At Iowa girls state wrestling meet, Tatum Wolford blazes the trail for future Wapello girls wrestlers

·3 min read

Tatum Wolford made history last weekend, becoming the first Wapello High School student-athlete to qualify for the girls state wrestling meet.

Wolford far exceeded her own expectations Friday and Saturday at Xtream Arena in Coralville, advancing to the 145-pound state championship match before dropping a 6-3 decision to Alana Duggan of Dubuque Wahlert.

Wolford, a sophomore at Wapello, got a heroine's welcome home Saturday night, met outside of town by a fire truck and a caravan of cars.

Wolford has blazed the trail for Wapello for girls to compete in wrestling. She is hoping others will follow her path,

"It boosted my confidence so much," Wolford said of her state tournament, where she went 4-1 with three pins and a technical fall. "I can't believe I was able to go there and do so well for not having practiced or wrestled that much during the season. It was amazing. The atmosphere was huge. It was really amazing to see that many people down there supporting girls wrestling. It was really amazing."

Wolford took a 9-1 record and a No. 6 ranking into the state tournament. She wrestled far above that.

On Friday, Wolford received a bye in the first round, then pinned Eavenly Nielsen of Iowa City West in 1 minute, 53 seconds.

In her second match, Walford needed just 1:27 to pin Morgan Malay of Charles City to advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday morning.

More: Tatum Wolford will be the first Wapello girl to compete in the Iowa high school wrestling meet

After a restless night Thursday, Wolford slept soundly Friday night, knowing she had accomplished the first of her goals at state.

"It felt amazing that I got through to the second day," Wolford said. "One of my goals was to make it to the second day. I was really proud of myself that day. I slept a lot better than I did the night before."

In the quarterfinals, Wolford rolled to a 19-3 technical fall over Drew Chensvold of North Fayette Valley.

In the semifinals, Wolford pinned Niah Smith of Davenport West in 5:50 to punch her ticket to the state championship bout.

"I worked really hard to win that match," Wolford said. "I had wrestled her before, so I knew what she was going to do. I used a lot of my energy for that match. I was really proud of myself making it to the finals."

Every step of the way, Wolford was establishing new standards for girls wrestling in Wapello, blazing the trail for others to follow.

"She was really strong," Wolford said of Duggan. "I made a couple bad shots from distance. I will learn from my mistakes and get better."

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As happy as Wolford was with her tournament performance, perhaps the biggest moment came earlier in the day on Saturday. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced it would sanction girls wrestling, beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

"This is huge for girls wrestling in Iowa," Wolford said. "Hopefully now more girls will realize that girls can wrestle, too, not just boys. And we don't have to wrestle boys anymore. Hopefully now more girls will come out for wrestling."

Wolford, who plans to play softball in college, was in for a big surprise when she arrived back in Wapello Saturday night.

"About five miles from town I saw a bunch of cars lined up and a fire truck," Wolford said. "I was super appreciative of all the support I received from so many people in the community. I can't thank them enough. It was really awesome."

This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Tatum Wolford stars in Iowa girls wrestling state tournament