Paul Valencia: Girls celebrate third year of county tourney

Commentary: Paul Valencia

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Whoops. I messed up.

This past weekend celebrated the third Clark County Girls Wrestling tournament, not the second. The girls tournament runs in conjunction with the boys tournament.

There were some at the event, including me, who were under the impression that the first year of the girls tournament — in 2010 — was more of a showcase rather than an actual tournament. We were wrong.

First, a little background:

The number of girls in the sport continues to rise, but there are still some weight classes that do not have full representation in the county. Back in 2010, there were even fewer girls wrestling.

That year, the girls championship matches were held before the boys championship matches. In fact, it was such a low-key event, no one bothered to tell The Columbian when the girls finals were that year. I showed up for championship night, but the girls had already determined their champions. So I spent the next few hours talking to the winners from the boys tournament, while trying to track down all the girls winners.

By the end of the night, I had found everyone. One girl, I recall, had already left the gym, but one of her friends called her to say The Columbian was looking to talk to every champion. So that was cool that she came back for the visit.

Last year, and then again this year, the girls championship matches were held at the same time as the boys championship matches, giving wrestling fans two matches at once. This was a great move by tournament organizers, giving the girls the feel of championship night, sharing the spotlight with the boys.

Girls wrestling is here to stay. It is growing. The competition is getting better.

Hopefully next year, I’ll remember exactly the year girls wrestling became part of the Clark County Wrestling Championships. The inaugural tournament was 2010. The sport “arrived” with fair billing in 2011. Then it had another big night Saturday at Union High School.

So, for the record, Washougal won the team title in 2010, Battle Ground got it last year, then Washougal took it back on Saturday.

And going through the list of winners from 2010 through now, it can be noted that Stephanie Simon of Evergreen is a three-time winner at the Clark County Wrestling Championships.

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If you noticed my notes on The Columbian’s high school sports blog, you know I’m a big fan of the Clark County Wrestling Championships. Even though I am by no means an expert in the sport, and I’ll acknowledge a lack of love for wrestling duals, this tournament rocks. Same with regionals and, of course, Mat Classic.

But here’s something I want to throw out there: I understand that a district championship is quite an accomplishment for a wrestler, but if I were a wrestler, growing up in Southwest Washington, I would rather win a Clark County title than a district title.

The district tournament is the first postseason event that launches wrestlers on their way to regional, and then, hopefully, to state. However, in some district tournaments, second, third, and fourth-place finishes get you to regionals, too.

Clark County, officially, gets a wrestler nowhere. It is just an “exhibition.” The results mean nothing in regard to the postseason.

Still, that crown is cool. The best in all of Clark County. The competition is tougher than at district. Heck, look at the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League. The district champion will have to beat the best wrestlers from just four other schools.

I’d rather have bragging rights over the entire county than a small league.

• • •

Well, by the time you read this Wednesday morning, I hope there will be six inches of snow on the ground. If you don’t like snow, you’re too old.

My dream is that a major shift in weather patterns will turn Vancouver into Lake Placid, N.Y. for a few seasons. I would love to cover high school bobsledding one year.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valencia@columbian.com.