," she said. "I wasn't nervous for regionals, I wasn't nervous for semi-state. I feel like now this is where it's going to get a lot harder. I'm going to wrestle girls with experience and wrestle girls who put a lot of work in."

Zagal said she's put together her best season of wrestling.

"I definitely feel like I've pushed myself over the limits for this sport many times just this season," she said. "I definitely put in the work this year. I've never made it past regionals any other year and I've been wrestling since my freshman year. I think my work has shown."

Zagal has seen the sport grow in a short amount of time.

"I was talking to the coaches, I think it's crazy, my freshman year it was only semi-state and state. Three years later now we have regionals, semi-state, state. I just think that's really cool," she said.

Gibson placed third at the Winamac Regional and fourth at the Penn Semi-State to advance to her first state finals.

"It was an experience getting fourth at semi-state. It was rough but I worked through it and made it through," she said. "The last two girls, they were strong. They obviously have a little more technique there. That's just going to make me work harder in the room and make me better for state.

"Goals, just get past my first match and keep going from there."

Gibson added she's happy to see she's in a sport on the rise.

"More girls wrestlers, it's just for the better. It's going to keep getting bigger and better and it's going to dominate."

Her father, Josh Gibson, is an assistant coach for the LHS wrestling team.

"She's seen some girls in middle school but now we're seeing a lot more girls now," he said. "I think we're over almost 2,000 girls in the state of girls wrestling. Some of these tournaments that they're hosting they're 350 girls in these tournaments so it makes it a long day and double bracketing and stuff like that.

"She's won more matches this year with the boys than she did last year, just from getting stronger and getting skills up, technique. Technique beats strength every day. A lot of times just in general it's getting her in the right weight class for her because the higher you go the more boys are stronger. It makes it a little difficult. Where she's at, she's in a good weight class, even moving to the sectional of the boys and possibly getting to a regional."

Fry is looking for Zagal and Gibson to compete well on Friday.

"Marcy actually could have been first place at semi-state, she just happened to meet the first-place girl earlier in and that match could have gone either way. She's got a real shot I think at the state of placing high," he said. "Olivia has a good chance, it just depends how her draw goes, who she meets up with early on. But they've got to win their first match and then it's on to placement."

Zagal and Gibson often wrestle against boys this year. That could change next year if Logansport has a girls-only team, depending on how the IHSAA sets up the rules.

Zagal is a senior who plans to join the Army after high school. Gibson is just a sophomore.

"They hold their own. I think wrestling against boys is what makes them so tough when it comes to the girls tournament is they've already had that competition and they're ready to go," Fry said.

Fry added throughout history girls have had some success wrestling against boys in the IHSAA Tournament.

"There's been three in the history of the state that have made it to the state tournament. Nobody's ever made it out of the Friday night first round," he said. "The last one I think was Kayla Miracle who was out of Culver and she just won a bronze medal at the last Pan Am Games. So she's one of the top in the world. We had a girl from West Lafayette, Rose Kaplan, who made it semi-state last year. I think she's trying to push for that again this year. She's one of the top ranked girls in the nation.

"Olivia has wrestled the younger sister, Isabel [Kaplan]."

The Logansport wrestling team as a whole is a program on the rise. The Berries won the North Newton Invitational last Saturday. Logansport, Benton Central and Hammond Central all went 4-1 on the day. The Berries won on tiebreaker criteria with 19 pins to Benton Central's 18 and Hammond Central's 18.

"That puts us at 8-9 for overall dual record on the season," Fry said. "So if we can win Thursday against Marion and Tuesday against Lewis Cass we'll have a winning record for our season in duals which is a pretty big accomplishment given that we started the season out at a tournament where we wrestle five of the top ranked teams in the state. So we kind of clawed our way out. That would be our first winning record in I think over a decade. This was our first tournament win since I think 2015, so nine years. The program is really emerging. It's a good time to be hitting your peak because we have conference this weekend and we've got sectionals in two weeks. So everybody is starting to hit form and get into the right weight classes.

"We're 8-9 but we tied Lafayette Jeff, we lost by one match against Kokomo, lost by one match against Hammond, lost by one match against Winamac. So we're right there with the competition."