High school roundup: Mensah sisters earn state tourney berths
The Houston area had three returning state champions at the Region III wrestling tournament Saturday at the Merrell Center — and two had to face each other.
Morton Ranch's Tamyra Mensah, the reigning state champ at 138, and Cypress Creek's Anna McAleavey, who won at 128 last year, met in the 138-pound regional final, with Mensah prevailing.
"I was really scared," Mensah said. "Usually I don't get scared before my matches but today I had to get serious. I had to get in the zone and make sure I was calm and focused, and wrestle smart."
Mensah (41-0) came away with her third consecutive regional championship after a match in which she was clearly focused. She was up 11-1 in the third period when she pinned McAleavey (23-1).
"It's impressive what Tamyra can do because Anna's no slouch, that's for sure," Morton Ranch coach Mark Balser said.
Neither are Balser's girls, who claimed their first regional championship. The Lady Mavericks scored 136 points and had six grapplers finish in the top four and qualify for state Feb. 25-26 in Austin.
"It's showing the progression of our program," Balser said. "We've had a really good year. We were second in state duals.
"So coming in today it was a goal all year to be regional champions and show where we're at, and I was happy that they were able to step up and come through."
Tarkyia Mensah, Tamyra's twin sister who missed nearly two years recovering from a devastating knee injury, set the tone for the Lady Mavs, battling her way into the 128-pound final.
"She never quits," Balser said. "She's a real coachable kid and she works real hard. She's a joy to have in the program.
"She's the heart and soul of the team."
But she came up just short of the title, falling to Conroe's Alex Powell 8-6.
"The fact that she's here, I'm really proud of her, but just because she's here I expected her to do a lot more," Tamyra said. "And so that match she wrestled really well but I know she can beat her."
The Katy girls crowned two champions: Caroline Kuhn (95) and Ashleigh Fritsche (102). But they placed fourth as a team with 75 points after winning the regional team championship last season.
Kuhn's regional title was her second straight. Last year, when she defeated Klein Collins' Sara Perez in the final, it was an upset. But this year against Cypress Ridge's Adrienne Do she was favored.
And she could feel the difference.
"This year it was more of me being nervous about losing my title," Kuhn said. "Once I worked through the nerves I was like, 'This is mine, this is my senior year and I deserve to win it because I've worked my butt off.'"
Now Kuhn's hoping to improve on last year's fourth-place finish at state.
"I feel like it's my year because I've been working really hard," Kuhn said. "I just want to improve."
More grappling champs
Katy ISD teams saw two other girls crowned champions at the regional wrestling tournament.
Seven Lakes' Alex Wascom defeated Klein Collins' Nicole James in the 165-pound final. Wascom and Tamyra Mensah were named the girls outstanding wrestlers of the regional tournament.
Katy Taylor's Nina Wyre won the 185-pound championship, beating Clear Creek's Hayley Mitchell in the final.
Katy ISD state qualifiers
The other boys state qualifiers, before wrestlebacks, were Katy's Christian Martinez (second at 103), Petey Martinez (second at 125) and Logan McMillan (fourth at 130), Seven Lakes' Ross Kappmeyer (third at 140) and Eric Newton (second at 171), Morton Ranch's Jacob Stock (third at 160), Cinco Ranch's Christian Brower (third at 180) and Cody Newnom (fourth at 215), and Mayde Creek's Kyle Smith (second at 189).
The other girls qualifying for state, before wrestlebacks, were Morton Ranch's Kristen Navarrette (third at 110), Cadey Widacki (third at 148), Ashley Miles (third at 165) and Bailey Flemming (fourth at 185), Katy's Sarai Gracia (third at 138) and Taylor's Monica Phillips (second at 215).
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