Tornado Girls Wrestling Carries Out Strong Season as Team Gears Up for State Tournament


The Yelm Tornados girls wrestling team has found success throughout the duration of the 2022-2023 season, which has included plenty of top three team finishes.

As the postseason begins to creep in, the Tornados are gearing up to duplicate their success following a fourth place Mat Classic finish in 2022.

The team placed second during its most recent tournament in Kelso on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7, which featured 96 teams and 670 wrestlers from three states.

Head Coach Amy Earley referred to the Kelso tournament as a “grinder,” but ultimately the team prevailed in a field with plenty of competition.

Samantha Blank, Madisyn Erickson and Camryn Erickson were all finalists at Kelso, while Amailee Niz placed fifth. Earley said there were several non-placers that contributed to the team’s score, which included Emma Norman, Emily Burton Crow, Vanessa Alberts, Kaitlyn Dover, Destiny Saldana, Emma Norman, Alayna Preston and Emma Bacon.

The team placed first at the Rogers Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30, which saw Blank, Madisyn Erickson and Camryn Erickson all crowned as champions. Norman placed third, while Preston placed fourth. Dover placed fifth and Alma Bowers placed sixth.

Earley credits the girls’ success to the depth the team has.

“We’re constantly having several girls in the finals each week and it’s typically been a different set of girls each week. We have depth and that’s been great,” Earley said. “We have a big team, so when you tend to come in with those numbers, you tend to score a lot of points.”

Earley said it’s typically Blank, Madisyn and Camryn Erickson, and Amailee Niz in the finals, while Norman, Dover and Preston have found their way as varsity wrestlers throughout the season.

With around three weeks remaining before postseason competition, the Tornados have several duels on their schedule. This weekend, the team will head to Black Hills for a small tournament, according to Earley. The team will also compete in tournaments at Lakes High School and Kamiak High School.

The ladies also have several duels which will take place at home.

“It would be nice to see some of our local alumni come out and show some support,” Earley said. “The boys tend to bring that out and I’d like to ask that some of the girls that are still hanging around that were on the team come out to watch.”

As the postseason winds to an end, Earley has strong hopes for her team on their journey to the Mat Classic. She believes the team could potentially send 12 girls to the tournament, but some of them are dealing with injuries so she said she could also see six or seven head to the state tournament.

With roughly three weeks left, Earley said the team has been calm and collected, and responds well to high pressure moments.

“Every team has their own pressure, but this team is pretty laid back and doesn’t put a lot of pressure on themselves,” she said. “The biggest thing is keeping them healthy as we head into the postseason.”

Earley had high praise for Blank, a sophomore in her second year of wrestling. Blank saw a third place finish at the Mat Classic in 2022 and has a goal to repeat that success this year.

“I always set goals. If I know I’m going to have tough competition I tell myself ‘I’m going to last all three rounds and don’t get pinned,’” Blank said. “I’m super excited for the postseason, honestly. I’m trying to go to state and hopefully take top three this year. I took third last year and I’m aiming to place at least one spot higher.”

Earley said Blank has faced great competition and stood her ground throughout the season. Blank was undefeated leading up to the Kelso tournament, where she collected her first loss of the season to a state finalist from 2022. The week prior, the sophomore defeated the 20th ranked wrestler in the nation, according to her coach.

“She’s a phenomenal athlete. She’s a team captain and a great representation of this sport. She has a no quit attitude and she always finishes her matches,” Earley said. “She shows grit and I believe she is a good role model for younger kids.”

Blank said she loves her team and coaches, which she considers family.

“I love everyone. They make it fun for me,” Blank said. “Even if we have rough times, we make it work and we get through it. They help you get through competition.”

But most importantly, Blank said she wanted to thank her parents for their support from day one. She added that her mom is super supportive, and her dad often takes time out of his day to attend her tournaments. She also gave a shout out to her judo club, who she says has also been supportive during her wrestling journey.


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