Gibsonburg girls wrestling team making its presence felt

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

In three invitationals thus far, Gibsonburg girls wrestlers are making strides.
At the Clyde Invite, the Lady Bears finished 12th out of 30 teams and came in 16th out of 42 teams at the Findlay F.I.G.H.T. Tournament. At the Tinora Tournament, team scores were not tallied, but Gibsonburg had four girls finish in the top four of their respective weight classes.
Morgan Leonhardt, who wrestles at 115 pounds, has the best record on the team at 10-2. Her two losses have come to Miami East standout Kira Cole, who, according to Bears coach Greg Spoores, is ranked eighth in the nation. Leonhardt lost to Cole in the finals at the Findlay Invite and in the semifinals at the Clyde Invite. Jocelyn Schaeffer (130) is a returning state qualifier and has a 9-4 record. Lilly Zweifel (100) is 7-4. Brianna Montgomery (105) is 2-2 after wrestling in her first invite at Tinora.
At Tinora, Leonhardt took first, Zweifel was second, Schaeffer third and Montgomery fourth. Leonhardt was second at Findlay, Zweifel finished seventh and Cheyenne Reese (125) was eighth. The Clyde Invite saw Zweifel come in third and Leonhardt and Schaeffer both took fifth.
Spoores gave his take on how the team is doing.
“I feel really good about where the team is right now. The girls have gelled; they work their butts off in the weight room, and we are now up to nine girls total with eight of them competing,” said Spoores. “I think they feed each other, they set high expectations for themselves. The mental part of the sport is such a huge piece of it. We’re also very blessed because the weight classes kick right in a row for us.”
Schaeffer is the lone returning wrestler. The other wrestlers, five of whom are freshmen, came up from junior high, transferred in or just decided to go out for the team.
“We had just Jocelyn last year and two girls in the middle school. Jocelyn wrestled the boys schedule, and then we had a conversation about her going to the all-girls district tournament,” said Spoores. “We found out that there were some things we needed to think about for next year.”
The other wrestlers are Katiana Sausedo (120), Allison Schroeder (120) and Josey Mendoza (145).
Spoores talked about bringing such a young group along gradually.
“Just the intensity, picking up on the moves. For most of them, we’re trying to keep it very basic, exposing them to things along the way as well. We’re getting them to understand that it’s aggressive, fearless and intense,” he said. “We see the battles last longer and longer and longer. It’s impressive to see their determination.”
Spoores can’t single out any wrestler that’s particularly impressed him, saying he’s pleased with the efforts of his whole team.
“I could almost pick any wrestler (to be the unsung hero). The four better girls lead, not just physically, but mentally and vocally,” he said. “But outside of those top four, Cheyenne Reese is always encouraging — she lets us take her to the brink of breakdown, and she lets us push her. She wants to learn; she just wants more. Most of the girls are like that, but of the second-tier girls, she kind of stands out.”
Addie Teeple is not competing for the team but does practice.
“Because she was new to the sport, we talked to her and we felt like it was best if she learned the sport rather than us trying to catch her up on what she missed,” said Spoores. “She does everything the girls do, except when we travel, she becomes the mat maid. She would be at 140.”
Mendoza’s brother, Brad, was a three-time state semifinalist in Division III.
Spoores’ assistant coach is Traci Kayser.
“I was very fortunate to bring Coach Kayser to the program,” said Spoores. “The bond that the girls have created with her, I don’t want to say unbreakable, but it’s going to be a special bond moving forward. I made the right decision choosing her to help lead the program.”


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