The power of the Eagles girls wrestling team comes from their resilience.
While the team’s participation numbers are down this year, the lack of depth hasn’t dulled their intensity, said Federal Way head coach Travis Mango.
“The girls have taken that chip on their shoulder like, ‘OK, we’re outnumbered a bit. Let’s go fight, let’s still go have fun and go scrap,” Mango said at the All-City wrestling meet Jan. 23.
Federal Way took home the All-City champion title last month with a 40-18 win over Thomas Jefferson and a 57-0 victory over Todd Beamer. Thomas Jefferson beat Decatur 47-42 on Jan. 23.
After a slow start to the season, Mango said something “started to click and come together,” with many of the athletes showing regular improvement match to match.
This year’s team is young, with only three seniors on the squad (Brittney Wehmeyer, Nevaeh Rocha and Jennifer Tongi) Mango said, in some ways, still trying to find their identity outside of the Federal Way big three:
State returner sophomore Kayla McKinley-Johnson (105), returning state champion junior London Houston (130) and newcomer senior Jennifer Tongi (145) are all ranked among the top three in state.
“She’s been electric for us,” said head coach Travis Mango, highlighting Tongi’s 28-3 overall and second in state ranking.
Other top Federal Way wrestlers to watch include Paulina Fabela Santos (110), Nevaeh Rocha (235), Kenya Cruz (170), Meliame Takai (190) Casey Scheschy (135) and Hailey Shamblin (155).
“They know how to be intense when necessary, but they also know how to keep it fun and keep it loose,” Mango noted, who calls himself a high intensity coach. “The girls have been able to work together and rally around one another in key situations.”
As a team, the Eagles sit at sixth in the state rankings as of Feb. 2.
Federal Way expects to be chasing White River, Toppenish and Hanford come postseason, but also is taking the competition one day, one match, at a time.
“Once you get to the Tacoma Dome, crazy things happen — magical things happen,” Mango said.
The girls and boys 2020 sub-regional NPSL wrestling tournament is Feb. 7-8 at Kent Meridian High School, 10020 SE 256th St. in Kent. The tournament begins at 4 p.m. Friday and at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
The advancing athletes will then compete at the regional tournament the following Saturday, Feb. 15 at Decatur High School in Federal Way.