BREAKING THROUGH: Local female prep wrestlers heading to state finals

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By Rich Torres

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FRANKLIN — For a third straight year, a Hancock County school will be represented at the Indiana High School Girls Wrestling State Finals.

In each of the past three seasons, the county’s girls wrestling participation at the annual state finals has increased from two competitors in Greenfield-Central’s Chloe Pike and Mt. Vernon’s Sierra Pienkowski in 2019 to five overall and three schools participating this Friday night.

Greenfield-Central’s Kylie Smith-Foster and Livia Quigley are heading to the IHSGW State Finals at Hamilton Heights High School this week along with Mt. Vernon’s Pienkowski and New Palestine’s Sydney DeLois and Kayleigh Kirkwood.

Smith-Foster will enter Friday’s state finals as an IHSGW Regional South champion at 98 pounds, finishing the state qualifying-event a flawless 3-0 with three consecutive pins on Friday, Jan. 8 at Franklin Community High School.

The girls’ regional at Franklin served as one of the IHSGW state tournament series’ two semistates with the top-four finishers from each site advancing to Friday’s state finals in Hamilton County with wrestling set to begin at 4 p.m.

The IHSGW Regional North tournament took place at Maconaquah High School this past Friday without spectators.

At the conclusion of the one-night state finals event, the eight competitors in each of the 14 weight classes will be awarded state medals. Due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions, each wrestler is permitted only two parents as spectators at Hamilton Heights.

Smith-Foster, a freshman, is ranked ninth in the state, according to IndianaMat, and defeated sixth-ranked junior Adriana Sanchez of Purdue Polytechnic by fall in 1 minute, 40 seconds to win the 98-pound regional title.

The up-and-coming Cougar won her first regional match by fall in 1:10 over Gibson Southern’s Gabrielle Polen to reach the semifinals. In the final four, Smith-Foster knocked off Carmel’s Roni Ledezma, a fifth-ranked senior, by fall in 1:20 for the upset.

Quigley, who is ranked third in the state, was runner-up at 145, scoring a 12-0 major decision in the quarterfinals over New Albany’s ninth-ranked Brittany Jackson before pinning Lebanon’s Gabby Deakins in 28 seconds during the semifinals.

Quigley’s run ended in the championship round, falling to Cloverdale’s second-ranked Jessica Geiger by pin in 2:15. Quigley, a junior, is advancing to her second state finals after placing fifth at 138 last year.

Pienkowski is a three-time state qualifier, placing seventh at 138 last season and eighth at 145 in 2019.

This time around, she will compete at 138 where the fourth-ranked junior finished runner-up at Franklin.

Pienkowski opened the regional with a 2:28 fall over Northview’s Daelynn Torbert in the quarterfinals before pinning Seymour’s Celeste Huddleston in 1:06 during the semifinals. She lost by fall in 3:51 to Evansville Central’s third-ranked Kaylie Peterson during the finals.

New Palestine’s Kirkwood, who is ranked eighth in the state, placed fourth at Franklin in the 138-pound bracket, finishing 2-2 overall.

The sophomore started off with a pair of wins, including a 4-2 decision over Madison Consolidated’s Ally Zuckschwerdt in the first round, followed by a fall in 3:36 over Monrovia’s Josie Hause in the quarterfinals.

Kirkwood lost to Peterson by fall in 1:49 during the semifinals and to Lebanon’s ninth-ranked Emerson Wolfbrandt by fall in 1:50 during the third-place consolation match.

DeLois, a freshman, placed second at Franklin, posting a pair of falls at 113 to advance to state.

The Dragon went to work quickly in the quarterfinals, winning by fall in 29 seconds over Jeffersonville’s Natalia Carrillo before pinning Hamilton Heights’ fifth-ranked Semera Henson during the semifinals in 2:43.

DeLois lost to West Vigo’s top-ranked Torieonna Buchanan in the finals by fall in 5:03. Buchanan, a junior, is a two-time state champion at 106.