Back to the Mat

Girls wrestling is set for a new and successful season


Katelynn Gibson

Spectators watch as junior Harmony Rust takes down her opponent in a wrestling match.

Katelynn Gibson, Managing Editor

The Nixa girls wrestling team has been hitting the mat and working consistently to continue winning duals and championships. They plan on raising the bar in comparison to last season — where the team was top 15 in the state.
The team has worked hard by practicing and learning from one another.
Wrestling is a one-on-one competition — boys against boys and girls against girls. The wrestlers stay in their own weight range and maintain that weight throughout the season.
Junior Ashlyn Eli has been wrestling for three years and got involved at a young age. Eli plans on becoming a two-time state champion. Eli won state champion the past season and is looking to keep that title.
¨My favorite thing is honestly getting better and traveling with my team,¨ Eli said. “Being a two-time state champ and being at 130 for senior year is my biggest goals for now and upcoming.”
The girls wrestling team has had a main focus this season on being COVID safe, but also on winning most of the duals.
Nixa wrestling coach Josh Downing has been coaching for 11 years. While he had been competing for his whole life, he always knew he wanted to coach.
Downing said he could not be more proud of how far Nixa’s wrestling program has come, and believes the girls are improving every year.
“Our focus is for our athletes to wrestle at the best of their ability,” Downing said. “I can tell you that for most of our wrestlers [that have made it further into the postseason], the focus is winning a state championship.”
The girls expect to reach new goals that haven’t been achieved in the past. Junior Harmony Rust has been wrestling for three years, and has been working on being able to place at state and win most of her matches.
¨Going to state and districts, spending time with the team and getting better is always my main motive for the season,¨ Rust said.
With COVID-19 affecting many sports, wrestling has been a hard component. While on the mat, wrestlers are not able to wear a mask. During practice, however, they have been committed to wrestling with the same partners. When off the mat, they wear their masks and socially distance themselves as best as the best they can.
Rust said that when it comes to newcomers, the best advice is to not give up.
Wrestling takes a while to get the hang of, but the winning and newfound skill make the trials worth it. Rust has qualified for sectional finals and is working hard to make it to state.
Sophomore Nicole Pilotto has been wrestling for two years and said she could not be happier. She is a part of the band program so stepping out into wrestling was something new for her.
“Wrestling was something different for me, and there was nothing wrong with trying something new,” Pilotto said.
The Nixa girls wrestling team started in 2018 and has grown since, with more girls joining every year.