Storm's Hollingsworth qualifies for girls state

SH-BCLUW’s Taya Hollingsworth has her arm raised after winning her third-place match in a super-regional meet in Decorah on Friday. The South Hardin freshman is the Tigers’ first girls state wrestling qualifier. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder
The Grundy Register

DECORAH – Inspired by her co-head coach cousin to give wrestling a try, South Hardin freshman Taya Hollingsworth made history on Friday as the school’s first-ever state girls wrestling qualifier.

Wrestling at 140 pounds as part of the South Hardin-BCLUW Storm, Hollingsworth pinned New Hampton/Turkey Valley’s Keira Myers to finish 3rd in the bracket and qualify for the first-ever sanctioned girls wrestling tournament in Iowa, to be held this Thursday and Friday at the Xtream Arena in Coralville.

Hollingsworth went 4-1 on the day, with her only loss coming to Osage’s Katelynn Huebsch in a 7-5 decision in the semifinals. Her other four matches ended in pinfalls. 

“My cradle was really hitting tonight,” Hollingsworth said. “And I was doing pretty good on defending against shots.”

The third-place match on Friday was crucial for her seeding - a loss would mean, at best, she would qualify fourth and have to face a regional champion in the first round; at worst, she would have to wrestleback for true fourth place to even get her foot in the door in Coralville.

“I knew that if I wanted to get higher at state that I needed to pin her and try to end it fast,” Hollingsworth said.

She scored a takedown and three back points in the first period and when Myers chose to start on top to begin the second period, Hollingsworth reversed out and rolled Myers onto her back for three more points and eventually the pinfall she needed.

She’s seeded 22nd out of 32 wrestlers in the 140-pound bracket and will wrestle Decorah’s McKenzie Tollefson in the first round that begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Co-head coach Jacob Groeneveld got Hollingsworth to give wrestling a try, but Hollingsworth also plays significant minutes for South Hardin girls basketball - a workload that she says gets crazy sometimes, but that she’s able to juggle. She feels like her shots and positioning has improved the most from the first time she stepped into the circle, and being around like-minded girls has helped, too.

“It caught me up on a lot of stuff and helped with my drive,” she noted.

Lewis Central’s Mahri Manz is the top seed at 140 pounds; Centerville’s Sarah Lewis is the two seed on Hollingsworth’s side of the bracket.

The freshman is keeping her goals modest going into a new experience at Coralville.

“Just try my best, and hope to finish in the top 20,” Hollingsworth said.

Tickets are available online now at or can be purchased at the Xtream Arena on the day of the event. A free live stream will be available at - wrestlers that at least reach the quarterfinals and those that win through to the 4th round of wrestlebacks on the consolation side qualify for Friday’s session beginning at 9 a.m.

Jaelynn Poage was the only other wrestler to place for the Storm on Friday, finishing sixth at 125 pounds. She lost her first match of the day but battled back with three wins in the consolation bracket before dropping her consolation semifinal and 5th-place matches by fall.

Leila Wedgwood went 2-2 at 120 pounds, and three Storm wrestlers went 1-2 on the day: Alaynah Salazar at 155 pounds, Kynnedy Gunderson at 170 and Kailan McEwen at 190.


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