The multitalented senior has lost in the semifinals the last two years. She’s also a standout on the softball diamond, where she will play for Stanford next year.
What started as a last resort quickly turned into a second love for Tally Thomas.
Softball remains her primary passion — and the sport she’ll pursue at Stanford on scholarship. But wrestling will always have a special place in her heart.
After all — what’s not to adore?
5 teams to watch
Federal Way: Coming off a best-ever third-place finish, the Eagles return five state place-winners: senior Tally Thomas (third at 170), juniors Anabella Garcia (fifth at 100), Mariah Stewart (fourth at 235) and Amanda Henderson (eighth at 100) and sophomore Anjila Sumandig (seventh at 115) to go along with some upcoming talent. Ranked No. 3 in preseason poll.
Decatur: Senior Auna Carpio, a two-time state medalist (second at 115 in 2016, fourth at 115 in 2015) leads a crew ranked sixth with an eye on a top-four trophy. Gabby Boyd (sixth at 235 in 2016) and Glaysia Sparling (eighth at 190 in 2015) also return along with three other regional veterans.
Jefferson: The Raiders are young with a scrappy group of freshmen among the 12 wrestlers on the team, so the future is bright. But senior Jasmine Pleasants leads the way after winning a title at 112 in 2014 and taking second at 130 last season. Sister Raisa Pleasants, third at 100 as a freshman last season, also returns.
Everett: With 28 wrestlers out, the Seagulls have the numbers to make some noise this season and coach Brien Elliott said the goal is to get at least 10 of them to state. He lists Kara Underhill (115), Vanessa Ochoa (120), Summer Leonard (125), Crystal Larson (155) and Molly West (190) as top contenders.
Arlington: Four years ago, the Eagles had just three girls in the program, but the numbers keep doubling. Coach Jim Smoots has 20 on the squad this season, led by seniors Rachel Shersen (120 — state participant last year), J’lanae Jullian (115) and Jordan Mani (145).
“I love anything where I can fight with rules,” said Thomas, who has reached the state semifinals the past two seasons at Federal Way High School. “To me, that’s a lot of fun.”
And she’s had a blast since taking up wrestling as a freshman — a venture that began when her parents insisted she turn out for a winter sport to compliment golf in the fall and softball in the spring (the latter year-round, practically). After ruling out basketball (no longer an interest) and gymnastics (her older sister’s choice), wrestling was it.
“My parents are those who think the more involved you are, the less in trouble you are,” Thomas said, a 3.9 student who gave up golf the past two years to focus more on academics.
Both parents were former standout athletes themselves. Dad Bryant Thomas was a wide receiver at Washington State, playing on the 1998 Rose Bowl team, and is now the football coach at Auburn Riverside. Mom Shannon (formerly Short) earned 12 letters at Fife High School, setting multiple records in basketball.
“My daughters get their athleticism from their mom, without a doubt,” Bryant said.
Oldest Tia, a 2015 Federal Way graduate, was the school’s first 12-time letter winner and went on to win a national title in acrobatics and tumbling at the University of Oregon. Youngest Torree, a seventh grader, plays tennis and basketball.
Tally, an outfielder, enjoyed an outstanding softball season for the Eagles last spring, batting .660 with 13 extra-base hits (1.191 slugging percentage) and a league-best 37 RBI.
She’s left her mark in wrestling as well and is ranked No. 2 at 170 pounds, although she expects to compete at 155 this season. Thomas, who qualified for state as a freshman but couldn’t compete because of an injury, came into the season with 86 career wins and 51 pins.
“She’s not the prettiest wrestler out there, when she’s wrestling,” Federal Way coach Travis Mango said. “She’s kind of a grinder, kind of a brawler, but when it’s go time, I would take her over anyone else in the state right now. … The bigger the moment, the tougher she gets. She is the kind of kid who really likes that limelight. She likes to come through. She loves the pressure situation.”
5 wrestlers to watch
Ally de la Cruz, Jr., Kamiak (145)
The Knights have never had a state wrestling champion, and de la Cruz is driven to become the first. She comes in ranked No. 1 after reaching the 145-pound final as a sophomore and taking third at 140 the year before.
Jasmine Pleasants, Sr., Jefferson (130)
Pleasants is determined to return to the top of the podium, where she was as a freshman (at 112). She was ranked No. 1 as a sophomore, but missed state with an elbow injury and wound up second at 130 last year. More focused than ever, according to her coach.
Auna Carpio, Sr., Decatur (115 or 120)
This is Carpio’s final shot to complete her journey to No. 1 after placing fourth as a sophomore and second last season at 115. She was one of two freshmen when the Gators started their program and has a strong wrestling background (sister Arian was a two-time champion at Beamer).
Addie Mejia, Sr., Issaquah (115)
Mejia is shooting for her fourth trip to state and first championship. She placed eighth at 118 as a freshman at Skyline and bounced back to take third at 115 for Issaquah last season after a disappointing 1-2 showing the year before.
Sabrina Perez, Jr., Kentwood (155)
After reaching the championship match at 155 as a sophomore, taking second place, Perez comes into the season ranked No. 1 at the same weight. An elbow injury has her sidelined, and her future status is unclear at the moment. Will contend if she’s able to wrestle.
Teammate Mariah Stewart calls her very competitive, athletic and sweet — “but when it’s time for her to be serious, she’s serious.”
Before her first wrestling season, Tally sought an introduction from quality sources and family friends, coach Bryan Bartelson and his daughters Jordyn (a four-time champion at Puyallup) and Brooklyn (a Puyallup senior going for her fourth state medal).
“She was eager and a quick learner,” coach Bartelson said. “She competes at the highest level and expects to win.”
After losing to eventual champion Kacie Moorehouse from Issaquah in the 170-pound semifinals last season, Thomas bounced back to place third and help Federal Way take third as a team.
She comes into her senior season with a simple mindset: “Just work hard, take every match for what it’s worth. Win the ones that I can and the ones I don’t, learn from. And hopefully at the end of the day I see myself somewhere on the podium at state.”
Having a ball with each brawl along the way.