Federal Way is ranked No. 1 in the state and Thomas Jefferson is right behind them at No. 2. Not too far behind is Decatur at 13th.
The pride and passion is evident in coach Travis Mango’s voice. It’s crystal clear. He has high expectations and that creates strong results.
It’s not just the fact that the Federal Way High School girls wrestling team sits atop the most recent rankings at No. 1 put out by WashingtonWrestlingReport.com. There’s excitement for the acknowledgment, but Mango’s pride comes from the work his group of 20 female wrestlers puts in each day during the winter season and offseason.
The commitment is strong.
“As far as my program, I know my girls work hard in and out of season,” said Mango, the Eagles’ ninth-year girls wrestling leader. “I have many multi-sport athletes. A lot of them make it a point to wrestle freestyle in the offseason and lift hard in the offseason and put in the extra time in the summer.
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“We have a lot of really good [middle school and club] coaches in the area, coaches who truly care about kids, enjoy the sport and have fun with it. They make sure that love and passion shows through when they work with the kids.”
Mango, who coached the Eagles boys until focusing on the girls team this season, benefits from strong middle school and club programs in the Federal Way area.
“Right now, I’m sitting at right around 20 [girls],” Mango said. “It’s nice to have that recognition [being ranked No. 1] and that people see that we are doing the right thing. When my girls go out to wrestle, they wrestle hard and they wrestle hard every single day. We go out to dominate a match.
“When we go out on the mat, we strive to respect our opponents, as well as the officials and the sport itself. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what someone else says. It’s about what we show on the mat.”
The Federal Way girls wrestling team was sixth at state in 2011, 13th in 2012, ninth in 2013 and third last season. Could this be the season that Mango’s program breaks through for a state title?
“We work hard to get better every day and every tournament,” he said. “So, at the end of the year, we’ll let our wrestling speak for itself.”
Look just below the Eagles and fellow Federal Way School District rival Jefferson sits at No. 2 and then a little farther down comes another district rival in Decatur at No. 13.
Beamer took third at state as a team in girls in 2015, the final season of two-time state champion Arian Carpio’s amazing high school run. Carpio won two state crowns and was second twice, including her senior year, bringing the spotlight to the city of Federal Way for girls wrestling.
Now, it appears the Federal Way, Jefferson and Decatur get the limelight this season.
The girls tournament has been sanctioned as part of Mat Classic since 2007 and the sport has seen great growth since then. Federal Way has a chance to make history with a state title at Mat Classic XXIV on Feb. 17-18 in the Tacoma Dome.
“I think the sport [of girls wrestling] is just growing within Federal Way,” Jefferson coach Jeff Muraki said. “Girls are getting more interested in the sport. There’s a lot more wrestling clubs within Federal Way. Girls have the opportunity to get better at that sport by possibly wrestling all year round.
“I also attribute it to girls with success in the Federal Way District. For our school, once Jasmine Pleasants won [a state title] her freshman year, her sophomore year we picked up three or four extra girls. We’ve been picking up [numbers] ever since.”
The Raiders program has jumped to 12 girls this season from just four when Pleasants was a freshman in 2013-14. Pleasants, now a senior, is ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds after taking second at 130 as a junior.
“Next year, I’m hoping we have 15-16 girls come out,” Muraki said.
Muraki said more girls are starting to wrestle at younger ages and getting better training. The results this season show that earlier growth.
“The tournaments around this time of year begin to show you who’s going be at state,” he said. “The Kelso Invitational tournament [on Jan. 6-7] is a very big tournament this time of year, and the way I looked at it was, it’s like the changing of the guard this year. It’s going to be an interesting state tournament this year.
“What I mean by that is a lot of the past state champions lost to freshmen, either in the [Kelso] quarterfinals or semifinals. So, that’s telling me that girls are starting to take the sport of wrestling more seriously at an earlier age.”
Muraki said most of the girls he coached some eight years ago picked up the sport starting in high school instead of earlier ages.
