Liberty girls ranked first heading to state tournament

Mar. 1—On Saturday, the sport of girls wrestling in West Virginia will take a significant step forward when they get to share the state tournament spotlight with the boys for the first time.

That's a big advance from the first four years.

"I remember last year there was soccer practice going on on the other half of the gym," Liberty coach Cole Blankenship said.

Days like those are over. The girls state tournament will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Mountain Health Arena in Huntington. The girls matches will be held on four mats, with the boys consolation matches on the other four.

Then, at 6 p.m., there will be three mats for the championships — boys Class AAA and Class AA/A, and a third for the girls.

"It's great that the girls finally get to experience that same state tournament atmosphere that the guys get to experience," Blankenship said. "Years past it was its own event at a separate location, essentially in like a high school gym. It's the state tournament, but it really doesn't have the same affect being in the arena, you're doing weigh-ins with all the other kids.

"It's an event, the state tournament. I'm glad the girls get to experience it."

And Blankenship's team is in position to have a successful night.

The Raiders girls are No. 1 in the final girls team rankings of the season. They have seven wrestlers entered in the tournament.

"I think the girls have a real shot to, I don't want to say win it, but I think they have a real chance to win it if they wrestle well," Blankenship said.

Liberty goes in with two No. 1 seeds, including senior Karlie Osborne at 132 pounds. She won the 138-pound state championship last season.

Also seeded first is sophomore Lucy Farris at 152.

"A really good opportunity for them to score a lot of team points and maybe even walk away with a team championship. Who knows?" Blankenship said.

The Liberty program has come a long way since Osborne was a sophomore, when she and now fellow senior Maddy Lucas — seeded third at 235 — walked into the mat room as first-year wresters.

"I'm really proud of my team," Osborne said. "Me and Maddy, I didn't even know if we'd stay with it because it is a really hard sport. And then our second year we ended up getting a lot more girls.

"It's always so much fun. There hasn't been a girl to walk in there yet and say they were going to quit or that they couldn't do it. Everybody's so competitive. They're just all super good, especially our first-year wrestlers."

Also entered for Liberty are sophomore London Cook (100), senior Rylei Belcher (138), sophomore Emma Hartshorn (145), sophomore Katie Mullens (152) and freshman Allie Bowles (185).

Other seeded area wrestlers are Shady Spring senior Brooklynn McClure (second, 100), Oak Hill sophomore Kirclyn Coleman (second, 120), Greenbrier East freshman Maya Frank (fourth, 120), Independence senior Kenzi Mayor (third, 126), Nicholas County junior Zoee Meadows (fourth, 132), Nicholas County junior Makenzie Hanshaw (third, 138), Princeton freshman Emily Morris (fourth, 145), Oak Hill freshman Kya Osborne (third, 152), Princeton junior Brooke Bennett (fourth, 185) and Princeton junior Claire Holt (fourth, 235).

Also representing the area will be Nicholas County freshman Jenna Kelly (100), Shady Spring junior Clara Day (107), Midland Trail sophomore Kyndal Parsons (107), Nicholas County freshman Journee Meadows (114), Oak Hill freshman Audrey King (114), Princeton freshman Noah Ellison (114), PikeView freshman Addi Peck (120), PikeView sophomore Lola McKinney (120), Nicholas County sophomore Rose Hudkins (126), PikeView freshman Zoey Tupper (126), Greenbrier East sophomore Ta'Naya Sanchez (132), Shady Spring senior Kamryn Ciochetty (132), Oak Hill freshman Destiny Demoss (132), Nicholas County freshman Saraia Lawson (132), Princeton junior Talia Flack (132), Greenbrier East freshman Elizabeth Blankenship (132), Shady Spring junior Abigail Honker (145), Greenbrier East senior Josie Bennett (152) and PikeView sophomore Abby Hedrick (152).

Nicholas County and Shady Spring are tied for seventh in the state, and Princeton is tied with Spring Valey for ninth.

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