WHS wrestlers to compete at Fargo national competition


Photo Submitted by Nina Zimmermann

Junior Nina Zimmermann claims victory at the Missouri Juniors Freestyle Championships Sunday, April 24 in Sedalia, Mo. “I am anticipating some really good competition from the girls in other states,” Zimmermann said. “I’m preparing by sticking with my daily routine, practicing positive self talk, staying hydrated and focusing on technique.” Zimmermann placed runner-up for 112 Juniors at the state competition.

Several wrestlers from Washington qualified for the Fargo Junior Nationals competition after placing in the Freestyle/Greco State Championships in Sedalia on April 23-24.

“It’s a huge national tournament, and I never really thought that in my first year of wrestling, I’d be going to Fargo, and wrestling for the Missouri National team is just really big for me,” freshman Maggie Ortmann said. 

Fargo Junior Nationals is a national wrestling tournament taking place July 15-22 at the UniDome in Fargo, North Dakota. The tournament is comprised of teams of the top wrestlers in each state. While wrestlers do folkstyle wrestling during the school year, offseason wrestling is freestyle.

“Freestyle…they have different rules set up,” sophomore Kendra Bliss said. “There’s more throwing, there’s more clasping…it’s a lot quicker pace.”

Bliss encouraged the other qualifying wrestlers to join Purler Wrestling Academy and Team Valkyrie STL after qualifying for the 2021 Fargo Junior Nationals. 

“Kendra is the one that really got me into [wrestling],” Ortmann said. “She helped me get out there more and signed me up for stuff and really just kind of led me to where I am right now.”

These athletes endure daily practices and weight lifting every summer and winter season for WHS wrestling, but are taking the next step in continuing their wrestling career by joining freestyle competitions.

“I wanted to get better and I wanted to [wrestle] in college,” sophomore Ava Griffey said. “I’ve definitely gotten faster…[I’ve learned] different techniques and stuff from different coaches.”

Qualifying wrestler junior Nina Zimmermann has been wrestling freestyle for two months, adjusting quickly to the different rules and techniques. 

“I’ve learned that when you get knocked down or defeated, you can either let that define you or get back to it and be the best person and wrestler you can be,” Zimmermann said. 

The student wrestlers are preparing for nationals by attending regular practices and continuing to attend tournaments at the national level.

“[We’re going to] Texas next week, which is national [level] as well, so we’re going to get a good look at what [we’re] going to see at nationals,” Bliss said. “We’ve been preparing for that and practicing three or four times a week and just preparing for who we think we’ll see and the skills we need to know and get better at.”

With the strong bond between the WHS wrestling team and the opportunity to experience the national competition with each other for the first time, the student-athletes are filled with excitement and anticipation.

“It feels amazing,” Zimmermann said. “There was no doubt in my head we wouldn’t qualify for nationals in Fargo, knowing how much hard work we’ve put into getting to that point.” With nationals marking the end of the freestyle wrestling season, competing athletes will have one last chance to earn the reward they have been training for months for.

“It’s an opportunity that we are all grateful for, and we’re excited to see how we all do and prepare for that because it’s a really big tournament,” Bliss said. “It’s a gauge to see how well you’re doing, so we’re going to see how much our hard work pays off.”