The Melissa High School Lady Cardinal Wrestling team began their historic season with nine freshmen, three sophomores, and three juniors; and only two wrestlers with any previous experience.
“Recruiting wrestlers to go against a larger classification and older wrestlers in 5A and 6A is very difficult,” said Coach Rick Gagarin. “You have to convince the recruits that, given enough practice, they can compete and have success throughout the season.”
The first competition took place at 6A Plano East. Almost every wrestler had at least one victory, and two wrestlers placed second with a silver medal.
“At that point I felt we had a chance to have a good team,” Gagarin said.
After the Plano East tournament, the wrestlers would face a 5A team head-to-head in a duel at Frisco Wakeland. The Lady Cards easily defeated Wakeland at 42-6.
After three more 6A tournaments, first-year wrestlers began producing winning records.
The Lady Cards started off the new year with numerous district 9-5A head-to-head duels. January had Melissa going against Carrollton Creekview, RL Turner, Newman Smith, Lancaster, and Lucas Lovejoy. Duel outcomes included: Melissa, 42, Lovejoy, 16; Melissa, 48, RL Turner, 12; Melissa, 30, Lancaster, 18; and Melissa, 24, Creekview, 36.
Throughout the January tournaments, each wrestler acquired more experience and victories along the way, readying them for the district tournament, where the Lady Cards ultimately became the first Melissa team in any sport to record a 5A district championship.
This outstanding performance allowed every Lady Cardinal wrestler to advance to the regional tournament at Bryan College Station, where several wrestlers won matches, three placed winning medals, and two advanced to state.
The Lady Cards fought hard at the state tournament, but weren’t able to win, bringing their season to a close.
“This was the most amazing wrestling season I have ever been a part of,” added Gagarin. “These girls trained hard all season and it showed as they improved tremendously as the season went on. One of the good things about having such a young team is that every wrestler will hopefully be back to defend their district title.”
Contributor: Rick Gagarin. Photo by Buzz Photos.
Media Contact: Maddie Coe, Community Relations