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News / Sports / Prep Sports

All-Region Girls Wrestling: Faith Tarrant, Prairie

Freshman went from new arrival in town to state champion

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: March 8, 2022, 5:13pm
2 Photos
Prairie freshman Faith Tarrant stands in the wrestling room of Prairie High School. Tarrant recently won the 235-pound state championship.
Prairie freshman Faith Tarrant stands in the wrestling room of Prairie High School. Tarrant recently won the 235-pound state championship. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When Faith Tarrant stepped into the Prairie High School wrestling room for the first time, the freshman hadn’t competed in the sport since the sixth grade.

More daunting, Tarrant didn’t know anybody there.

“When I moved here, my mom encouraged me to get back into the sport,” Tarrant said. “If I played a sport that I had loved before I stopped, maybe I would make some friends.”

Fast forward three months to Feb. 19. As Tarrant’s hand was raised in victory after the 235-pound state championship match at Mat Classic, dozens of Prairie teammates and supporters cheered wildly.

Several hugs followed. It’ was as if teammates were celebrating with a longtime friend.

Tarrant becoming the lone Clark County girl to win a state wrestling championship in 2022 isn’t just a story about athletic success.

It’s about the deeper importance of high school sports and activities —where teenagers can find friendship, guidance and community through a common purpose.

“I love being in this room with this much support,” Tarrant said in a recent interview in Prairie’s wrestling room. “I wouldn’t be here without my teammates pushing me to want to be my best.”

For her accomplishments, Tarrant is The Columbian’s All-Region girls wrestler of the year.

Tarrant has always loved sports. Growing up near Denver, Colorado, she began wrestling as a seven year old. She was also the only girl on a youth tackle football team.

But her pursuit of sports paused in the sixth grade.

“I had a lot of family stuff going on,” Tarrant said. “I took a break because sports weren’t my top priority.”

Tarrant and her mother got a fresh start when they moved to Clark County in October. Being a high school freshman can be daunting for anyone, let alone someone who is new to the area.

Not long after joining the wrestling team, Tarrant found her flock.

Some of that is due to the mutual respect and shared purpose among Prairie’s wrestlers. But head coach Rob Smith and girls coach Caily Mendez have also set up a system where teammates support each other beyond the mat.

“After practice, girls get together in a little circle and talk about what’s going on,” Tarrant said. “We call it ‘Happys and Crappys.’ We talk about the good parts of our day and the bad parts. It could be anything. That usually made my day at wrestling.”

With an upbeat energy and easy smile, it’s easy to see why Tarrant became beloved by her teammates so quickly.

Tarrant made a memory after the weigh-ins at Mat Classic. She gathered all the 235-pound wrestlers together for a group photo, which she still keeps on her phone.

“Even though we’re in a sport where we’re super physical with each other, the girls are so nice,” Tarrant said.

But that kindness goes away when Tarrant steps on the mat.

“When I go out there, it’s time for me to be selfish,” she said. “I really, really want this. I have to win.”

Tarrant placed second in her first tournament at Kelso. She said much of the early part of her season was focused on conditioning and getting comfortable on the mat once again.

Once she found that comfort, Tarrant was unbeatable. She won her weight class at the Clark County Championships, the district tournament and the regional tournament.

“When I wrestled at state, I wasn’t even nervous,” Tarrant said. “I knew what I wanted to do.”

At Mat Classic, she pinned all four of her opponents. The brought the girls tournament to a thrilling conclusion when she pinned Toppenish’s Makayla Torres in overtime of the night’s final match.

That, and the celebration that followed, were things Tarrant never imagined when she first set foot in Prairie as a solitary new student.

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“I keep replaying that moment of getting my hand raised and seeing everyone in the stands cheering,” Tarrant said. “I want to go back.”

The Rest of the All-Region Team

Uruwa Abe, Ridgefield

The junior was regional champion and Clark County champion  at 110 pounds.

Niah Cassidy, Union

The sophomore placed fourth in state at 120 pounds. Regional champion.

Lacey Klopman, Washougal

The senior placed fourth in state at 170 pounds. Regional and Clark County champion.

Janessa O’Connell, Union

The freshman placed eighth in state at 125 pounds. Clark County champion. Regional runner-up.

Yana Paskar, Prairie

The senior placed eighth in state at 145 pounds. Led Prairie to Clark County title with win.

Kennedy Wilcox, Prairie

The junior placed seventh in state at 125 pounds. Clark County and regional champion.