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KHS Girls Take Gold in 2024 State Wrestling Championships

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Bulldogs earn state crown for the second year in a row

Kearney, Mo, February 23, 2024: In a thrilling display of skill and determination, the Kearney High School Girls Wrestling team secured their second consecutive State Championship title at the Girls Wrestling State Tournament in Columbia. The Bulldogs clinched the victory by a razor-thin 1-point margin over second-place Brookfield in an action-packed two-day event.

Despite facing a numerical disadvantage with only four wrestlers making the journey to Columbia, the Bulldogs strategized to secure bonus point victories and advance deep into the championship rounds. Their efforts paid off as every Bulldog wrestler delivered crucial victories by pin, showcasing exceptional skill and composure on the mat.

Junior Ella Herndon, in her second year of wrestling, demonstrated her grit and determination with a pivotal pin in the first-round wrestle-back. Trailing late in the 3rd period, Herndon executed a spectacular leg attack straight to her opponent’s back, securing the fall for the team. Her performance contributed significantly to the team’s success, with Herndon finishing her first state tournament with a 1-2 record.

Freshman Carli Vargas displayed remarkable poise on the big stage, securing bonus point victories in all her postseason matches en route to a state finals appearance. Vargas delivered a crucial pin in her semi-final match, adding to the Bulldogs’ remarkable round. Despite falling short in a hard-fought championship bout, Vargas finished as the state runner-up in her freshman year.

Sophomore Riley Walker, making her second trip to Columbia, dominated the competition with a series of pins leading up to the state finals. Walker’s impressive performance earned her a second-straight state runner-up result at 110 lbs, solidifying her status as a rising star in the sport.

Junior Bailey Martin emerged as a powerhouse for the Bulldogs, pinning her way through the entire postseason and delivering a flawless performance at the state tournament. With a perfect 30 team points, Martin’s championship pin dealt the final blow to Brookfield’s hopes, securing Kearney’s position at the top of the team race. Martin’s victory also means she is a state placer for the third time and has the distinction of being the second individual state champion in this program’s history, joining Lexie Cole in the annals of Kearney High School wrestling glory.

“It’s a great day to be a Bulldog,” exclaimed Head Coach Nick Ward, reflecting on the team’s remarkable achievement. “This team’s triumph underscores their dedication, talent, and unwavering spirit, setting a shining example for future generations of Bulldogs.”

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