By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– The legacy of Alexys Zepeda continues to grow in the High School Wrestling-ranks.
The freshman is ranked fourth in the Oregon Wrestling Forum rankings in guy’s at 113 even though she has bounced up to wrestle 120 and 126 this season and has held her own with guys like Kade Mask of Scio and company. The same forum has the Gervais wrestler tops at 117 in girl’s rankings.
Saturday was no different.
It comes to no surprise that in a field that has a national champion in Sarah Conner at 135 from Central Linn and North Medford’s Kyleigh Lopez 110, that Zepeda too will be in the finals of the Women’s State Qualifier come finals time.
After sitting in the stands for much of the afternoon with a stern-look that would intimidate most, the quiet assassin comes down from the stands when it was almost her turn to wrestle to warm up.
She stands to the side of the stands by herself with that same stern-look as the lights dimmed as a overhanging light illuminates the mat below.
The Quiet Assassin has been here before, having taken home some serious hardware as a eighth-grader the year before through the mat club she still to this day works out at. But even the 15-year-old showed some nerves, having heard about Hillsboro’s Tyler Rabang and wrestling under the lights.
“I was really nervous because everyone was telling me that she was good and it got me all nervous but when I went out there, all of that nervousness went away,” said Zepeda on the nerves as she showed some excitement in explaining the nerves. “It was my first-time under the lights, it was a really cool experience.
“It’s nervous and awesome at the same time because all the eyes are on you and your in the middle. It’s nervous, excitement, all that mixed together,” she said with a smile and a laugh.
When she was on-deck, she walked over to the table with Cougars Head Coach Abel Valdez. Valdez sharing a few choice words to help her focus and keep her mindset focused at the task at hand.
And as she mentioned, as soon as she stepped on the mat, it seemed as if she was right at home as she controlled the match from the get-go, building a 6-2 lead and the momentum entering the second period.
That’s where she really just took over.
Back-to-back three-point near-falls were broken up by Rabang battling, trying to escape the tight grip of Zepeda who was looking for her second pin-fall of the tournament to go with her three technical falls to add a top-seed of a girls tournament to her ever-growing resume.
On the third try, the Quiet Assassin got that pin to take the top spot home to Gervais.
“Just a lot of practice because I practice with Abel at practice. It’s really a lot of conditioning, just hard work,” said Zepeda on the win.
“It’s just awesome just to watch her do what she does, she’s impressive,” adds Vasquez. “To qualify for the State Tournament on the girls is good…we got our eyes set on something higher, but we’ll see how that goes.
“I told her, ‘do what you do. Let’s not worry about what they’re going to do, just get after our offense. Worry about our mindset of attacking’ and she did exactly did that and I’m really impressed.”
That standard lies with what the rest of the Gervais Wrestling team is doing: Boy’s District.
Girls are allowed to partake in the guy’s District Title race, but if they qualify for the State Tournament however, that’ll become the tricky issue.
Tricky in that, if Zepeda does and is safe to say has a legitimate chance to do so, she’ll have to decide which State Tournament to compete in: Boys or Girls.
But, they’ll cross the road when it comes, as for right now however, it’s back to work.
“Just cleaning up some little things things, she’s a very technical wrestler so between now and Districts it’s just maintaining her weight, cleaning up her technique in practice and just getting after it,” said Valdez of his wrestler.
“Keeping that mindset you know, we talk a lot in practice of an attack mind-set and wanting to score a lot of points and just got to keep ingraining that in her during the next week, she’s going to be wrestling in the boys next weeks in districts and just after it and score a lot of points.