With 2022 now here, it’s time for the main stretch to hit for the wrestling season. We’ll learn so much more in the next month to month and a half about who stands out in the wrestling landscape. For now, here is a breakdown of which wrestlers that you need to know about as we head into January competition:
Sarahi Chavez (McKay): This freshman has emerged as a state contender for the Royal Scots, sitting with an 8-0 record and two tournament championships entering 2022. Chavez has been absolutely dominant, pinning each of her opponents in less than two minutes and showing Oregon the potential that she has over her high school career. Keep an eye on Chavez, she might become a nationally ranked wrestler down the road.
Kaylee Annis (Thurston): The defending state champion in the 100 class, Annis arrived in her first meet at the NW Duals and swept the competition, showing the flashes of dominance that we saw in the spring season. Reclassified into the 110 class for this season, Annis will certainly be the favorite in the class this season and rightfully so. She also ranks #23 in the nation in the 106 class!
Sienna Caruso (Crater): Picking up on where she left off, the Ashland transfer is sitting at 4-0 this year with a tournament title under her belt. She finished state runner-up in the 100 class to Kaylee Annis this spring, and with her being put into the 110 class this winter, we’re likely in for a rematch between the two at the state championships.
Riley Allison (La Pine): You know a wrestler is special when they have an 8-2 record with their only losses coming to their own state champion teammate Kira Kerr. She has improved and found consistency over the course of December, finding herself in the middle of a race for the state title this season. Facing a teammate like Kerr will only make her better, and I believe they’ll likely meet in more championship matches.
Bella Amaro (Oregon City): Another defending state champion, the Oregon City product kicked off the season with a 4-0 showing in the Battle at the Capital in Salem. With upcoming tournaments, Amaro will have more opportunities to showcase her abilities over the course of the season.
Kami Hart (Sweet Home): Hart has torched the competition this season, winning five of her matches in less than 30 seconds and stands undefeated on the year. Hart has a path to the state title with the graduation of Fiona McConnell and Alexys Zepeda but has competition from Forest Grove and Ella Taplin. A state contender, Hart will almost certainly be in the state title match.
Reine Bissember (La Pine): This senior might find herself a state title this winter, emerging as an upcoming threat on the statewide level. She currently sits at 7-0 this season with a tournament title at the Adrian Irwin Invite and an insane 12 second pin on the resume. While the competition has been mostly Central Oregon, there’s no reason to believe that Bissember can’t compete well at regionals and state this season.
Kassidy Blanton (Forest Grove): Another freshman on the rise, Blanton boasts an 11-1 record in her first year. Blanton took the tournament title in Warrenton and third place in the Battle at the Capital. Couple that with a clean sweep at the Northwest Duals, and Blanton is definitely a name to know as we keep going this season.
Destiny Cowans (Springfield): An under the radar prospect, Cowans sits officially at 4-0 with some pretty eye-popping stats this season. She has won every match with a pin in less than a minute, including a 14 second championship win at the Molalla Holiday Mayhem. She’ll be a rising star on the radar in January, with curiosity on how she performs in the big time after a fourth-place finish in the spring. However, she has certainly earned a spot on this list.
Klaira Flatt (Toledo): The Boomer senior has always been on the radar and has finally arrived on the scene this season. Flatt went coast to coast at the Liberty Invitational, dominating the 125 class and won a tough battle with Namuondo O`Donnell to capture the title in the category. Flatt is a fighter and will find herself at state this season, so keep an eye out for her as competition continues.
Anna McDougal (Central Linn): Stopped by Adelle Kent in the spring, McDougal looked to have a clear path to the state title this season, but then she met America’s #1 wrestler from West Linn Destiny Rodriguez. With Rodriguez being in the same class, McDougal will have to dig deep to find a way to beat Rodriguez this year. Clocking in at #23 in America for the 152 class, McDougal is no doubt talented and will put up a fight at state. I love the fight that McDougal brings to each meet!
Julietta Leal (La Pine): Another La Pine product, she captured the Culver Invitational and finished runner-up at Adrian Irwin to teammate Reine Bissember in a 5-4 decision. Leal has pinned every opponent to this point except Bissember, and no one has seemed to be able to slow her down so far. Seeing her on a wider stage will be a great test at how much potential she has, but it has been a great start for Leal this winter.
Kira Kerr (La Pine): Defending state runner-up and leader of the La Pine team, Kerr has picked up where she left off this last season. She has been completely dominant, pinning every opponent to this point and improving against her competition each week. She’s the favorite in her class this season, so the question is whether she walks home with a state title in 2022!
Ayana Medina (Hillsboro): The defending state champion is at it again, rolling through at Battle for the Capital in dominant fashion to open her senior campaign. At the NW Duals, more of the same dominance as she aided her team to finishing strong in the meet. She’s the favorite in her class once again.