Federal Way has six wrestlers ranked in the Top 10 of the state rankings, led by Tally Thomas, a senior ranked No. 2 at 155 pounds. Thomas took third in state at 170 pounds last season after finishing fifth at 170 as a sophomore and she is off to a 13-1 start this season.
“I think Tally is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching,” Mango said. “Similar to me, she hates to lose more than she loves to win. Any time she has lost, she takes those losses pretty personal and she does remedy it and make herself better.
“She’s what I would call a brawler.”
Thomas owns an 81-29 career mark and is chasing that elusive state title.
Adding punch to the Eagles’ lineup are junior Amanda Henderson (No. 4 at 110, 14-5), junior Annabella Garcia (No. 6 at 115, 8-3), sophomore Anjilia Sumandig (No. 5 at 120, 14-3), junior Marlin Gonzalez (No. 7 at 170) and junior Maria Stewart (No. 6 at 235, 12-4).
Jefferson’s top threats at state will be freshman Griselda Cuevas (No. 6 at 100), sophomore Raisa Pleasants (No. 1 at 105) and senior Jasmine Pleasants (No. 1 at 135).
Decatur’s state hopes rest with a trio of seniors in Auna Carpio (No. 3 at 115), Glaysia Sparling (No. 7 at 190) and Gabrielle Boyd (No. 4 at 235). Carpio was second at 115 last season.
Marquee matches upcoming
The Matman Classic, hosted by Central Kitsap, will be one of next week’s best wrestling events on Saturday. Action begins at 10 a.m.
Roosevelt hosts defending Metro League champion O’Dea on Thursday in a match that could decide this season’s regular-season Metro crown.
A quality field has been assembled for the Marysville-Pilchuck Premier Tournament on Saturday. The field is led by No. 6 Bethel (3A) and No. 12 Stanwood (3A). O’Dea will also be there.
4A NPSL leaders Auburn Riverside and Decatur square off on the Ravens’ home mat on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Tahoma junior Kione Gill sports a 23-1 record at 195 pounds. His lone loss came at The Clash in Rochester, Minn., on New Year’s Eve to Jacob Warner, a Washington High (Illinois) wrestler ranked No. 1 in the nation at 195. Gill fell to Warner by fall in 3:01.
Edmonds-Woodway outdueled Lake Stevens 161.5 to 158 to win the Everett Classic on Saturday. The Warriors featured four individual champions – Salihou Fatty (138), Anthony Lindamood (160), Abdoulie Jatta (170) and Generous Yeh (220) – in their winning lineup.
Mountlake Terrace (145 points) and Mercer Island (122) finished second and third, respectively, in the Island Invite on Saturday. Sequim won the team title with 182.5.
Bonney Lake (127.5 points) was third and Tahoma 17th (77) as the top local finishers in Friday’s and Saturday’s Gut Check Challenge at the Kitsap Pavilion. Toppenish was first with 173 points and Curtis second at 168.5. Defending state champion Josh Franich of Puyallup won 138-pound crown on Saturday after winning a state title at 132 in 4A last season. Defending state titlist Diego Gallegos of Lindbergh won the 182-pound crown. Gallegos, a senior, won a state title at 182 in 2A last season. Tahoma junior Kione Gill took the 195-pound class.
Sumner won the Panther Classic on Saturday with 262.5 points, well ahead of Decatur’s runner-up total of 188. Host Snohomish was third with 132 points and Glacier Peak fourth at 128. The Spartans had seven individual titlists.
Sunnyside won the Dick Pruett Invitational at Kent-Meridian on Saturday with 201.5 points to Ellensburg’s 174. Auburn was third at 130 points, Kentlake sixth at 78 and Tahoma seventh with 75. Gerardo Suarez of K-M won the 132-pound class. Jacob Vanderwal of Tahoma took the 138-pound division. Auburn’s Cole Washburn finished at the top of 182 and Kennedy Catholic’s Bowen McConville atop 195.
Oak Harbor won Saturday’s Shoreline Invitational with 186 points to Roosevelt’s 121.5. Roosevelt had four individual champions with Eli Teagle winning the 132 class, Drew Weinberger (152), Conrad Austin (170) and Spear Kajumulo (182).
Team and individual rankings