The Melissa High School Lady Cardinal Wrestling team is set to compete at the regional tournament this Friday and Saturday, after clenching the 5A District Champion title last week; a historical first for the wrestling program and the school.
Being from a 4A school, the Lady Cardinals were faced with the challenge of wrestling against large 5A and 6A teams, but that didn’t faze them.
Newcomers Hastings Frederick and Lilly Rogers, both freshmen, placed at tournaments from the get-go last fall, quickly setting the tone for their first season.
Junior Makayla Watson, a three-time regional qualifier, led the Lady Cards as team captain for the second consecutive year.
“This is the biggest team we’ve had for girls’ wrestling,” Watson said. “It’s been really great. This year, we dominated.”
Coach Rick Gagarin has served the Melissa Schools Athletics program for 12 years, and the last five years as the coach for girls’ wrestling. Gagarin was named Outstanding Coach at this year’s district tournament.
Gagarin and Watson both emphasized that wrestling is as much of a team sport as it is individual. This season, the Lady Cardinals, now a team of 15, filled every weight class, which was integral to their district win.
“You want to win not just for your weight class, but for the whole team,” Watson said.
Gagarin added, “Even though some girls didn’t win at certain weights; because they still placed, they earned points for the team. We had to have everybody – it was a full team effort. If any of our girls weren’t there, we couldn’t have won district.”
Watson showed pride and confidence as she discussed the upcoming regional tournament.
“I think we have a big shot at getting a couple of girls out to state.”
The Lady Cardinal Wrestling team travels Thursday to Bryan, Texas where they will compete at the two-day regional tournament, with hopes of qualifying wrestlers for state.
Pictured above: Rick Gagarin and Makayla Watson. Action photos courtesy of Buzz Photos.
Media Contact: Maddie Coe, Community Relations