Gracianna Strickland (Hillsboro): From Spartan to Spartan, Strickland might become Hillsboro’s future Ayana Medina. The sophomore kicked off the year as a runner-up at McKay, then two weeks later took the title at the Liberty Invitational and finished up 2021 with a pair of wins at the NW Duals in Albany. She has a full head of steam entering the new year, so watch for her as a dark horse contender at state.
Alice Rickett (Hillsboro): One last Spartan for the list, Rickett has put on a strong showing to the season and looks to be a big factor at state. She sits undefeated and has won every match with a pin, including twice in 15 seconds and once in 26 seconds. She makes quick work of the opponent, which is nice for putting up big points on the board. State runner-up in the spring to a senior, state favorite in 2022?
Mariko Sonis (North Salem): Another rising sophomore, Sonis has put on an impressive showing this season with two tournament titles in Salem and North Bend, then competed with Sweet Home star Paige Chafin in Albany at the NW Duals. Keep an eye on her in 2022, she could be a disruptor at state this winter.
Paige Chafin (Sweet Home): In the spring, Chafin took third at state and still sits in the shadow of Haley Vann. However, she is still dominant and the face of the Huskies program, putting up dominating performances to kick off the season. Chafin is a state contender and will battle with Vann at state.
Haley Vann (Cleveland): Defending state champion and roaring for another title, Vann sits undefeated this year and is winning with blistering performances. Ranked #12 in the nation, Vann is primed for another state title and only has one realistic threat in Paige Chafin to deal with this season.
Gracee Grenfell (Liberty): Two tournament titles and three points short of a third, Grenfell has established herself as an up-and-coming wrestler on the statewide scene. Aside from her decision loss to Gracianna Strickland, Grenfell has won every other match with a pin this season. She’s a rising star and could be a future state champion, currently only a sophomore with lots of talent being turned over in the next two years.
Makaila Takahashi (Forest Grove): Another defending state champion and a continued pattern of dominance, Takahashi needs no introduction on the wrestling scene. She’s undefeated and is the heavy favorite again at state.
Ella Taplin (Forest Grove): Taking third at state in the spring, Taplin has had a monster start with a 13-0 record and winning every match in less than 90 seconds. Her biggest competition last season is gone, and only Kami Hart looks to take her on for the state title. Taplin will be a great athlete to watch down the stretch of the season, and hopefully we’ll have an epic battle at the state championships.
Faith Wooley (Liberty): Wooley has put herself on the map with dominant performance this season, then culminating with a title at the Liberty Invitational. Aside from a major decision to start the year, she’s on a streak of pins ever since and has a full head of steam entering 2022. Wooley might go under the radar, but don’t snooze on this rising athlete.
Ariana Martinez (West Albany): The Bulldog power is strong with Martinez, a state contender that is hungry to find an elusive state title. She faces a class of loaded contenders, which is what ultimately stonewalled her from the state title in the spring. She’s had a strong season so far and will certainly be back in contention, but regionals will be a great idea on how far she has come from last year.
Analise Smith (Bend): She hasn’t competed much, but any defending state runner-up belongs on this list. Smith has dominated in her few matches this year, an indicator that she’ll be back in the mix again for a state title. With more opportunities in January, Smith will be able to be better assessed at that time.
Estella Gutches (North Medford): Her accolades just continue to stack up this campaign, three tournament titles and the defending state champion. Gutches is in the driver’s seat this winter to go for back-to-back, and so far nothing has indicated to the contrary.
Sophia Redwine (Newberg): She hasn’t wrestled yet, but she’s the defending state champion in her class…
Tyler Richardson (Vale): Just like Redwine, she hasn’t wrestled yet but is a defending state runner-up…
Honorable Mentions: Aaliyah Caldwell (West Salem), Amanda Bradley (Thurston), Georgia Buehler (Corvallis), Calliope Callaway-Hoilman (Roosevelt), Jasmine Lopez (Woodburn), Megan Peterson (Hidden Valley), Courtney Hall (Scappoose), Anna Rintoul (Scappoose), Kristal Zamora (Thurston), Mindy Shine (Corvallis), Zinnia Sirokman (Cleveland), Kailea Takahashi (Forest Grove), Kennedy Blanton (Forest Grove), Emma Johnson (Centennial), Angelina Paniagua (McKay), Natalie De Leon (Hillsboro), Arianne Korish (Mountain View), Richi Campbell (West Albany), Polly Olliff (Dallas), Kaili Kirkhart (Oakridge), Maisie Bandal-Ramirez (The Dalles/Dufur), Dana Glasser (Estacada), Jasmine Hopkins (Forest Grove),