State medals cap off successful season for Plum girls wrestlers

Saturday, March 23, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Plum girls wrestling team met a lot of the expectations coach Dave Miller had for the 2024 season.

No matter how high those expectations may have seemed.

“I expected two girls to at least make it to states and I was hoping for three to get there,” said Miller.

Sophomores Alaina Claassen and Saphia Davis made it to the PIAA championships, and both medaled in their weight classes.

Davis, whose overall record this year was 33-4, lost a 7-3 decision to Callie Hess of Benton in the 124-pound quarterfinals.

Despite that loss, Davis put together a string of wins in the consolation bracket and lost a 4-1 decision in a match for third, ending the tournament with a fourth-place finish.

“Saphia was two points away from qualifying for states last year at 118,” said Miller. “She beat the girl that kept her out of last year’s state tournament four times this year. So, to qualify this year was a little more special for her. It was nice to see her do well.”

As for Claassen , she won her 235-pound first-round match with a pin of Zoey Lake from Wallenpaupack, then lost in the quarterfinals to MacKenna Atkinson of Souderton.

In the consolation bracket, Claassen secured a pin in the first round, then a 10-8 decision in the second before losing a major decision in the consolation semifinals. She placed sixth.

“Alaina made states last year and placed third,” said Miller. “I expected her to place in the top six this season. With a couple of breaks here or there, she could have placed top three for sure.”

Claassen finished the year with a record of 23-5.

Both sophomore girls were joined by a trio of freshmen in qualifying for the inaugural girls WPIAL tournament at North Allegheny in February.

Davis became the school’s first girls champion with a win at 124 with a 5-0 decision over Mt. Lebanon sophomore Paige Jox.

Claassen secured a gold medal at 235 by pinning sophomore Zoey Murphy of Southmoreland.

Claassen’s freshman sister Addison qualified for states with sixth-place finish at 130.

“Addy’s doing well, seeing how it’s only her second year competing in wrestling,” said Miller. “She’s a natural 124 pounder, and because Saphia’s at that weight, she was wrestling heavier than she probably should be. It made it tough for her, but I expect her to do a lot better next year.”

Freshman Caroline Perez placed seventh at 190, while fellow freshman Amora Sorzano-Lee lost in the quarterfinals at 112.

“This was the first season for Caroline wrestling at any capacity,” Miller said. “She started with us around Christmas time, and I expected her to wrestle hard, but I didn’t expect her to make it all the way to the western regionals. She’s doing quite well.”

The end of season records for each of the freshman show promise in the coming years. Addison Claassen finished with a 21-13 record, Perez was 4-9 and Sorzano-Lee had an 8-15 mark.

At the PIAA Western Regionals on March 2 at Canon-McMillan, Davis placed first at 124 with a 5-4 decision over Kelly Enterline of Greenville and Alaina took home gold at 235 with a pin of Murphy.

Addison lost in the 130 quarterfinals and Perez fell in the quarters at 190.

The team finished fifth in team standings at western regionals.

Going into the postseason tournaments, Miller reminded the girls that they had been through similar events throughout the year.

“This year, we only had four dual meets and five tournaments,” said Miller. “The tournaments helped teach them to pull themselves together and get back out there, because at some of those tournaments you only get a half-hour break.”

Miller’s message to the girls at the tournaments was simple: “Winning it is nice, but qualifying for the next one is what counts,” he said. “You want to qualify before anything else. Once they qualified, there was a sense of relief and they went out and enjoy themselves.”

The Mustangs finished the regular season 3-4 (2-3 in league play) and the record is more a reflection of the small roster numbers that they and other schools are faced with.

“Some of our meets, all our girls won their matches, but we still lost the dual meet because we didn’t have enough wrestlers for all the weight classes,” said Miller. “Those were disappointing but fun. The girls had a blast because they were tasting success.”

Knowing how grueling the training and practices are, Miller said the highlights of the year were watching the girls get their first victories.

“With our two first-year wrestlers, Sorzano-Lee and Perez, I wasn’t sure they were going to get a win at all this year,” said Miller. “But they both kept working and my assistant coach and I were extremely happy and excited for both when they got those victories.”

With only one senior on the roster set to graduate, and with the success his sophomores and freshman brought, Miller likes what the future holds.

“We’ll be on the recruiting trail through the rest of this school year and the beginning of next to get more girls on the team, maybe get a full lineup,” Miller said. “I want to get back at it again next year and am looking forward to repeating what we did this season.”


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