Battle Ground senior is All-Region girls wrestler

Strano was lone local girls wrestling state finalist

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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More than she enjoys winning, Kassi Strano hates to lose.

"I'm pretty naturally competitive," she said. "We can't even play Monopoly at our house without me thinking I'm going to win."

The Battle Ground High School senior went to Tacoma for the state wrestling tournament intent upon winning a championship.

Rest of All-Region team

Haven Camden, so., Washougal: Placed seventh at 124 pounds at state tournament.

Erin Locke, jr., Washougal: Placed sixth at 130 pounds at state tournament.

Quinn O’Bryant, so., Prairie: Placed fifth at 100 pounds at state tournament.

Sara Sanchez, jr., Washougal: Placed fifth at 124 pounds at state tournament.

Mixtly Simon, sr., Battle Ground: Placed third at 190 pounds at state tournament.

Kearstin Williams, sr., Mountain View: Placed fourth at 170 pounds at state tournament.

She knew it would be a challenge. Rachel Archer of Winlock, a two-time defending girls wrestling state champion, was in the 106-pound weight class. Prior to the postseason, Strano considered dropping to 100 pounds.

But Strano's competitive streak won out. She figured beating Archer would be a crowning achievement.

That she didn't topple Archer -- losing 15-0 in the state finals to her friend -- didn't diminish the sense of accomplishment for Strano.

"I basically look at it as (Archer) is a better wrestler than me," Strano said. "She's put more time in. She's been doing it since she was little. She's a phenomenal athlete."

Strano was the only Clark County athlete to wrestle for a state title in the girls state tournament, an accomplishment that earns her The Columbian's All-Region girls wrestler of the year honor.

Strano first learned there was a girls wrestling program at Battle Ground from a church friend. She first convinced her dad that trying wrestling was a good idea when she was a sophomore.

Reaching the state finals this season was progress, especially with the hurdles Strano faced. There was the slight tear to the rotator cuff in her right shoulder, and there was the pneumonia that almost brought her season to a halt at regionals.

Her most satisfying accomplishment, Strano said, was "knowing that the only reason I made it to the state finals while being sick was the hours I put in (before the season). It's not so much the satisfaction of taking second; it's knowing that all that (work) is why I took second."

KASSI STRANO, Battle Ground High School

Season highlights

  • Placed second at the state meet in the 106-pound weight class, losing to three-time state champion Rachel Archer of Winlock.
  • Overcame pneumonia in the postseason, and a partial tear to the rotator cuff in her right shoulder, to reach state finals.
  • Won 106-pound title for girls at the Clark County Championships.

More about Kassi

  • Played the violin when she was younger and is now translating that knowledge to the mandolin.
  • Favorite movie: “An American in Paris” with Gene Kelley. Kassi often watches classic movies with her grandfather.
  • Kassi’s two brothers and sister followed her into wrestling. They participate in the Southwest Washington Wrestling Club.

Next year and beyond

Kassi plans to attend Southwestern Oregon Community College to compete on its women’s wrestling team. In two years, she might move to Pacific University in Forest Grove to continue wrestling and pursue studies in sports medicine. She has begun training for the 2013 freestyle club season.

“Taking second or third is still hard to do. You have to win just as many matches as everybody else.”

Kassi Strano, On explaining wrestling to others