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Warrior Women’s Wrestling set to start season

Wrestler Alaura Couch wrestles during the Waldorf University Open last year. Photo by Diana Stetson

By Diana Stetson

The only collegiate women’s wrestling program in the Iowa is set to hit the mats and make an impact.

Waldorf head coach Tyreece Gilder has a strong team mixed with experienced returners and talented newcomers who begin their season this weekend wrestling a dual matches against Midland in Nebraska on Friday, then in the Warriors’ tournament Saturday.

For some, like fourth-year wrestler and senior Tori Lyons, the start of a new season is always fun.

“I’m pretty excited,” she said of preparing for her senior season. “I’ve come a long way, this has been the most exciting adventure I’ve ever had.”

Coming from Santa Maria, California, Lyons has adjusted to life in the Midwest and at a small school, and advises her younger teammates to enjoy the ride in college.

“Waldorf may be small, but I’ve had a blast since I’ve been here,” she said. “Just have a positive mindset, even if you are far from home like I am, you’ve still got to push through and get things down.”

Lyons says her positive mindset is one big asset she brings to the mat, along with her outgoing personality, her spontaneity, and her adventurous nature.

She’s one of three seniors the Warriors will look to for leadership this year, along with Akina Yamada and Amanda Mercier, both of whom Gilder expects will be top performers.

Other top returners include sophomores Alaura Couch and Diana Leyva, all of whom the Warrior coach says can “crack into the top ranks and jump onto the podium this year.”

As for the incoming freshmen, Gilder says Diana Dzasezeva from Jelgava, Latvia, Rosalani Ikei from Honolulu, Hawaii, Ashbby Alvarado from Pharr, Texas, Savannah Vold from Rochester, MN, and Makyla Black – from Gilder’s own high school in Phoenix, Ariz.–all will make an impact on the mat.

“I’m pretty happy with the whole team,” Gilder said. “It’s just a matter of schooling them up, and getting them used to the skills and techniques at this level. It’s a different animal.”

These skills and techniques will be on display next weekend–Saturday, Oct. 20–as the Warrior wrestlers host their annual Youth Connection. The clinic offers girls ages 3 to 18 the chance to meet the Waldorf women’s wrestling team and learn about wrestling in general–not just at the collegiate level.

“It’s a program to get the younger kids to come out and look at wrestling, or if they’re already wrestlers to come see what we do and try to motivate them to continue,” Lyons said.

“It’s more of a connection, relationship building-type of event,” Gilder said. “It’s just designed to grow girls wrestling in Iowa and the Midwest.”