By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore– This past Saturday at Harrisburg High School was remarkable.
A week after compiling three Tech-Falls and two pins in the Girls State Qualifier at Thurston High School in her 117 pound weight division, Gervais’ Alexys Zepeda turned around and won the Guy’s District Title after defeating Jefferson’s Rene Flores 10-5 in the 113-pound District Title at Harrisburg Title.
Nerves were there of course, but hey it’s the District Finals there’s going to be nerves. Zepeda even admitted that the overhanging light that they have helps her get into the zone. But lessons, the freshman knew she picked up a few while she wrestled Flores and that’s trying to get some more strength between now and next Saturday’s State Wrestling meet.
“He was pretty tough, that was a hard match,” laughed Zepeda on Flores. “What I know I need to work on is muscle, getting muscle, I need to gain muscle because they’re way stronger.”
As some may know, if you qualify for both Girls and Guys State Wrestling Championships like Zepeda did, you must choose one. The goal was always the Guys State Wrestling Championships and they did the girls as collateral if something happened at the guys district said Cougars Head Coach Abel Valdez, but at the end of the day, the choice of what tournament was her’s.
But also too, that she needed the mentality that she’s going to walk out with the State Championship coming home to the City of Gervais.
“The fact that she is so talented, she has an awesome opportunity to be a four-time State Champion, you have to win it your freshman year,” said Valdez. “We know she’s a heavy favorite for the girls. The boys, she’s ranked in the Top 3 and I think she has an opportunitiy to win it in that division as well. It’s a tough decision for her. Obviously she has a little bit more difficult time with those top-boys, we had a really good District Final match, (Flores) is ranked-fourth behind her.
“So I really left it up to her and I said it was her decision, but when you make that decision, after she came up to me and said she wanted to choose the boys, I told her she needed to have the mentality that she’s going to win every match.”
And with the success she’s had on the guys side so far this season, along with her goal of placing at Guy’s State now right in front of her, the decision was not as hard as it seemed.
“I heard that next year Oregon is going to become a sanction state, so I wanted to wrestle as many tournaments against boys and one of my goals since I was in middle school was to place in boys State,”
The competition won’t be like the girls tournaments like the two she competed in this season, one of them being the Girls State Qualifier back a few days ago; but there’s a good chance that Zepeda can be a top-seed in the Guy’s 113 Division with the expectation that Cascade Christian’s Gabe Vidlak (21-0) to be the number-one seed in the weight class entering State.
The goals themselves haven’t changed, but it’s just keeping on top of it now that the excitement and nerves are slowly getting turned up to 11 as the clock is now ticking down to Portland. But she’ll remember what got her here as the freshman goes off to Pennsylvania later this week for a Team USA Wrestling Camp before coming back to Oregon Sunday for ‘Game Week’.
“It’s the same stuff, working hard, lifting more weights, pretty much the same stuff but I have to keep my mind on it. School-work and wrestling, just trying to balance it,” said Zepeda with a smile.
And her Head Coach expressed confidence in her and her ability for the Boys State Meet that when the time comes for her to wrestle the girls as part of the OSAA, she’ll have the confidence that she can succeed in the field.
Espically after wrestling the boys at 126 and 120 before reaching 113 along with wrestling them at her Mat Club she goes to several times a week.
“I think our goal and our plan the whole time was boys and I think being in that classification of wrestling boys all the time, it just gives her that confidence that when she goes up against girls, she knows physically that she’s wrestled kids who are stronger. Maybe a little bit quicker, ‘oh these girls are pretty fast’ and she’s fast, I have trouble wrestling her just because her speed.
“And I just think it gives her a whole another level of confidence for when she wrestle girls. She doesn’t feel some of the power that she feels when she’s wrestling these boys, these girls are strong and she’s really strong 113-pounder of her size too.”
The official brackets won’t be released until 4A and 5A all wrestle their District Meets this upcoming weekend for the State Meet on February 16 and 17 in Portland.