Triumph and Tenacity: Centralia Panthers’ Historic Performance at State Wrestling Tournament

The Centralia Panthers came into the tournament’s second day battling between 3rd and 4th place as a team. It was doubtful as the Panthers won less than half of their matches in the morning session (Semi-finals and blood rounds). However, they won enough key matches to have five medalists heading into the Friday afternoon/evening final session and had a narrow 1-point lead over Brookfield for 3rd place.  

However, the five wrestlers that survived the morning session, would finish strong individually (going 3-2 in the medal round matches) and help the team earn a team trophy in back-to-back seasons. The Panthers would score 108 points, 3 points ahead of Brookfield and 17 behind second-place Father Tolton. They ended up with a 3rd place finisher, 2 fourth-place finishes, and a 5th place finish.  

Jayci Shelton struggled initially in her semi-final match but it didn’t take long for her to punch her ticket into the finals, making her the first girl in Centralia HS history to accomplish such a feat. She has scored the maximum points up to this point (24).  

Her final match versus her opponent from Cameron ended up being the toughest of her tournament. This match was her only win not by a pin at the state tournament. It took Shelton a little bit longer to get a takedown as her opponent was able to counter with her moves but Shelton’s experience and tenacity would drive her to a 5-0 lead at the end of the first period. 

Her opponent chose top to start the second period and tried right away to break down Shelton but Jayci would not be denied and earned a reversal to increase her lead to 7-0. Shelton would attempt to turn her opponent several times with either a half nelson or a ¾ stack but to no avail as her opponent resisted heavily. With only 20 seconds left, Shelton’s opponent earned…

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Written by Jonathan Bowen

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