West Liberty Girls Wrestling

Girls wrestling program explodes

New coach working with 15 young ladies


A new head West Liberty High School girls wrestling coach brings a whole new perspective to a program that continues to grow year after year.

Samantha Sebolt comes from a wrestling family – saying her younger brother, T.J., operates the number one wrestling club in the nation, the Sebolt Wrestling Academy in Jefferson, Iowa.

“I grew up in a wrestling family,” the new coach said. “It’s what we did then, like it or not.”

Sebolt has grown her team from five participants a year ago to 15 this year and says her star from a year ago, Mylei Henderson, has decided to concentrate on the sport of volleyball in the off season following the success of the girls volleyball team this year. She was the Comet’s top finisher at state last year.

The coach says she hopes to build her team around returning letter winners Grace Evans, a senior, and sophomore Lacey Esmoil, but has some promising other talent developing.

The coach is proud of Henderson making that decision, but is more proud of the girls who came out this year to work hard – many trying the sport for the first time and the program on the verge of getting sanctioned officially in the state – something many feel will happen in 2022 or 2023 by the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union. It’s something West Liberty’s school board and administration leadership has already signed up for – getting approved last month. It simply adds to the flavor of West Liberty’s high class wrestling program that already exists for the boys – the girls just getting going the past three years.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in the nation,” said Sebolt, a paraprofessional in the West Liberty High School. “The more girls go out for it, the better,” she said, noting the sport is great for "building confidence and everything a woman may need in this day and age.”

She said goals don’t have anything to do with getting on the mats and winning matches. “We want to make sure one way or another, they have fun – learn to enjoy it.”

“I want them to grow as a woman, grow in confidence and comeback next year,” the coach said. “I hope they continue to work as they have – they’re not afraid to get in there and get sweaty. They’re amazing.”

Sebolt said numbers were down in the program last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but says the girls are “hitting it hard” this year and will take to the mats beginning in the first week of December through the end of January, hoping to “grow and learn and, hopefully, being successful.”

The coach said the team’s first meet will be Tuesday, Dec. 7 at Waverly-Shellrock beginning at 6 p.m. The girls don’t wrestle as a team like the boys, some battling in the same weight classes if there are opponents. Sebolt says there may be a few holes in filling weight classes, but she said building experience is what the program is about and said the girls will gain a lot of experience in round robin tournaments where they will compete more as individuals than a team.

Other members of the team include senior Cora Reed, juniors Vayda Bryant, Crystal Ledzma, Angela Lozano and Sheyla Madrigal. Sophomores on the squad include Amerie Alvarado, Dionni Garcia-Vasquez, Alissa Sanchez and Nellie Stagg, while the freshman class is represented by Addison Beaver, Silvia Garcia-Vasquez and Ava Morrison.

“It all depends on what the other teams have to offer,” she said, noting the Comets have a lot of girls who want to get on the mats.

This year’s schedule consists of a number of triangular matches starting with a Tuesday, Nov. 30 match with North Mahaska and hosting New London beginning at 5 p.m. Two days later, the Comets host their first meet of the season, a 5:30 p.m. quadrangular clash with Bellevue, Cascade and Iowa City Regina.

The team goes to the first of eight tournaments this year when they travel to Waverly on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

The Comets will host their own tournament on Monday, Jan. 10, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and tangle in two other quadrangulars through a season that ends with the Junior varsity River Valley Conference tournament at Northeast on Monday, Jan. 24.

The team will be working toward returning wrestlers to the state finals on Jan. 21-22 at the Xtreme Arena in Coralville.


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