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Waldorf shoots for strong finish at nationals

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

OKLAHOMA CITY – Eight members of the Waldorf College women’s wrestling team are ready to put it all on the line in this weekend’s Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) National Championships.

Hope Cordoviz (101 pounds), Rose Heurtelou (109), Marinna Vela (123), Rachael Coleck (130), Bailey McLaughlin (136), Justice Losee (143), Cherydan James (143) and Harmony Maitland (170) are set to go to battle for the Warriors in the two-day tournament, which begins on Friday at Abe Lemons Arena.

“I’m looking for them go out and wrestle like they know how to,” Waldorf coach Tyreece Gilder said. “This is the time to do it. All the preparation that they’ve had, it’s just time to put it into play.”

The national tournament stage is the biggest, featuring the best grapplers from across the United States. A challenging regular season has pitted the Warriors against several of the same opponents, so the level of competition won’t be a significant difference.

“Everyone’s going to be there,” Gilder said. “We’ve seen a couple tournaments where it’s been about as big. They’ve seen this level of competition, so it shouldn’t be anything new. It’s just time to go out and wrestle.”

The top eight wrestlers in each weight class earn All-American honors and a spot on the podium at the national tournament. Many of the top finishers from the past few years have already crossed paths with Waldorf this season.

“All of them have at least faced multiple-time All-Americans,” Gilder said. “They’ve all wrestled high-caliber competition.”

Losee (6-9), a junior from St. Ansgar, returns to the national tournament for the second time. McLaughlin (5-25), a sophomore from Centennial, Colorado made her first appearance at nationals last season. The duo brings the most experience to the mats for the Warriors and looks to use it to their advantage in a familiar atmosphere.

“It’s always tough, but it’s nothing new,” Gilder said.

Coleck (18-17) is a redshirt freshman. She will be making her national tournament debut, along with Cordoviz (6-19), Heurtelou (10-16), Vela (0-4), James (7-12) and Maitland (4-15), who are all true freshmen. Despite it being their first go-arounds at nationals, the hurdles they’ve faced throughout the season has them ready to go to work.

“They’ve seen a high level of competition and we’ve been to big tournaments where pretty much everybody is there,” Gilder said. “It comes down to just fighting through every single position, not settling, going out and fighting for every inch you get and not conceding any positions or points.”

Waldorf’s wrestlers know the end of the season presents the biggest test. It’s a culmination of everything they’ve worked for throughout the year. Since the Warriors will see a lot of familiar faces when they hit the mats, they are following the same approach and viewing nationals as another grueling tournament.

“We’re hoping we have a better turnout,” Gilder said. “It’s something that we’ve been leading up to this far and it’s just time to go out and produce.”

Staying mentally sharp and refusing to give into adversity are important components to achieving success in any sport, but especially in wrestling.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Gilder said. “Wrestling is a tough sport. Sometimes your mind just wants to give in, but your body has it in itself. It’s just a matter of staying mentally focused, mentally tough and fighting.”

As the Warriors take aim at national titles and All-American performances this weekend, they understand it’ll require more than just going through the motions to reach those feats.

“My expectation for them is to go out there and give a high level of effort each second they’re on the mat,” Gilder said. “If they can do that, the results will take care of themselves.”