Turlock High sophomore Hailey Ward (101) bested last year’s finish at the California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships after she concluded the two-day tournament this past weekend with a fifth-place result, medaling in the process from the Visalia Convention Center.
“I placed higher than last year and I am so happy getting fifth and, on the podium,” said Ward. “I wanted to be No. 1, but I really wanted to make the podium because I didn’t last year. I improved more from last year, and all the work I put in showed at the tournament.”
She had two tough losses both by points. One of them in overtime. Those are always a bit tougher to swallow but she bounced back and did very well. I am very pleased with her performance,” said Turlock head coach Lucas Solarez.
Ward, who said she was nervous heading into her second straight State tournament, managed to come away with two straight victories before reaching the quarterfinal round.
From there she fell in a close decision to the State runner up in Lizette Rodriguez from James Logan.
“The State tournament is always tough no matter how much experience you have… anything can happen,” said Solarez. “One bad shot can make the difference in a match. I think this just makes her hungrier for the offseason and next years’ goal which are to be a State champion.”
“I was nervous, but I just went out and did it,” said Ward. “It was close, but I messed up a little bit, took it for granted and didn’t see it coming.”
Despite failing to finish in first place, Ward felt a sense of accomplishment, besting last year’s performance.
She closes out the year being crowned back-to-back Master’s Champion for the second straight year and is hoping to take the honors for a third straight year as a junior next season, although there is work left to do.
“She’ll take the week off before preparing for USA Wrestling Frosh/Soph State and then folkstyle national’s in Oklahoma this March,” Solarez added.
“I want to be a Masters champ again next year and place higher at State first and regionals as well. Now, I am going to be training to try and make the national team again, in Oklahoma. I have to thank coach Lucas, the Doi twins for being my training partners and my parents, of course, for all their support,” Ward added.