Prep Wrestling

Her near-perfect season ended with a state title, and All-Area honors

Hanford’s Taylor Wilson, left, controls Granger’s Nizhoni Tallman during their 100-pound championship match at the state wrestling tournament Feb. 17 at the Tacoma Dome. Wilson won the title by disqualification.
Hanford’s Taylor Wilson, left, controls Granger’s Nizhoni Tallman during their 100-pound championship match at the state wrestling tournament Feb. 17 at the Tacoma Dome. Wilson won the title by disqualification. Special to the Herald

There are seven days in a week, and you won’t catch Taylor Wilson wasting one second of any of them.

The Hanford freshman steamrolled the competition to the tune of a 49-1 record and a state title, en route to being named the Herald’s All-Area Girls Wrestler of the Year.

“That’s pretty impressive, especially with all the talent that has been coming out of our area,” Wilson said. “I worked really hard for it this year. We have amazing coaches and a lot of great kids on the team. I was happy to represent Hanford and win the school’s first state title in eight years.”

Hanford coach Dom Duncan, who was named Coach of the Year, said Wilson had experience and work ethic before she stepped into the Falcons’ wrestling room.

A year ago at this time, Wilson won the Washington State Wrestling Association Cadet Boys state title at 94 pounds.

“Part of that comes from the fact she has wrestled at some of the big USA tournaments, and the bigger tournaments that we wrestled in during the year,” Duncan said. “Everybody on the podium (at state), she had wrestled and beat somewhere down the line at one of the big tournaments.”

Wrestling at 100 pounds, Wilson said she was a little nervous to start the season, but it didn’t take long for her to be the one others feared.

“My first tournament was scary,” she said. “I was wrestling the top girl in the state (Aaliyah Escamilla of Warden). After I beat her, I felt I was ready for the season.”

With each match she honed her skills. She even wrestled a few duals with the Hanford boys team and went 2-2.

“When you see that kind of competition week in and week out, iron sharpens iron,” Duncan said. “Those are the kids you have to wrestle against to help separate yourself.”

She took on all comers — Melanie Flores of Moses Lake (the only one to beat Wilson this season) and Nizhoni Tallman of Granger, whom she beat several times this season, including in the state finals.

Wilson led the championship match with just 26 seconds remaining when the official called Tallman for biting and disqualified her.

“I wanted to keep wrestling,” Wilson said. “There were 26 seconds left and I was up. They said the health codes wouldn’t let the match continue. I was confused. I had worked so hard and I knew I had the talent to beat her.”

Since the state tournament last month, Wilson has been training seven days a week for Nationals, and is trying to make the World Team, which will travel to Russia later this year.

“I haven’t taken a weekend off since state,” she said. “Most people take a mental break and take time off. Not me.”

Wilson trains twice a week in Yakima with Team Takedown, which is where four-time state champion Camerin Guerin of Davis works out.

She also recently started working with Hermiston sophomore Alice Todryk, who won the Oregon state title at 100 pounds.

Oregon’s girls state tournament, which was in its last year of being an exhibition event, will be a sanctioned state tournament next year, but Todryk and the Bulldogs will be part of the Mid-Columbia Conference.

“We have great practices in Yakima,” Wilson said. “My dad (Jonathan) takes me down there. He will do anything for me. He is awesome. I have never wrestled the Hermiston girl, we have just worked on moves together.”

Coupled with Taylor Robbins’ fifth-place finish at 120 and Grace Nelson’s seventh-place at 190, the Falcons finished fifth at state, just shy of bringing home a team trophy. Robbins and Nelson also are on the All-Area team.

“Our girls team blasted off this year,” Wilson said. “We trained harder than the boys. The girls on the team, we are like sisters. We placed in the top five with three girls. That’s cool.”

Top Coach

Duncan, who serves as the girls and boys coach at Hanford, is encouraged by the number of girls competing and the quality of athletes.

“Several years ago, when there was just the invitational, you could see the numbers move up,” Duncan said of female wrestlers. “All of a sudden, we have a girls state tournament. At first it was a 12-girl bracket. Now, we have a full 16-girl bracket. Colleges are adding women’s wrestling all around the country. It’s here for the long haul. Other states are following suit. Oregon, Idaho and Georgia added it this year. It’s making strides.”

Duncan had six girls in his program this season and three placed at state. With a couple of incoming freshmen next year, the future looks bright for the Falcons.

“We talked all season along about the size of our team, and come the last Saturday of the season that we would be in the hunt,” Duncan said. “I felt that our top six girls were as tough as everyone else’s top six. Next year, if we get our placers to move up and add two or three more in the mix, who knows what happens?”

Girls First Team

MVP: Taylor Wilson, fr., Hanford. Coach of the Year: Dom Duncan, Hanford. 100: Taylor Wilson, fr., Hanford. 105: Maria Reyes, sr., Grandview. 110: Devin Gamaz, sr., Kiona-Benton. 115: Jackie Peguero, jr., Othello. 120: Taylor Robbins, jr., Hanford. 125: Mollee Weddle, so., Grandview. 130: Jasel Perez, sr., Grandview. 135: Dempsi Talkington, sr., River View. 140: Elizabeth Giles, sr., Othello. 145: Saran Sidibe, sr., Kamiakin. 155: Alexia Asselin, fr., Kennewick. 170: Kaitlyn Goodman, so., Othello. 190: Grace Nelson, so., Hanford. 235: Reggan Grade, jr., Richland.

Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574, @TCHIceQueen

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